This article was translated by Fernanda Paula Razini, a volunteer participant in the Translation Community at Instituto Elos.
It is Juliana Campos who explains that participation in councils is as challenging as it is fundamental to guarantee that public policies really talk to people’s needs. She is one of the people who occupies a space in the councils, from the Elos Institute on.
Councils are spaces that discuss, supervise, and suggest improvements in an area of public service, for example, in Health. Being part of it means that you will get together from time to time with several people to discuss if everything is working as it should in your city. And if not, how you can change it. People representing the government and civil society participate in the councils. In other words, governors, and you and me, people who have a direct interest in the subject, who use that service.
“Councils are spaces for tensioning, in the sense of bringing about difficult conversations of the model or functioning of a policy,” Juliana says. “Because the idea is that you meet there from the person who uses the service to a representative of the Public Ministry, for example. Everybody together.” In practice, she explains, this helps society to ask for changes or suggest new ideas. In some cases, even to report a problem.
Ideally, she argues, we should be able to guarantee conditions for the population to be in these places. However, this is not what happens. Juliana says that, many times, the meetings take place at times when the leaders can’t go. As the Elos Institute works in partnership with many territories, participating in councils is one of the ways to ensure that the needs of these places and people are considered, taken into account.
“We have some clues of the challenges and needs that exist because of our proximity, but also because of actions like the research we did. So, I see that it is also up to us to take these points to these places,” she argues.
Our work is explained like this: we are a social education organization that strengthens the capacity of people to transform their reality. In other words, we build the environment and the conditions for people to be protagonists of their own history. Stimulating the occupation of councils is one of the many ways to do this.
“Our work gains more strength and becomes more efficient when we manage to link it to larger contexts, such as public policies,” argues Juliana. “After going to a community and supporting the construction of stilt houses, for example, it is important that we open a channel where these residents can sit down with the public authorities to think about the next steps”. The name Elos is not by chance, as we can see.
Besides the Municipal Council of Social Assistance, in which Juliana participates, the Elos Institute takes part in other articulations inside and outside public decision-making spaces.