Key Concepts


The overall goal for accessibility measures is to ensure that persons with disabilities, regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief or age, enjoy their human rights, have equal opportunities, have equal access to participate in society and economy, are able to decide where, how and with whom they live, can move freely regardless of their support needs, no longer experience discrimination. “Accessibility to the built and virtual environments, to information and communication technologies (ICT), goods and services, including transport and infrastructure, is an enabler of rights and a prerequisite for the full participation of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others”. (1)

For Grow Civic actions, considering and integrating measures to ensure accessibility of persons with different types of disabilities are important. Measures to make logistic and organisational arrangements in a way to take accessibility aspects into consideration are strongly recommended in Grow Civic supported actions. It is also important to improve the accessibility of the action to integrate relevant design standards and principles into consideration while producing the print and online outputs of the action. (2)

  1. Union of Equality Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, European Commission, 2021.
  2. Following resources may be useful in that respect:
Accessibility mainstreaming

There is currently no universally agreed definition of accessibility mainstreaming. Over time, some experts working on the rights of persons with disabilities reworked the definition of gender mainstreaming and drafted a similar definition for disability mainstreaming. Hence, the definition of accessibility mainstreaming is: “A strategy for making disabled people’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that disabled people benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve disability equality.” (1)

  1. Civic Space Accessibility Mainstreaming Guideline

Action, in the context of the Grow Civic Program, is perceived as a “mini project”. It is a planned undertaking having at least the following elements: an objective/goal, a set of activities and their outputs, a timeframe, and a budget plan. 


An activist, as defined by Grow Civic, is someone who takes action for positive change on different political, social or environmental issues.

Although every human being is a potential activist, the way it is defined by Grow Civic, an activist takes action in a more constant manner, using different methods, and continue their actions until a positive impact is achieved. They do this voluntarily, with an awareness of their right to be included in decisions affecting their lives and advocate to make this a reality. They question policies and implementation of decision makers based on principles of equality, diversity and social justice, and acts to transform those that do not work in this direction.

“Effective activists possess persistence, creativity, commitment, and often courage, but above all, a belief in human beings and human rights. They believe that a world where human beings have their human rights respected is a possibility, and they want to make it happen.”  (1)

  1. Council of Europe, Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People, Chapter 3

Any project/action consists of a set of activities. In most cases, one action should cover more than one activity. Activities are implemented to achieve the aims of the project/action. Activities include meetings, training, conferences, study-visits, workshops, desk-top research, surveys, documentary/video production, interview, screening, media campaign, advocacy visits, gap-analysis, studies and research, etc. Please note that these activity types are just examples and, other types of activities might be implemented in different projects.


Beneficiaries are usually persons, groups or organisations/institutions in a given project/action that directly or indirectly benefit from the results of the activities to be implemented with target groups (see the explanation for target groups below). In some cases, the target groups and the beneficiaries may be the same, but their quantities may differ.

Civil Society Organization (CSO)

Civil society refers to all forms of social action carried out by individuals or groups who are neither connected to nor managed by state authorities. A civil society organisation (CSO) is an organisational structure whose members serve the general interest through a democratic process, and which plays the role of mediator between public authorities and citizens. (1)

In the context of Grow Civic, a CSO is an organized, independent, not-for-profit body based on the voluntary grouping of persons with a common interest, activity or purpose. An association does not have to have a legal personality but does need some institutional form or structure. (2) The forms they may take can include but are not limited to associations, foundations, platforms, non-profit collectives/cooperatives, not-for-profit companies, clubs, etc.

  1. European Union, EUR-Lex
  2. Joint Guidelines on Freedom of Association, Venice Commission and OSCE
Cross-cutting issues

Cross cutting issues are issues of importance for any project/action that should be integrated at all stages of project/action design and implementation. In the context of the Grow Civic Programme, the cross-cutting issues are accepted as added-value qualities of the action and include the following:

  • Mutual learning, co-learning and experience sharing
  • Involvement of / support to disadvantaged groups and/or people from rural areas
  • Measures to ensure gender equality
  • Measures to ensure environmental protection/sustainability
  • Measures to ensure youth inclusion
  • Measures to ensure accessibility (ensuring special measures to ensure access of people with different disabilities).

