The coalition, led by BFW, engaging 10 grantee-partners from 7 different cities, supported by the Club Z media, consists of 3 types of CSOs: women/gender/lgbt+, youth and media organizations.  This coalition will address the challenges related to the shrinking safe space for the civil society. We will develop a strategic communications campaign that will raise awareness on the organized attack against the Istanbul convention and the human rights CSOs, which will be implemented on a national level via online and offline activities. The campaign has 3 aims: 1) tackle the negative image of the civil sector; 2) address the hate speech and the threats CSO representatives are subjected to; 3) expose the anti-European attackers of the convention, of the human rights defenders and of the whole civil sector.       Two factors brought this coalition together: 1)The attack against the Istanbul Convention from January 2018 that has grown into an ongoing attack against the civil sector. 3 important lessons were learned until now: 1.A coalition consisting of CSOs and other actors from around the country, not only from the capital, is crucial for an effective response to the challenges in front of the civil sector. 2.The coalition should actively involve CSOs from various fields not only those working in the human rights sphere. 3.Attracting media as partner is key to addressing the challenges that the CSOs face. 2)BFW organized a meeting for 20 grantee-partners from around the country in March 2018 to assess their needs and the analysis showed, confirming lesson 1, that small CSOs from remote areas remain isolated from many of the initiatives happening in Sofia (e.g. – the response of the civil sector towards the backlash against the Istanbul convention).
      These are the factors that made BFW initiate this coalition and invite 3 types of partners, mostly situated outside Sofia. All partners will be involved in all activities and these are the specific contributions. The coalition will use the grant to achieve these 3 goals: 1) Increase its own capacity to face the challenges in front of the civil society sector; 2) Develop a strategic plan on how to enlarge the coalition during the second phase of the grant; 3) Develop and start implementing on a local and national level a strategic communications campaign addressing the shrinking space for the CSOs.

February 22, 2019