The role of civil society today
Civil society fulfils a very important role in modern society, to help bridge the gaps in services provided by Government and the commercial sector, as well as to call for change.
Civil society has the power to influence the actions of those who have been elected to Parliament as well as of people in business. The nature of civil society – what it is and what it does – is evolving due to technological developments and other significant changes in society.
The definition of civil society is changing as civil society is starting to be recognised as covering more than one sector that is dominated by NGOs. Civil society today comprises a wide range of organised groups and others that are not as organised. The activities of civil society are varied, among them, making sure that Government and institutions take responsibility for their actions; promoting transparency; raising awareness on social issues; ensuring education, health and security services; taking professional advice to develop strategies and policies; giving a voice to those who are marginalised and encouraging active involvement of citizens.
Civil society groups have started to use technology and social media platforms to raise awareness about their causes. They are also using technology to operate more efficiently.
People sometimes ask who can participate in civil society. For those who live in a democracy, the answer is we can all participate. But there is a big gulf between talk and action. The hard work done by civil society groups does not always see the light of day because of governmental interference and shortcomings.
However, civil society cannot give up. Working to raise concern and influence or criticise Government policy through constructive dialogue is never in vain. Thanks to the power of technology, civil society can now more than ever inform Government on what it thinks is its shortcomings and the initiatives that it deems to be worthwhile.
Maybe, instead of asking what civil society encompasses, the time has come for more individuals to get involved.