Over 350 participants celebrated Wednesday, 17th of April, the 12 award winners of the 10th edition of the Public Participation Award Gala. This year’s message- “Together we make the power” marked the need of local civic initiatives, especially those with little visibility in the public space, to be supported. At the same time, the winners of the 10 editions of the Gala are the image of concrete changes in the community, gained through public participation.

This year, on the stage of the Gala, we had citizens that made the local administration to fix or approve various public decisions for the good of the community but also groups and organisations that fixed laws in order to give back rights to communities in vulnerable situations. Among the winners of this year’s gala we also had local public administration representatives, who were appreciated by the jury of the gala for involving citizens in the decision making process.

10 years ago, public participation stories that we awarded at the Gala were rather exceptions, and the trust in the power of citizens was at its beginning. Meanwhile, civic initiatives and advocacy campaigns multiplied and civic power in Romania became more and more visible and diverse.

We live in a social and political context in which the power relationship between citizens and public administration is profoundly disproportional. Now, maybe more than ever we need to show that the civic efforts we all do will bring about change on the long term. Even though it became more difficult to see the results of these 10 years of activism, they exist and they have clear effects for our lives: a better law for health, education or social protection, a paved road, clean water sources- they are very relevant for the communities.” Oana Preda, Executive Director of CeRe: Resource Center for Public Participation

Prize-winners of the Public Participation Awards Gala, 2019:

The Association Women get Involved, for the Civic Group Scele – Citizens in Action, Small Town, Big Citizens! Award

Citizens have acted constantly to empower local government officials for more transparency in decision-making. Their actions have not been left unanswered, the mayoralty organized the first public debate on the local budget project and started to pay more attention to the problems posed by the community.

National School Student Council for the campaign Education, National Security!, Reality Exam Award.

At the end of 2017, the Ministry of Education debated three framework plans for high school education, and the changes it proposed were more formal, not substantive. The ministry withdrew the proposals for the framework plans after the National School Student Council succeeded in mobilizing colleagues across the country to sign a petition, which drew up 140,000 signatures. 4,000 students mobilized and took the handwritten signatures to the Ministry of Education.

Romania Without Orphans Alliance (ARFO), for the Romania Without Orphans campaign, the Placement with care Award

Sixty thousand abandoned children are in different forms of protection, but many of them live in improper conditions. Only 17% of social services meet minimum standards to provide protection and development opportunities to abandoned children. After 2 years of intense public campaign, Romania without Orphans Alliance urged the Ministry of Labor to adopt Minimum Quality Standards for services for children in the social protection system.

Merci Charity Boutique Association for the Equal Access to Dental Services campaign for children from villages and children with cancer, Health Travel Order Award

Almost half of Romania’s population does not have access to dental services. After Merci Charity Boutique Association established the first mobile dental unit for rural children, they were stopped by not being able to accredit the mobile cabinet due to legislative shortcomings. After two years of talks with decision-makers and civil servants and a lot of public pressure, the Ministry of Health approved the order for the establishment, organization and operation of cabinets and mobile medical units.

Cluj-Napoca City Hall, for Participatory Budget Cluj-Napoca 2018, Person with person, we make the budget Award

 In most cities in Romania, the local budget is made in offices, depending on what the mayors, councilors and officials think. Citizens rarely get to express their opinion on how public resources should be spent. Cluj-Napoca City Hall has allocated more than 2 million Euros from the local budget for projects proposed by citizens. At the end of the 5 months of consultations, online and offline, citizens of Cluj registered 164 projects and over 19,000 people voted electronically for the 15 preferred projects.

Cluj-Napoca City Hall, for CIIC – Center for Innovation and Civic Imagination from Cluj-Napoca, On the line with Citizens Award

Public debates organized by the City Hall are far from being a habit of public institutions. Cluj-Napoca City Hall has set up the Center for Innovation and Civic Imagination (CIIC), which provides a framework for debate and consultation with the community where the City Hall invites citizens, artists, entrepreneurs and the academic community to find the best and creative solutions for the city. A community of over 5,000 citizens has been built around CIIC.

Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation for the Tuberculosis Law, Positive Opinion on Healing Award

Romania ranks first in the EU in the number of TB cases and relapses of the disease. Patients have complex needs: social and material support helps the treatment to take effect. Hence the need for a law to provide these types of support: the Tuberculosis Law. Romanian Angel Appeal and its partners have conducted a broad campaign to convince decision makers, and after 4 years of sustained advocacy efforts, the Law on Tuberculosis Control Measures enters into force in 2018.

The LGBT MozaiQ Association for the „Love not vote!” Campaign, Boycott hate Award

The Coalition for the Family wanted the redefinition of the family in the Constitution as being based on marriage between a man and a woman. Social tension grew, and the hatred turned against those who might have wanted a „non-traditional” family. Along with their allies, MozaiQ conducted an advocacy campaign to prevent this referendum from happening. Information and awareness actions followed to convince people to stay home on the day of the referendum. The efforts of MozaiQ and all those who promoted the boycott had results: for lack of quorum, the referendum was not validated.

Râmnicu Sarat City Hall, for the project # SUSRâmnicul – Râmnicu Sărat – model of sustainable development, Special Youth Prize

The Râmnicu Sarat City Hall involved over 900 young people and organized 14 consultations with them in order to elaborate the Youth Strategy. The views of the participants in the consultations organized by the mayoralty were heard, and at the end of January, in 2018, the Youth Strategy was unanimously voted by the Local Councilors of the City.

Rădăuţi Civic Association, for Saving the „Al. Sahia „Lake in Rădăuţi and giving it back to the community, the Power did not shrunk Award

In the ’90s, the Al Sahia Lake in Rădăuţi became private. However, business plans have failed and the lake has been abandoned, and soon it has entered in decay. A handful of citizens of Rădăuţi started a campaign to restore the lake and hands of the community and, after initiating petitions and requests for public information, they learned that the lake had been concessioned until 2062. After constant civic efforts, the Rădăuţi Civic Association determined the local council to end the concession contract. Thus, the park was released back to the community.

Diana Oncioiu, Dela0, Special Award for Journalism A pen named power

Diana Oncioiu was awarded for the journalistic material published on Dela0.ro: „There is nothing left for them”, „The laziness of people who receive social assistance” and „The figures say another story: the Romania of lazy people does not exist”. Diana’s articles talk about the social inequity faced by vulnerable categories, especially those affected by poverty.

Favorit Initiative Group, Tei Lake Initiative Group and Prelungirea Ghencea Initiative Group, CeRe Special Prize, A Decade Award

  • Favorit Initiative Group was formed in 2010. Citizens decided to fight so that the former Favorit Cinema becomes a space for cultural and social activities in the neighborhood. 9 years later they are about to see their dream come true.
  • Tei Lake Initiative Group has been watching for the good of the area since 2010. For a few years they have fought to save a piece of the park. They did it! Now they are vigilant and ready to mobilize if there is a problem that disturbs the community.
  • Prelungirea Ghencea Initiative Group was formed in 2013. Fighting for the benefit of the district, they learned about technical and economic indicators, public auctions, attributions of CNAIR. In the meantime, they have become an association and work for a united and strong community.

More details about the prize-winners of the Public Participation Awards Gala, X-th edition, can be found in the event catalog.

Details of the Public Participation Awards Gala: FB page