“In today’s digital world, freedom of expression must still be respected and citizens provided with equitable access to technology and media platforms. A free flow of information to the public must be guaranteed,” says WACC General Philip Lee. Photo: Muhammandtaha Ibrahim/Unsplash
“Communication is a basic human right, and unfettered access to information and knowledge is essential to democracy, empowerment, responsible citizenship and mutual accountability,” says WACC General Secretary Philip Lee.
“In today’s digital world, freedom of expression must still be respected and citizens provided with equitable access to technology and media platforms. A free flow of information to the public must be guaranteed,” he added.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Democracy is Participation, and WACC is drawing attention to vulnerable and marginalized communities that are denied access to information and communication, to communities and groups that are misrepresented or underrepresented in the news, and to journalists who face censorship or are killed in the line of duty.
Lee notes that the communication rights of people today are affected by the global trend of “shrinking public spaces” as well as disinformation and misinformation on digital platforms.
Essential to democracy and upholding human rights, genuine communication embodies respect for the dignity, integrity, equality and freedom of all human beings and their communities.
Several projects supported by WACC have focused on strengthening people’s participation in the public square. One, which ended in January 2019, helped enhance Palestinian women’s civic engagement through communication and media training.
Implemented by the Community Media Center (CMC), the project strengthened women’s capacities to express their views and exercise their right to freedom of expression. “Guaranteeing the rights of women and giving them opportunities to reach their full potential is critical not only for attaining gender equality, but also for meeting a wide range of development goals,” says the CMC.
It notes that Young Palestinian women often have fewer opportunities for economic and civic participation than men, less access to higher education, and less political participation.
“Participation is a worthy theme for International Day of Democracy and the key to good citizenship and good governance,” says WACC’s General Secretary.