Grow Civic accepts the definition of the European Commission as laid down in the 100 Words for Equality document: The range of values, attitudes, cultural perspectives, beliefs, ethnic background, sexual orientation, skills, knowledge and life experiences of the individuals making up any given group of people. (1)

  1. One hundred words for equality, European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion 

The rights-based approach requires the identification of rights-holders (see below for definition) and duty-bearers. The duty-bearers are state or non-state actors, that have the obligation to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil human rights of rights-holders. (1)

Please see the definition of the rights-based approach below for more details.

  1. Human Rights-Based Approach, European Network of National Human Rights Institutions
European Economic Area (EEA)

Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are EEA countries that are not in the EU.

EU IPA countries

The European Union Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) covers candidate or potential candidate countries. These countries include: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, the Republic of North Macedonia, and Turkey.

EU member states

The European Union Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.


Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and learned through socialization. They are context/ time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context. Other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age. (1)

  1. Gender Mainstreaming, Concepts and Definitions, The Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women
Gender equality

Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development. (1)

Gender Equality Mainstreaming Guideline published by Civic Space, provides information about definitions, concepts, and measures to support organizational efforts to integrate gender equality at policy and operational levels. (2)

  1. Gender Mainstreaming, Concepts and Definitions, The Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women
  2. Civic Space Gender Mainstreaming Guideline
Grassroot organization

Grassroots are generally defined as the common, ordinary people, as contrasted with the leadership, elite, politically and/or socially powerful groups or organizations. They mostly dwell in relatively agricultural and rural areas, and they are organized to act in the area(s) they inhabit. (1)

They are self-organized groups of individuals pursuing common interests through volunteer-based, non-profit organizations, that usually have a low degree of formality but a broader purpose than issue-based self-help groups, community-based organizations, or neighbourhood associations. (2) They work around localized issues and problems; they are generally the first responders to crises occurring in their locality; they are the first and most critical agents to decide and act on which solutions fit their situation. 

  1. UN Economic and Social Commission
  2. Well-being Reconsidered: Empowering Grassroots Organizations

(Social) Inclusion is defined as the process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights. (1)

In the context of Grow Civic, it means to consider the disadvantaged groups/peoples (e.g. children, elderly, ethnic and/or religious minorities, ‘foreigners’, LGBTI+s, people with disabilities, migrants, women) who might be generally excluded from different aspects of societal and/or political life, and be differently affected from the planned action are considered at the design stage of the action and relevant measures are thought of to ensure their participation/inclusion in one or more activities.

  1. UN Report on the World Social Summit Situation 2016, Leaving no one behind, Chapter 1, Identifying Social Inclusion and Exclusion
  1. This acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex and describes a diverse group of persons whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity diverge from the more conventional gender roles of and relationships between men and women. LGBTI people are also sometimes referred to as “sexual, gender and bodily minorities”. (1)

    Definitions for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex are: (2)

    Lesbian: a woman who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted to women

    Gay: refers to a person who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted to people of the same gender. It traditionally refers to men, but other people who are attracted to the same gender or multiple genders may also define themselves as gay.

    Bisexual: when a person is emotionally and/or sexually attracted to persons of more than one gender.

    Trans: Is an inclusive umbrella term referring to people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differ from the sex/gender they were assigned at birth. It may include but is not limited to people who identify as transsexual, transgender, transvestite/cross-dressing, androgyne, polygender, genderqueer, agender, gender variant, gender non-conforming, or with any other gender identity and/or expression which does not meet the societal and cultural expectations placed on gender identity.

    Intersex: intersex individuals are born with sex characteristics (sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, hormonal structure and/or levels and/or chromosomal patterns) that do not fit the typical definition of male or female. The term “intersex” is an umbrella term for the spectrum of variations of sex characteristics that naturally occur within the human species. The term intersex acknowledges the fact that physically, sex is a spectrum and that people with variations of sex characteristics other than male or female exist.

    1. European Union definition
    2. ILGA Europe Glossary

The concept of mainstreaming was first coined at the Third World Conference on Women in 1985 in Nairobi in reference to gender equality. It is now commonly used in reference to other issues such as governance, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, climate change, democracy and human rights, accessibility, youth inclusion, HIV/AIDs, in addition to gender equality. Mainstreaming an issue is generally understood as a strategy to make that theme an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects/actions. It also implies that relevant analyses and studies are conducted as the basis for integrating that issue(s) into the design of policies and/or projects/actions. The process of mainstreaming involves innovation, flexibility, learning and acceptance of new norms. It suggests deep changes in the established procedures and cultures of organisations so that the issue becomes integrated into its values, mission and management.
In the context of the Grow Civic Programme, the following cross-cutting issues are sought to be mainstreamed into actions: accessibility, environmental sustainability, gender equality, a rights-based approach, and youth inclusion. 

