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Global Grassroots Women's Congress

The Inaugural Grassroots Women’s Congress: For Grassroots Women, By Grassroots Women

The Inaugural Grassroots Women’s Congress & World Urban Forum 9 February 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 


In February 2018, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia became the epicenter of organizing for more than one hundred grassroots women leaders from around the world. They came together for the inaugural Global Grassroots Women’s Congress, a pivotal event for affirming their commitments to and strategies for movement-building and collective action for resilient development.  The Congress was strategically timed to contribute to World Urban Forum 9, which took place from February 7-13, 2018, allowing grassroots women leaders to widely share outcomes of the Congress, advance agreed-upon policy priorities, and build new partnerships that support government efforts to move from policy to implementation. We are eager to share the outcomes of the inaugural Global Grassroots Women’s Congress (GGWC), which took place last month from February 4-5, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is an update on the state of transitioning Huairou Commission to a member-led organization, you can learn more about the events of the GGWC and the exciting ways you can remain engaged in leading and guiding the Huairou Commission. We aspire to continue the energetic level of participation and collective spirit that surrounded the Congress, and to continue to find mechanisms to expand member engagement as well! One of the key moments of the Congress was the election of the Huairou Commission’s new Chair and Governing Council. The establishment of a governance structure that places grassroots women at the center of the organization’s decision-making reflects Huairou Commission’s commitment to bottom-up approaches and to empowering grassroots women. It was a joyful and moving atmosphere when Violet Shivutse of Shibuye Community Health Workers in Kenya was unanimously voted as the new Chair of the Governing Council.

The Governing Council consists of 15 seats: 5 regional representatives, 4 “at large” grassroots women representatives, 4 facilitating NGO representatives, and 1 Founding Network representative. We are thrilled to introduce your newly elected Governing Council below: Regional Representatives Africa – Violet Shivutse, Shibuye Community Health Workers, Kenya Asia – Bindu Shreshta, Community Women’s Forum, Nepal Caribbean – Lana Louise Finikin, Sistren Theater Collective, Jamaica Latin America – Haydee Rodriguez, Las Brumas, Nicaragua North America/Europe – Rut Kolinska, Network for Family (Czech Mothers Center), Czech Republic At Large Grassroots Women Representatives Analucy Bengochea, WAGUCHA, Honduras Arlene Hache, Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group, Canada Delores Robinson, GROOTS Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago Jhocas Castillo, DAMPA, Philippines Relinda Sosa, CONAMOVIDI, Peru Facilitating NGO Representatives Limota Goroso Giwa, International Women’s Communication Center, Nigeria Magdalena Garcia Hernandez, MIRA, Mexico Mary Balikungeri, Rwanda Women’s Network, Rwanda Şengül Akçar, KEDV, Turkey Founding Network Representative Maite Rodriguez, Women and Peace Network, Guatemala First decisions of the newly elected Governing Council were to: (i) Appoint four Executive Committee officers: Vice Chair: Lana Louise Finikin Treasurer: Şengül Akçar Secretary: Arlene Hache Membership Committee Chair: Limota Goroso Giwa (ii) Appoint Sandra Schilen as the Executive Director. Additionally, in Kuala Lumpur, the Members Congress named Jan Peterson as Honorary President to offer guidance as needed. A Council of Elders was also created to provide grassroots leaders with access to mentoring, knowledge transfer, and institutional and professional contacts relevant to building a strong global network.


Approval of Global Grassroots Women’s Congress Documents

Another significant outcome of the Congress was the approval of foundational documents including the Three-Year Strategic Plan, the Bylaws, and the Social Compact which has been adapted to include the Membership Policy.

Three-Year Strategic Plan
Member’s input to the Three-Year Strategic Plan during Congress is being consolidated and will include regional plans.

The Bylaws were voted on, approved, and have been adapted based on input from the Congress. According to the Bylaws, there will be an annual member meeting. It will be held online, with an in-person meeting every three years.  

Social Compact with Membership Policy 
The Social Compact with the Membership Policy has also been adapted based on input from the Congress. You can find the most updated version of the Social Compact attached. Please note that is a living document, meaning that it will continue to be revised. Revisions will occur in the following areas: Membership & Governance and Policy & Partnerships. Regional working groups will be held to gather input; surveys will be disseminated as well. If you are interested in participating, please remain alert as we will be reaching out over the upcoming two months.

Working Group on National Platforms

We will also be establishing a working group on the national platforms (previously referred to as “national pilots”) with provisions to continue this initiative over the coming years. The working group will help align the national platforms with local-to-local dialogues and the community practitioners platform, amongst other functions. We encourage members and groups interested in participating, particularly those who hosted national pilots, to stay tuned for further information.

Grassroots Women’s Engagement at WUF9

The Congress was organized as an official pre-event for the Ninth Session of the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum (WUF9), which took place from February 7 to 13, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. During the GGWC, Huairou Commission members had a space to develop strategic messages and discuss partnership goals in preparation for WUF9.

Huairou Commission is proud to have been engaged in the following spaces during WUF9: Lead organizer of the Women’s Assembly and the Grassroots Assembly; Lead organizer of three Stakeholder Roundtables: Women, Grassroots, and Indigenous Peoples; Lead organizer of the daily Women’s Caucus; Lead organizer of a networking event on climate finance and a side event on climate resilience; Collaborative role in the Business Assembly, the Older Persons Stakeholder Roundtable, and more than 25 networking and side events.

Hosting the first ever Grassroots Assembly at a World Urban Forum held particular significance for the organization and we were honored to have Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the new UN-Habitat Executive Director, present for both the Women’s Assembly and the Grassroots Assembly.


Donate today to help women showcase their initiatives and make a change at the World Urban Forum 9.