The ACTION Support Centre planned, facilitated and documented the NPA’s two day partners meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference accorded partners an opportunity to reflect on their past four-year programme activities, their organizational strategies and how they have impacted on inequality. It also explored collaborative approaches for their partner organizations whilst sharing challenges and opportunities for alliance building. Approximately 18 representatives of NPA partners from various movements, CBOs and NPOs were present for the plenaries and deliberations. Of the 18 representatives, women made up 55 percent of attendance. This reflected the commitment to women’s rights and gender equality, which plays a key role in the Norwegian People’s Aid strategy, where gender is an important factor regarding inequality and power in society.
The Regional Director, Trygve Augestad at Norwegian People’s Aid, highlighted that it is within the Institute’s partnership policy that it is regarded important to meet with partners annually to discuss issues of interest. He affirmed their organization’s mandate, which is to promote democratization and international solidarity. The NPA organizes and mobilizes local groups, social movements, CBOs and trade unions with focus on accountability, transparency and representation to fight for social and political rights. It emphasizes giving a voice to repressed groups. It also has a current focus on refugee and migrant issues. For example, NPA is working with the political opposition in Syria, by running refugee reception centers in Norway and also working with Lebanon and Jordan on the migration crisis.
The discussions centered on work around democracy, representation and understanding inequality with a special focus on movement building. One of the implementing partners pointed out the need for funding of farm workers as they face exploitation and injustice, being cheap labor in South Africa. Another critical issue raised was on the impacts of multinational companies on communities, in particular the mining sector. Concerns were shared that they leave communities in abject poverty, abuse workers, pay them low wages, and they have too much influence over governments. The issue was to challenge the role of multi-national companies in perpetuating inequality, illicit financial flows and tax evasions.
It is through social movement building that the many layers of inequality can be gradually stripped away. NPA representatives highlighted that the most important factor is how power and resources are controlled and distributed. It upholds the values of just resource distribution and ensuring that people have the opportunity to participate in, and influence decision-making. The Partners meeting reiterated NPA’S strategy on strengthening people’s opportunities to organize and mobilize.