WLP Partners Convene for 15th Anniversary Transnational Meeting and Strategy Exchange

WLP held its 2014 Transnational Partners Convening (TPC) on October 4-7, in Potomac, Maryland, with WLP board members and representatives of WLP partners from Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Turkey, USA, and Zimbabwe.

In preparation for the 15th anniversary of WLP’s founding, the meeting focused on reviewing the Partnership’s progress over the last 15 years, highlighting WLP’s major achievements, successes, challenges, and lessons learned in curriculum development, training, civil society strengthening, advocacy and movement building, and online learning. Partners also reflected on their major accomplishments and challenges from the past year, as well as issues facing the Partnership, and priorities and strategies for the Partnership’s work to promote women’s rights and democracy in the coming years. 

Most of the countries where WLP partners work have been immersed in political upheaval and transitions, and repression of and threats to human rights and women’s rights groups have increased over the last few years. Despite, and perhaps even because of, the Partnership’s work to implement strong mobilizations and strategies to promote women’s equal rights, the conservative backlash against women’s rights activists in the regions where we work has been intense. This violent backlash is embedded within the wider trends toward conservative governance, increased militarization and emergence of extremist non-state actors, and the overall normalization of violence. Several WLP partners have experienced such high levels of political and social violence that their work had to be temporarily suspended. Within such a tumultuous, shifting context, partners report that being a member of the WLP brings them crucial support and unique value added to their ongoing work.

WLP's Unique Value Added
  • Adaptable culture- and linguistic-specific curricula and training programs
  • A transformational and participatory leadership model aimed to empower women and men to build cultures of democracy
  • Capacity building and support at the partner organization and individual levels
  • Access to, engagement with, and visibility in international spaces of influence
  • Collective advocacy efforts that deepen the impact of legal reforms for enhancing and promoting women’s rights
  • Deep international partnership of solidarity and support
  • Consistent learning, information, and strategy exchanges to help strengthen movements

At the 2014 TPC, partners identified one of the most critical current challenges as the resurgence of fundamentalism around the world, especially in countries in transitional contexts. In the MENA region in particular, but also in other areas, religious fundamentalisms are becoming more entrenched, and conservative backlash and counter-movement rhetoric are increasing. In Central Asia and areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the return of traditionalism based on patriarchy as a form of post-colonial resistance to Western influence has also been quite strong. In many of these countries, fundamentalists frame the NGO sector as connected to the West, as “culturally inauthentic,” imposters, or trouble-makers, which complicates mobilization for equality and women’s rights. Additionally, the increasing strength of political Islamists threatens to undermine and undo women’s rights gains in many countries across the region. Globally, partners report that efforts to strengthen civil society have been radically altered and complicated by the increasing social polarization since 9/11 and its aftermath.

WLP and our partners are at the forefront of analyzing and strategizing for change throughout these transitional contexts. Looking ahead, WLP will continue to focus on its founding themes of women’s human rights, human security, conflict resolution, creating a culture of peace, and the participation of women in peace-building, which have once again become central to our partners’ activities. To address this, WLP will develop new resources and tools on human rights and peace-building. WLP also will introduce new trainings and resources on transitional justice and building a culture of peace and will continue to adapt and publish new language editions of our manuals on violence against women and on women in peace-building.

WLP will work to exponentially increase the reach of our leadership, political participation, and gender equality work grounded in universal human rights in order to train women, help them achieve positions of influence, and exercise effective leadership and decision-making that support human rights and advocate for removing barriers to women’s equality and rights. We will also build on the significant impact that our joint advocacy and movement-building activities have had by strengthening our model of regional advocacy hubs. We will intensify our efforts to engage youth as partners in the struggle to advance universal human rights, and we will continue to foster a deeper multiplier effect through our programs by encouraging the wider application of our training manuals; holding more international and regional Training of Trainers Institutes; expanding the use of our Online Learning Portal, ABAN; increasing our global team of facilitators; and collaborating with networks and organizations that have possibilities for geometric growth embedded in their structure.

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