Partnership Update: Six Countries Convene to Co-Create Culturally-Adaptable Strategic Planning and Capacity Building Curriculum

September 29, 2008

WLP Partnership Group Picture From August 30th to September 4th, WLP’s partners from Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, and Palestine gathered in Potomac, Maryland, for a Strategic Planning and Capacity Building Institute. This six-day program provided opportunities for a rich dialogue addressing partners’ expectations and experiences in implementing WLP’s participatory leadership methodology through trainings, advocacy, and organizational development. During the Institute, participants co-created a draft curriculum for organizational strategic planning and capacity building, developed a timetable for carrying out this strategic planning process with individual partner organizations, and undertook an intensive review of WLP's Leading to Choices curriculum and trainings after eight years of its implementation.

WLP partners continue to experience numerous successes in their programs; and with these successes comes a need for further organizational introspection and developing plans for responsible growth. More importantly, partners feel the need to demystify and take ownership over the strategic planning process, ensuring that it would remain consistent with the core values that define our work. To that end, at the last annual Partnership meeting in April, partners agreed to begin working together to co-create a culturally adaptable draft curriculum and pilot program for long-term strategic planning and capacity building.

WLP Sep 08 Institute Working Group The September 2008 Institute marked the initial stage of this innovative program which will allow WLP partners, and eventually other NGOs in the global south, to approach organizational development in a manner that responds to local needs. Institute participants reviewed a variety of planning and institutional capacity building tools that can be self-administered, and designed a peer-implemented pilot program, selecting training materials and drafting a model agenda, to be implemented initially in six partner organizations. Women leaders from the field will work with other organizations in their regions, identifying internal constituencies and planning needs, and making site visits where they can take on the role of facilitator in partners’ development of long-term strategic plans. The initial phase of testing this program is scheduled to be completed by early 2009, when the six partners implementing the pilot phase will meet and review the process and its outputs, before expanding this initiative to reach the entire Partnership within the coming year.

Highlights of the Institute also included a comprehensive review of Women’s Learning Partnership's Leading to Choices print and multimedia curriculum, during which partners shared the cultural adaptation strategies and outcomes of WLP's leadership training methodology. Leadership workshop facilitators, many of whom have been working with these leadership manuals from their inception, commented on the flexibility of the material and offered insights into the extent to which the manuals can be used and adapted on a local level. They shared examples of Leading to Choices adaptations that respond to constituencies ranging from people with disabilities, to youth, NGO leaders, and government officials. In some instances, cultural circumstances require a more refined discussion of the meaning of gender, or more locally relevant examples of leadership and advocacy, and facilitators are able to incorporate these ideas into the curriculum and trainings. Future updates to the curriculum will incorporate more of these locally-adapted scenarios, further hone vocabulary in translations, and provide a physical design that more easily allows trainers to structure a variety of unique programs for specific constituencies. As participants shared their ideas for further shaping the curriculum, they reported numerous success stories, not only of the empowerment of workshop participants, many of whom have formed new associations, initiatives, or advocacy campaigns, but also of the opportunities for learning and outreach experienced by trainers and partner organizations themselves, thus further enhancing the impact of these programs.

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