What a year.
And as tough as it has been for all of us, it’s been many times more so for the women and girls with whom our WomenStrong partners work. Whether trying to stay healthy, feed their families, access sexual and reproductive health care, safely deliver a baby, or report a sexual assault, accomplishing anything, small or large, has become a challenge.
But this moment, like most tough times, shall pass. And we at WomenStrong enter the new year renewed, building on all we’ve learned during this difficult year and confident that our model — of finding, funding, strengthening, and convening strong, women-led organizations across the globe to share their wisdom in meeting their communities’ challenges — can help countless women, girls, and families, begin to recover from the shocks and setbacks of 2020 and rebuild their lives.
Our 19 WomenStrong Learning Lab partners focus on one of three distinct areas of learning: women’s health, girls’ education, or preventing violence against women and girls. In our first full year of operation, our Learning Lab has confirmed our belief that women-driven organizations working in vulnerable communities on the same sets of issues have much to share with and learn from each other and are eager to do so.
Carried out in seeming defiance of the stresses, strains, and the vast distances between us, we stand in awe of some of the close, highly successful collaborations that have taken place this last year:
- Together, partners in Malawi and Peru produced a fascinating chronicle of the process of creating and publishing gender-sensitive curricula for educators;
- American partners in Brooklyn and Atlanta led a public online forum to share their fresh takes on effective frameworks for ending violence against girls and women;
- Partners in Guatemala and Uganda shared with Learning Lab peers their strategies for reaching their girls and families with many forms of much-needed support during the pandemic.
We have taken pride, too, in the powerful online presentations at international meetings by partners from Phnom Penh to Madagascar to Nairobi to Kampala to New York.
In 2021, we look forward to enabling all our partners to share with each other and deepen their interactions through such collaborations and via peer mentoring. As always, we will continue to circulate useful resources, opportunities, and technical knowledge and to support them in preparing materials for presentation or publication. And in pursuit of our vision and goals, we will continue to elevate their voices and amplify their solutions, not only within our Learning Lab, but across a community of practitioners who can adapt and apply those tested solutions on behalf of vulnerable women and girls everywhere.
Once a vaccine becomes widely available in all our countries, we will be able to travel again, to learn from and share with each other in person, and to further strengthen our already powerful bonds. Until then, we are committed to deepening our connections, albeit long-distance, and to help further empower our profoundly knowledgeable partners, who have dedicated their lives to empowering local girls and women in communities worldwide.