We employ a 4-pronged strategy in our work that expands grassroots women’s abilities to exercise their collective power on local and global playing fields.
• Identifying decision-makers and allies who recognize grassroots women as experts, and engaging them through events such as joint training programs.
• Organizing action research on issues and presenting the findings and recommendations to officials.
• Establishing agreements to collaborate with governments to plan, implement, scale up, monitor or evaluate programs.
• Accessing government resources or budgets for grassroots initiatives.
Development approaches aimed directly at empowering women lead to far-reaching changes in the lives of women, their households and communities. Empowerment of grassroots women not only transforms women’s socioeconomic positions within households and communities, but also the relationships of community groups to governance structures, including institutions of local self-government. By positioning women in public roles that fundamentally transform institutional relationships, significant implications for good governance and inclusive, equitable development are realized.
Advanced grassroots leaders mentor, train and and advise less experienced grassroots groups on strategies for mobilization in response to a range of development issues in their communities. When women learn to take on new leadership roles that position them as trainers, mobilizers, mappers (of risks, vulnerabilities and resources), monitors, fund managers and grassroots advocates, they are already changing their status and positioning themselves to transform decision making and development processes.
A key aspect of Huairou’s approach to empowering women to transform development is building their awareness and analysis, and nurturing their practices in response to everyday, practical problems. Over the past 20 years, grassroots groups within the Huairou Commission’s network have been taking collective actions to respond to these problems, such as access to housing, land, livelihoods, basic services and decision-making in relation to sustainable agriculture, food security and natural resources, including:
• Building an awareness of where, what and who is vulnerable, and identifying resources or strategies that reduce risk and build resilience with communities and decision-makers.
• Developing pilots to demonstrate the benefits of grassroots women-led solutions.
• Developing a set of signature tools, including peer exchange, risk mapping and Local-to-Local Dialogue.
• Federating and linking community and women’s groups to build on community development.
• Strengthening coalitions and networks through joint planning, implementation and evaluation.
• Expanding networks by transferring knowledge and practices to new groups.
• Identifying allies, such government officials, donors, researchers and NGO leaders who are prepared to collaborate on or champion grassroots women’s roles in advancing community resilience.
• Developing tools, including Peer Learning Exchanges, Grassroots Academies and the Community Practitioner’s Platform for Resilience.