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WomenStrong Renews Global Learning Partnerships

WomenStrong Renews Global Learning Partnerships

18 urban, community-based organizations from 15 countries funded to test, refine, and amplify promising solutions for women and girls

When WomenStrong launched its new Learning Lab model in 2019, we began a journey with six organizations in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Malawi, Peru, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, working to empower and educate girls in their communities.

Whether in the Guatemalan highlands or the towns around Cusco, Peru, all were eager to exchange lessons learned with peer organizations that faced similar challenges – from convincing fathers to delay their daughters’ marriage and keep them in school, to supporting girls in life skills, job skills, and sports programs.

In early 2020, these organizations were joined by more – in Cambodia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United States, and Zambia – this time, working with girls and women, boys and men, to advance women’s health and prevent violence against women and girls.

WomenStrong partner Visionaria has been piloting a gender training for secondary school teachers in Cusco, Peru.

At WomenStrong, we anticipated a rich exchange of ideas and lessons learned among our Learning Lab partners. But we could not anticipate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The illness, the loss of life, and the additional risks to safety and wellbeing affected our partners, their communities, and all of us at WomenStrong. And like many crises before it, the resulting school closures, stalled economies, home isolation, and increased violence exacerbated gender inequalities.

COVID and the ensuing needs and responses of our partners utterly upended our Learning Lab workplan. Our partners became first responders, organizing coalitions to provide health and violence hotline information, food, and menstrual hygiene supplies. Our Learning Lab responded to our partners’ needs by addressing topics such as how to communicate remotely and how best to support staff and partners during a crisis.

Roots of Health in the Philippines is one of our many partners who has shifted programs to reach women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic also accelerated progress within WomenStrong toward more flexible and longer-term funding, to better support our partners’ needs.

Now a year into the pandemic, WomenStrong is renewing our partnerships and pledge to listen to women and girls and help strengthen community-based organizations that are best positioned to respond to their needs.

WomenStrong International is announcing today that we have renewed our partnerships with 18 exceptional community-based organizations that have been our grantee partners in the Learning Lab. These organizations will receive two additional years of funding to implement projects and come together virtually (and in-person, when it is safe to do so) to develop, test, and sharpen their solutions.

All partners in the WomenStrong Learning Lab also receive tailored technical assistance and capacity-strengthening and will produce learning products to document and share what they are learning.

Partners explored common themes in their work at WomenStrong’s retreat, held just before the pandemic shut down in-person programs. They now connect with each other online through webinars, small group discussions, peer-led technical assistance, and an online portal where they can exchange resources.

“All of us at WomenStrong are thrilled at the opportunity to support these dynamic women-led organizations, which are so brilliantly serving the women and girls in their communities,” said Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, WomenStrong’s Executive Director.

“We’re excited for them to continue to learn from each other, and it’s our distinct honor at WomenStrong, to partner with and learn from them all.”

The 18 grantee partners in WomenStrong’s global Learning Lab include:

Girls’ Education and Empowerment

  • GENET: Girls Empowerment Network Malawi
  • Girl Up Initiative Uganda
  • The Girls’ Legacy (Zimbabwe)
  • Sahar (Afghanistan)
  • Visionaria (Peru)
  • Women’s Justice Initiative (Guatemala)

Violence Against Women and Girls

  • The Action Foundation (Kenya)
  • Black Women’s Blueprint (USA)
  • Centro Mujeres (Mexico)
  • Gender and Development Cambodia
  • Men Stopping Violence (USA)
  • Rwanda Women’s Network

Women’s Health

  • Copper Rose Zambia
  • The Firecracker Foundation (USA)
  • Mali Health
  • Mujeres Aliadas (Mexico)
  • Projet Jeune Leader (Madagascar)
  • Roots of Health (The Philippines)

You can learn more about WomenStrong’s partners and their work on our Partner page.

Next year WomenStrong will add a fourth area of focus within our Learning Lab, to include women-led organizations working to advance economic security and opportunity.

We are delighted to support the ongoing work of and exchange among our resilient and knowledgeable partners, and we look forward to sharing new Learning Lab developments over the months to come.

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