The more that women come together in numbers in an organized way, the more power they are capable of exercising. People who do not have access to the traditional channels of power must be organized in order to effect change. This principle applies to building constituencies of individuals at the local, national, regional and global levels. When grassroots women have organized constituencies, such as self-help groups, cooperatives, federations and networks, locally, nationally and globally, they can respond to issues in their communities as they emerge, and can hold government and other institutions accountable.
Women in poor communities are storehouses of experience and knowledge. Grassroots women are experts on their own realities, with robust knowledge and practices. Organized groups of grassroots women therefore must be supported to build on and develop that knowledge. Effective development practice must position grassroots women as experts, teachers and trainers, not as beneficiaries or targets. Grassroots women from different organizations and countries need to come together to share and analyze their knowledge, so that they develop a global critical consciousness and a collective discourse and political agenda for global change.
Principled partnerships are vital for community-driven, women-led development to succeed, and spread local successes around the globe. Grassroots women organizing to build democracy and sustainable development need partners who can legitimize and institutionalize grassroots work and expertise, raise their work up to the global level, leverage resources, and use their own knowledge and connections to influence policy. At the same time, development partners who are working to improve local communities (local and national governments, development agencies, NGOs and other professionals) need grassroots women for their local expertise and access, to reach the poor communities they are trying to make an impact in, and ensure the interventions they are designing and implementing will be effective.
Grassroots women from organized groups must be empowered with the capacity to participate in decision-making at all levels - from local community boards, to provincial assemblies, national governments and at the United Nations - if women's empowerment is going to be achieved, and if the decisions taken in those places are going to make a positive difference for communities over the long run.