Democracy that Delivers Podcast #23: Julie Arostegui on Empowering Women in Post-Conflict Situations

Podcast guest Julie Arostegui.

Podcast guest Julie Arostegui.

Gender and security expert Julie Arostegui discusses the opportunities that arise in post-conflict situations to empower women and increase their role in democratic processes. Arostegui talks about the important role that law plays in creating these opportunities and explains the impact of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which mandates women’s participation in peace processes. The discussion also covers the role economic development plays in creating stability post-conflict and how economic empowerment of women often leads to their greater political participation. Arostegui also talks about her involvement in programs to empower women politically in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and North Africa.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show.

Arostegui developed a toolkit on Using Law to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Systems.

Read Arostegui’s articles Gender, conflict, and peace-building: how conflict can catalyse positive change for women and  Gender, Migration and Security: Migration policies must empower women and men.

Visit her LinkedIn page to access other articles she has written and follow her on Twitter at @JulieLArostegui. Her website is jlaconsultingllc.com.

Privatization in Ukraine: Not So Fast

lugansk-factory

In Ukraine, thousands of companies are still owned and operated by the government — a legacy of Soviet central planning that bleeds money from the already strained state budget. With the country in economic crisis, there have been renewed calls for Ukraine to speed up its privatization process and sell these firms to private owners who can restructure them and run them more efficiently.

Ukraine’s former Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Aivara Abromavicius, recently made a well-reasoned argument for faster privatization on the Atlantic Council’s blog. Similarly, the IMF has also urged Ukraine to speed up the pace of privatization.

However, focusing on the pace rather than the quality of privatization will likely result in a botched privatization process — which will undermine the little bit of faith Ukrainians have left in the free market and state institutions, potentially leading to the growth of populist movements and destabilizing the current government.

Ukrainian state-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain a drag on the national budget. They serve as incubators for corruption and gray market deals and in some cases serve as piggy banks for Ukrainian politicians. While I agree with Abromavicius that “simplicity, clarity, and transparency,” must be maintained in order to successfully privatize Ukrainian state owned enterprises, his concept of creating a simplified privatization procedure (without advisers) through an online auction of over 1,000 smaller SOEs will likely lead to public anger over a process that would surely enrich insiders.

Without independent advisors overseeing the due diligence process and hiring independent auditors, bidders will not have transparent access to information about the companies listed. This would, in effect, be like buying from an unrated seller on eBay with only a vague description of what is for sale – something that would not inspire confidence in potential buyers.

A lack of independent advisors–and the transparency and investor assurances they would bring to an auction—can lead to lower realized prices for the Ukrainian government, attracting only those bidders with inside knowledge of the true status of the enterprises for sale.

Read More…

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #22: Babak Yektafar on the Economic Situation in Iran and What Drives Regime Policies

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques (right) and Julie Johnson with guest Babak Yektafar (left).

CIPE’s Iran expert Babak Yektafar discusses the current economic situation in Iran and how the regime controls information and policies to stay in power. Yektafar talks about how the economy has been damaged through mismanagement, Iran’s entrepreneurial youth culture and their hopes for the future, and what the government needs to do to make it easier for Iranians to start and grow businesses. He also discusses the government’s control over the flow of information within the country and explains how an “Expediency Council” works to ensure the regime stays in power.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show.

Associations Must Innovate to Survive Digital Disruption

OBP Profile pic (hi-res)By Octavio Peralta

Digital disruption is turning the world on its head, and presenting opportunities as well as threats, to associations, chambers, societies, non-profits, and other membership organizations. As relationships develop online and social media opens up new ways to be part of many communities, many associations are faced with the prospect of having a less tightly-bound group or worse, losing their membership. On the other hand, greater connectivity leads to new models of membership and network collaborations.

The Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) www.pcaae.org will tackle this burning issue and other related topics designed to share association professionals’ and experts’ insights in creating innovative ways to deal with shifts in the digital age.

