Panel discussion report 41: Democracy and CSO’s

Overview of the point discussion

As a part of assessment plan, we, students, were supposed to present a panel discussion on one of the topics we covered during the classes of Introduction to civil society or one of the topics which is related to the topic of civil society organizations.  I faced no trouble in finding the students who will to be in a group with me. We have decided to have a panel discussion on the topic of “Democracy and CSO’s”. Main points discussed were:

1. Importance of democracy

2. Advantages of democracy

3. Challenges under democratic government for civil society organizations

4. Other forms of governance in comparison with democracy in matters of civil society organizations

Firstly, moderator opened the discussion with introduction about the topic. As she stressed, although many people believe that democracy creates proper platform for functioning of civil society organizations, there are problem faced by civil society organizations in democratic countries.  Then she asked questions from each panellist. Questions which were answered by us are listed below in its respective order.

Questions:

1.            Muhsinbek:

What are the implications of civil society mobilization for democracy?

How civil society organizations respond to the challenges in democratic countries?

2.            Maimuna:

What are the roles of democracy in empowering women?

What are the challenges that we face in empowering woman?

3.            Suneeda:

What are the contributions of civil society (United Nations) in democratic countries and non-democratic countries? Compare!

What are the differences between democratic countries and non-democratic countries in term of civil society?

4.            Huriya:

As someone who lives in non-democratic country (Arab Saudi), what do you say about this topic?

What are the problems faced by civil society organizations in your place?

Process

  1. Planning

As I mentioned it was easy for me to find my group mates because I teamed up with the same members during one of the previous class activities. We met several times in the student centre of AiU to discuss about the presentation. But initially we were only four in the group, because when Mr. John assigned us to team up I found only four members including me. With no disappointment we started thinking of a suitable topic for our panel discussion. As we had to give the outline of our presentation in the class we had to make a quick decision. Among the suggested topics we were lenient to these two topics:

  1. Democracy and civil society organizations

  2. Types of governance and civil society organizations.

In order to avoid inconvenience later, we prepared a vague and broad outline for the topic of “Democracy and civil society organizations”.

  1.  (point of agreement & disagreement in the group)/resolutions

All of the group members were active and expressive in determining the topic and points of discussion. It made it time consuming to agree on the same topic and start working. Three dominant ideas which were the reason of our confusion were “Types of governance and CSO’s”, “Women empowerment and CSO’s” and lastly “Democracy and CSO’s”.

We came to agreement that we would talk about democracy, but those who are willing to talk about women empowerment and other forms of governance we free to bring those topics as examples of CSOs’ contributions in democratic countries. This would give the chance for those panellists who desire to talk about other topics that are mentioned above.

Implementation

  1. Describe satisfaction, strengths of the group

I personally think the presentation was satisfactory. Let me list the strength I found during presentation and while preparing it in our group:

Most of our group mates were fluent in language; due to this they could deliver the message to the audience clearly.

Three of our panellists (including me) are very comfortable with talking in public. It made our discussion look real and encouraged the other two members.

Most of the panellists prepared good and did not rely on their notes, it allowed them to keep strong eye contact while presenting.

I believe that continuous discussion in the process of preparation made our presentation rich in terms of context.

Vibrant question and answer session indicates that we could get the attention of the audience and interest them in our topic.

  1. Describe dissatisfaction, weaknesses of the group

Despite the strengths I have already pointed out, our panel discussion was very far from being perfect. Let me list down the weaknesses I have identified during the presentation and while preparing for it.

There were cases of deviation from the main topic. Our purpose was to illustrate how civil society under democratic form of government can work wonders. But some of our members focused too much on the failure of CSO’s.

Punctuality was ignored, and being late became a disturbing characteristic of our group meetings.

We were initially four members in the group. Fifth member joined our group a day before presentation. It of course, affected our confidence level and there were a lot of confusion about her role in the panel discussion.

Learning/Reflection of Panel discussion

  1. Informative speech & handling the question

I only benefitted while searching for extra information about the topic and also while listening to the speech of my group mates. Indeed, it was helpful in terms of gaining knowledge about the link between democracy and CSO’s partly because our group member were all from different countries and they spoke as representatives from different countries.

I enjoyed talking about democracy, because I have studied a lot on the topic of democracy. Since I am always relaxed while talking in front of the class, the presentation did not create much worrying in my, if it did not increase my confidence further. I was well prepared to answer questions from the audience, but even thought there were a lot of questions they did not refer to me.

Conclusion

In short, I enjoyed participating in the panel discussion. It increased my knowledge about the importance and vital role of CSO’s, which I think is the goal of the course. The process of preparation was full of challenges and I hope we could successfully overcome those problems.

References

Korkut, L. (2010, April 6). Strong civil society means strong democracy. Todays Zaman. Retrieved 14 June, 2010, from http://www.todayszaman.com/news-206551-8-levent-korkut-strong-civil-society-means-strong-democracy.html

Scholte, J.A. (2001) Civil Society and Democracy in Global Governance (Working Paper No. 65/01). Retrieved from http://www.google.com.my/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=civil%20society%20and%20democracy%20in%20global%20governance%20jan%20aart&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwrap.warwick.ac.uk%2F2060%2F1%2FWRAP_Scholte_wp6501.pdf&ei=dA3NUYv2M4WErAedpoDwCA&usg=AFQjCNHjSM1JFa1LUo1n3ytMcfl_Zx3KwQ&bvm=bv.48572450,d.bmk

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