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Countdown to Our First WomenStrong Learning Lab Retreat

Countdown to Our First WomenStrong Learning Lab Retreat

How can community champions know what works and what doesn’t, as they strive to educate some of the world’s 130 million out-of-school girls?

What are the most effective strategies, activities, and curricula for engaging girls in community programs? How can non-profit program officers persuade parents to keep girls in school? And what will enable boys to grow into men who support girls’ and women’s rights and equality? 

These are some of the questions bringing together WomenStrong International’s Girls’ Education and Empowerment Lab members for a weeklong retreat in Tarrytown, New York, from November 18-22.

“There are so many factors that go into what’s happening in a girl’s life and where she ends up, what makes her succeed. We’re really excited to learn from other organizations about how they are implementing their programs,” says Kate Flatley, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Justice Initiative in Guatemala, a WomenStrong Lab member.

WomenStrong’s newest member organizations – working in Afghanistan, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Peru, as well as in Guatemala – are all recipients of one-year grants to develop, test, sharpen, and amplify their solutions to some of the challenges facing the girls and boys in their own communities.

Member projects include a range of approaches to improve girls’ educational outcomes, including after-school girls’ clubs; gender sensitivity training for teachers, men, and boys; training young women in non-traditional trades, such as construction; and other approaches within urban communities. Their programs are all grounded in an understanding of local needs and are implemented by leaders who are longstanding champions for girls within their communities.

Our WomenStrong retreat, the first of many Learning Lab convenings, allows these members to share their many lessons learned with one another, to plan future collaborations, and to sharpen their skills in areas including monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, and communications.

“After seven years of doing this work, we have so many lessons learned, what works and what shouldn’t be repeated. We look forward to sharing our experience and hearing from others,” say Monica Nyiraguhabwa, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Girl Up Initiative Uganda, which works with girls in the slums of Kampala.

Kate Flatley of Women’s Justice Initiative notes that although she’s participated in other learning opportunities, the WomenStrong Learning Lab is unique in that it brings together other organizations that are also community-based, with modest resources and limited capacity to implement program evaluation.

“It is great to really talk to other organizations that are in the same situation, in terms of size and the barriers and challenges they face as they evaluate their programs,” she says.

Other participants in the Girls’ Education and Empowerment Learning Lab include the organizations GENET: Girls Empowerment Network, in Blantyre, Malawi; The Girls’ Legacy, in Harare, Zimbabwe; Sahar, in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan; and Visionaria Network, in Cusco, Peru.

“We so much look forward to welcoming these passionate, dedicated practitioners, who work across so many different geographies and contexts and who are all so eager to learn from one another, to try out new ideas, and to strive tirelessly to improve their work,” says Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, WomenStrong International’s Founder and Executive Director.

We invite you to share your words of welcome, encouragement, or questions for these leaders, as they come together to share their strategies for helping girls stay in school, helping teachers treat girls equally, and helping dads get with the program.  

Please send us your messages in an email, at [email protected]

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