With the theme “Race to Innovation: Winning in the Age of Disruption,” the PCAAE Associations Summit 4 (AS4) is expected to draw about 200 association professionals here and abroad. The two-day summit is slated for November 23 to 24, 2016 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila, and will feature local and international speakers who will share best practices in association and membership organization governance, leadership and management.

Read More…

What Good is Economics as a Science, if Not Based on Field Studies?

Reem_Abdel_Halim

By Dr. Reem Abdel Haliem

This post originally appeared in Arabic on the CIPE Arabia blog.

I currently work with CIPE partner the Federation of Economic Development Associations (FEDA) on a study to bring Egypt’s informal sector into the formal one. Since there are number of studies on this topic, FEDA chose to focus its study on producing a guide – more of a roadmap – that outlines practical steps to facilitating the informal sector’s formalization.

A series of focus groups based on a robust methodology was a must to achieve sound findings and to draw evidence-based conclusions. Through those focus groups, we formed a logical and comprehensive understanding of the problems that the formal sector faces, so to grasp the disincentives that make the idea of formalizing unattractive to the informal sector. Formal sector operators face these problems almost on a daily basis and with a variety of local and national government authorities. This understanding could not be reached through a typical literature review.

Through my experience in the focus groups and with drafting this roadmap, it became clear to me that with the right field research tools, grasping the on-the-ground reality makes policy recommendations more accurate and relevant to addressing the stakeholders’ needs and, as such, makes these recommendations of higher value to the state and the general public.

Read More…

Safety First: Secure Communications and Storage Tools for Reducing Risks

Secure messaging apps like Telegram have become an increasingly important part of NGO and civil society work in many countries.

Secure messaging apps like Telegram have become an increasingly important part of NGO and civil society work in many countries.

What makes CIPE’s programs stand out is the caliber of our partners. From developing the first ever local business agendas in Ukraine, sparking economic policy debates for the first time in Nepal, to leading the private sector cooperate with local governments and security forces to combat insecurity in Tijuana, Mexico, CIPE partners around the world are doing tremendous work to create a more sustainable democratic and economic communities.

During this process, however, many of them face risks while operating in challenging – and sometimes dangerous – environments. It may be because they exist in countries where civil society is facing a challenge; or it might because powerful companies are closely tied with the ruling political party. Whatever the reason, CIPE understands that all our partners take risks by challenging the status quo. To this end, CIPE has supported our partners to maneuver in difficult environments by equipping them with mobile or online tools that could lower their risks.

NOTE: As you explore the tools, please keep these points in your mind.

  • Despite the sophistication of the tools mentioned below, organizations should not rely solely on digital security for their safety, even if they are being careful. Many authoritarian governments are digitally savvy, so in some environments it is impossible to be 100% secure. Organizations should make sure they are following all the laws and regulations (even if they are burdensome), and that they are not communicating in ways that would put individuals at risk, even if they were compromised.
  • Carefully review and understand the privacy policies of any tools before using them.
  • Adopting new technology is like a behavior change – it takes time and effort, so be patient if your organization decides to adopt and use one of the tools for your organization.

The following are some suggested tools and strategies that CIPE has shared with our community. They are common threats and risks associated with using certain ICTs, as well as possible products and strategies to consider using to improve your organization’s security measures.

Read More…

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #21: After Serving Time for Violating the FCPA, Richard Bistrong Counsels Others on How to Avoid the Same Fate

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson (left) and Ken Jaques (center) with guest Richard Bistrong.

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson (left) and Ken Jaques (center) with guest Richard Bistrong.

Former FCPA violator and current anti-bribery consultant Richard Bistrong (@richardbistrong) was convicted of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, cooperated with the FBI, and served time in prison. Today he works with companies to help them deal with anti-bribery and compliance issues around the world. He discusses what led to his conviction, and what he learned about corruption risks and the incentive structures that make bribery more likely. He also shares the advice he would give his younger self before he embarked on that first international sales trip overseas that started it all.

Learn more about his work at www.RichardBistrong.com.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show.