In our experience, principled partnerships are vital to make community-driven, women-led development work. Neither grassroots women nor their partners in development agencies and governments can create change all on their own.
The Huairou Commission builds transformative partnerships between grassroots women leaders and development professionals in agencies and governments. In these partnerships, grassroots women provide local expertise, leadership and experienced insight, while development professionals provide access to decision-making spaces, connections with people of power and resources. Each partner is considered an equal contributor.
Grassroots women’s knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in development–based on their grounded expertise–is invaluable. Working directly with these leaders creates opportunities for development professionals to connect with real experiences on the ground, and helps ensure that development practices lead to sustainable changes. Grassroots women leaders within the Huairou Commission act as representatives of large constituencies, allowing them to provide widespread feedback to validate and support positions of development professionals.
Development professionals are valued for their commitment to equitable development and social change, and establishing new ways of working, often against great institutional resistance. Working with professional can legitimize the voices and work of grassroots women, giving them access to decision-making spaces, resources and connections to institutional support for their work. Grassroots women leaders can expand their networks and partnerships, and gain important intellectual capital relating to development practices and technical capability.
The Huairou Commission additionally maintains a range of institutional partners who agree to co-campaign and create opportunities for grassroots women’s leadership. These partners openly support the empowerment of grassroots women’s organizations, identify strategic opportunities to showcase grassroots women’s work and practices, and identify resources for local and global advocacy and action.