I Can Live Coalition, Lithuania
NGO coalition "I Can Live" advocates for a rational state policy in the field of human rights of the vulnerable groups in Lithuania, among them dependency patients, sex workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, and formerly incarcerated persons. In order to reduce stigma and discrimination of the marginalized groups, the coalition educates policy makers and general public on the problems and rights of the vulnerable groups through public discussions, conferences and media outreach. The coalition also engages in policy initiatives by analysing existing legislation, organizing surveys and research, and developing and promoting new policy initiatives.
With the goal of creating a secure and healthy society, the coalition is active in advocating improvement in vulnerable groups’ access to social, health, and legal services. Its members are active in human rights advocacy, by proposing to public institutions mechanisms for the protection and implementation of the rights of vulnerable groups and by provision of legal counselling to substance abusers. Coalition focuses on working with national and local politicians and decision-makers, develops cooperation and partnership with them, and facilitates exchange of experiences with other organizations in Lithuania and abroad in order to develop new policy and improve legal system in country. The coalition is also involved in capacity building of the member-organizations.
Media can perpetuate prejudices and stigma but they can also be one of the most effective instruments in fighting them. That is why the coalition engaged in educating the media how to portray vulnerable groups. It developed and published the vocabulary “Positively about Vulnerable Groups” and distributed it to the Lithuanian media.
Together with four Municipalities, the coalition developed and undertook a survey on accessibility of the social and health services to drug users. Based on the survey findings and relevant international experiences, the coalition issued policy recommendations to municipal and national policy makers. Recommendations were introduced to the Drug Control Department under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and will be discussed with the Lithuanian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.
In 2005, together with the Vilnius Substance Abuse Center, the Coalition implemented project “Sex workers advocacy project in Lithuania.” Together with the National Health Board a survey „Evaluation of social tolerance among health care, education and social sectors specialists” was developed and undertaken. The idea was to assess the tolerance of specialists in regard to vulnerable groups and to develop recommendations for fighting stigma and improving understanding and tolerance.
Among the donors of the Coalition are the Open Society Institute, Open Society Fund-Lithuania, The Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Embassy of the United States in Lithuania. Coalition also collects membership fees.