The role of civil society organisations in addressing inequalities in developing countries is explored. This panel will investigate their role in ensuring provision of basic services, how they push governments for legislation to promote equality, how they can measure and monitor inequalities in countries and also how the role of CSOs in addressing inequality can be theorised.
Structural inequalities resulting from various forms of social stratification remain a key development problem. Attempts by the State to address such structural inequalities are often inadequate. Resultantly, as development actors, civil society organisations (CSOs) have become the main service providers in countries where the State is unable to fulfil its traditional role. They have been long recognized as providers of relief and promoters of human rights, and in recent times, critical contributors to economic growth and civic and social infrastructure essential for a minimum quality of life. Despite their growing significance, the role of CSOs in addressing inequalities in the developing world remain only partially understood. It is believed that successful civil society actions can help reduce societal inequality in at least three ways. First, they can ensure provision of basic services and protect and promote human rights. Second, they can push national governments for legislations that seeks to promote equality. Third, they can monitor the inequality situation in a country, consequences and effects of inequality and use this information to inform ongoing interventions. In this panel we invite papers that interrogate the role of CSOs in addressing inequalities in developing countries. We are particularly interested in submissions that seek to build theories on CSOs role in addressing inequalities as well as those that extend previous theories (e.g. public goods theory, Contract Failure theory, government and market failure theories). Also of interest would be papers that explore how social movements and other civil society organisations have contested inequalities and challenged state policies. Papers should seek understanding of the causes of various forms of structural inequalities in differing country and regional contexts, and focus on the role of civil society organisations in struggles to reduce and address inequalities. We are hoping to receive submissions from both the professional and academic community that critically utilises theories to explain and provide practical ways that CSOs can be use as tool to address inequality in developing countries.