Consultancy: Words Matter: Facilitating & Drafting CIVICUS Rights-based Editorial Guide

Closing date


At CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, we know that words matter. We are looking for a word guru with a deep understanding of diversity, inclusion, and human rights to collaborate with the Secretariat to produce rights-based editorial guidelines, comprising: a relevant and practical writing guide, a terminology database, and a system for ensuring these are continually updated. This will be used by staff and consultants across the organisation to ensure our words consistently reflect our values - in our 3 working languages of English/ Spanish/ French - as well as shared with the Alliance as a resource. The below Terms of Reference provides further information about the proposal and application.

Interested candidates or teams are welcome to submit their proposal in writing to Suhani Bhushan by 22 September 2020.


CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Established in 1993, since 2002 we have been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. The Alliance currently comprises over 10,000 members in more than 190 countries. Our definition of civil society is broad and covers non-governmental organisations, activists, civil society coalitions and networks, protest and social movements, voluntary bodies, campaigning organisations, charities, faith-based groups, trade unions and philanthropic foundations. Our membership is diverse, spanning a wide range of issues, sizes and organisation types, while staff is based across the globe in over 20 countries. This diversity is one of the Alliance’s most significant strengths and we are continually searching for practical ways to implement diverse and inclusive principles within civil society.

Consultancy Background

At the CIVICUS Secretariat, we’ve made substantial efforts to try to get language right. This has meant being thoughtful and intentional when writing publications, op-eds, newsletters and social media. It’s also meant being mindful of keeping up to date with ever evolving good practices around inclusive language, including how to ensure this is consistent across our three main languages of English, Spanish and French. However, with the many teams and initiatives at CIVICUS, the most up to date language decisions are not captured nor used consistently. There has also been difficulty to translate specific terms to Spanish and French as direct translations do not always suffice and can lose the meaning of the piece.

CIVICUS is looking for a consultant or team of consultants to create a process that will gather existing informal and formal language rules across the organisation, create mechanisms to further engage in this process and to begin a terminology base in English French and Spanish for key terms.

Scope and Purpose

The consultants will be tasked with:

  1. creating a writing guide with specific notes on how to approach writing in English, French and Spanish based on CIVICUS style and needs.
  2. setting up a database of terms;
  3. proposing a protocol for updating the guides and database.

The consultants will work closely with the following CIVICUS staff: Editor in chief, Communications Lead, Multilingual Officer and the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator.

CIVICUS will provide background information on the above to help provide initial direction.

The purpose of this consultancy is to:

  • Be intentional with the language we use
  • Ensure consistency of language across the organisation
  • Capture in house knowledge to create institutional knowledge
  • Ensure consistency across CIVICUS languages
  • Ensure the language we promote and that our writing style is inclusive as we are aware that language is a tool that can be used to exclude or invalidate intersectional identities
  • Capture rationale behind terminology usage
  • Demonstrate what inclusive language looks like across English, French and Spanish

Indicative Activities

Drawing on co-design methodologies and approaches that ensure inclusion of the target stakeholders in the design of the writing guides and terminology database, consultants will undertake the following indicative activities:

  • Review existing CIVICUS materials to try to understand our terminology choices and to critique some of our recent outputs
  • Conduct a survey and focus group discussions of representatives across the organization about terminology needs and usage
  • Complete a desk review of external resources to determine strong and inclusive language, especially how it is used by the people it is describing
  • Create a terminology database structure
  • Define the terminology workflow (editing rights, query format for non-translators)
  • Prepare a document that describes what has been done and serves as a reference guide on terminology work for the organization
  • Review the existing glossary and include terminology in the database (in the three current languages) if it fits with the preliminary research
  • Identify key CIVICUS terminology and input in the database (from existing multilingual material, i.e. web, public and internal documents)
  • Create a process that will allow the ever-evolving language needs to be updated in the database and writing guides

Timelines and Deliverables

Interview CIVICUS staff on terminology uses and internal review 20 October 2020 Complete a desk study on D&I and civic space terminology 31 October 2020 Present a suggested process and database 15 November 2020 Finalize writing guide and initial database 30 November 2020

Experience and Skills

  • Language capabilities in English, French and Spanish
  • Demonstrable experience working on diversity and inclusion concepts
  • Familiar with civic space and the relevant terminology
  • Demonstrable experience with co-design methodologies and approaches
  • Experience in international development with a focus on civil society
  • Familiarity and experience working with a diversity of types of organisations in different regions and contexts
  • Ability to meet deadlines provided

How to apply

Interested candidates are welcome to submit their proposal in writing to Suhani Bhushan by 22 September 2020. Proposals must include the following:

  • Proposal describing your personal and professional approach to this assignment and how you hope to accomplish the objectives (3 page maximum)
  • Full CV outlining relevant expertise in relation to the requirements of this assignment with examples of previous relevant capacity development products or annexes (2-3 page maximum)
  • A financial proposal including daily rates and estimated days for completion of this project.
  • “CIVICUS Terminology Consultant Application” must be included in the subject line of the email. If applying as a team, please identify the specific roles and responsibilities of each member.

The deadline for applications is 22 September 2020. Please contact Suhani Bhushan at if you have any questions. We can only provide clarifications to the terms of reference. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. References may be requested for shortlisted candidates.