  1. Mainstreaming Cross-cutting Issues, OECD
Mutual learning, co-learning

Mutual learning or co-learning can be shortly defined as learning together, with all participants involved in the activity/action equally. It involves working together to find answers to common/shared concerns and learning from each other as equals, rather than the traditional mode of learning which involves a one-way transfer of information/knowledge between a static ‘teacher’ and others. 

Public benefit CSOs

Having a not-for-profit characteristic does not automatically make a CSO public benefit. Public benefit CSOs are those that are founded with the principal mission of engaging and working for the public benefit. They may be working on different thematic fields, such as environment, education, human rights, gender equality, poverty reduction, health, etc. CSOs working and operating principally to promote or protect the rights and interests of socially disadvantaged person groups are also accepted as public good CSOs.

Some other type(s) of CSOs are founded with the principal mission of protecting the interests of its members, founders, specific vocational groups, or persons/groups associated with them. Hence, the mandate of such CSOs is not primarily to promote and work for the general good of the public but rather to work for the benefit of their members. Some examples of such CSOs are labour unions, trade unions, trade and industry chambers, bar associations, doctors’ unions, etc.

Rights-based approach

The rights-based approach derives from the human rights-based approach that includes the principles and standards in international human rights law. The main difference between human rights-based approach and rights-based approach is that the latter does not merely focus on the obligations and rights identified under international human rights law but also other areas such as labour rights identified under international labour law, intellectual property rights, sexual health rights or international, transnational crimes that covers human trafficking or migrant smuggling crimes. Although RBA includes rights identified under the human rights law, it is important to highlight that it is not limited to this particular framework and has the potential to go beyond that. (1)

The rights-based approach is different from charity-based or need-based approaches. The three approaches focus on different issues and work for different outcomes. For instance, in terms of access to the right to education, the charity-based approach would work in building schools or buying textbooks for students. In contrast, the needs-based approach would focus on providing teacher training or direct training to students. However, RBA would work on organizing the parents or students to claim their right to education and advocate the authorities to improve the education system and services. (2)

RBA identifies the rights-holders and duty-bearers for their work. Every human being is a rightsholder,  and there is a corresponding duty-bearer for each right. The rights-holders claim their rights and hold the duty-bearers accountable for their rights. Typically, the states are the legal duty-bearers for rights, and they have the responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the rights-holders. Apart from that, it is expected that each rights-holder respect the rights of others and every person, as well as an entity such as private companies, CSOs, international organizations etc. have the moral duty to respect and protect rights. Duty bearers can be different in each action, but generally include the local bodies such as municipalities, universities, the business sector, media institutions, professional and/or labour unions, other CSOs, etc. (2)

  1. “A Rights-based Approach, Encompassing All Human Rights for EU Development Cooperation”, European Commission
  2. Civic Space Rights-Based Approach Mainstreaming Guideline
Rights-based approach mainstreaming

There is no single agreed definition of RBA mainstreaming. Overall, it can be defined as incorporating and implementing RBA in all levels of policy making, programming and planning in CSOs and also across public and private sectors such as municipalities, ministries, law enforcement bodies, large corporations, small-scale businesses and trade associations.

The RBA mainstreaming:

  • systematically addresses the duty-bearers’ responsibilities and calls them into action.
  • empowers rights-holders, increases their capacity to claim their rights and aims to make each rights-holder the agents of change.
  • encourages the rights-holders to become active citizens and advocate for their rights. The civic engagement with the duty-bearers for the development and better implementation of rights is one of the areas that RBA mainstreaming focuses on. Active citizenship leads to advancing the culture of democracy. (1)


  1. Civic Space Rights-Based Approach Mainstreaming Guideline
Target groups

Target groups are persons, segments of the community/population, groups or organisations/institutions that a project or action aims to reach out in order to address their rights and needs. They constitute the main groups that are expected to gain from the results of that project or action.

Within the context of Grow Civic, target groups are persons, groups or organisations/institutions who fulfil the following 2 criteria:

  • will be taking part in the activities implemented as a part of the Grow Civic supported action and,
  • will somehow be benefiting from the action and/or its results.