WLP Convenes Transnational Partners Meeting in Bangkok

March 2, 2006
WLP Partners in BangkokWomen’s Learning Partnership (WLP) convened its 2005 Transnational Partners Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand from October 25-26, 2005, immediately preceding the 10th AWID International Forum. WLP partners from 13 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East attended. The focus of this strategy meeting was to further define the structure and identity of the WLP Partnership, and to strategize on ways to build our collective capacity and to ensure the future sustainability of our partnership model.

WLP partners seized the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to elaborate on the achievements of the WLP Partnership during the past year and to outline the challenges ahead. At the organizational level, partners noted their appreciation for a genuine partnership based on egalitarian principles and described how they drew support and encouragement from the sense of solidarity that had developed among the partners. One partner stated, “Having a common goal and a common vision strengthens partner organizations and working in partnership helps partners operating in countries hostile to civil society to survive and keep struggling for peace.”

One important benefit appreciated by the membership of the WLP Partnership was the higher visibility they gained for their activism, increasing their access to resources, and enabling the expansion of their leadership programs to new communities. Many partners also felt they had been able to transform their individual organizations by introducing more internally democratic processes and principles of operation.

Group Discussion At the programmatic level, WLP partners celebrated the Partnership’s ongoing commitment to the recognition of cultural diversity and the need for culturally appropriate leadership training, including culturally adapted curriculum. WLP President Mahnaz Afkhami said, “The WLP Partnership has brought to women’s organizing and women’s rights an approach that understands that rights are exercised by an individual in a context that does not separate them from their society, family, and culture.”

WLP partners identified the interconnected issues of resource acquisition and workload management as their two most significant challenges. Many organizations felt they were tempted to take on too much work due to the high demand for their services, finding it difficult to meet all of the expectations created by their leadership training programs. The discussion was wide-ranging, touching on a number of other key challenges, such as balancing multiple relationships with constituencies, supporters, partners, governmental actors, and donors; developing stronger monitoring and evaluation processes; dismantling individualistic leadership styles within women’s organizations; and preserving space for women’s empowerment without alienating men.

The meeting presented an opportunity to reflect on the evolving role of WLP to ensure that the organization best meet the needs of the WLP Partnership. Partners reached consensus on WLP’s crucial role in curriculum development; facilitating the exchange of information and resources within the Partnership; and creating space for partner reflection and dialogue. Partners also approved plans to launch a new WLP Portal in 2006, which will represent the WLP Partnership – in all its collective diversity – in cyberspace. The new WLP Portal will host pages on each WLP partner, as well as dedicate an entire section to the Leading to Choices curricular materials that form the basis of all partners' leadership training programs.

For transnational initiatives such as the WLP Partnership, regular face-to-face meetings play a vital part in fostering the personal and organizational relationships that sustain ongoing collaboration. Partners’ presence in Bangkok over a weeklong period created many opportunities for conversation and celebration, strengthening the basis for the WLP Partnership’s collective work in 2006.
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