We are excited to share a collection of nine Insights developed through a global public online consultation and in-depth discussions with peacebuilders on the ground.
Women networks serve to empower women by providing them relationships and connections that serve as an arena for them to exercise leadership and practice organizing and by providing spaces for them to share their personal situations and take action on systemic change
As women participate in community activities with other women, they gain confidence from knowing they are not alone in facing challenges at home or in their activism. They learn from other women how to better negotiate freedoms with their families. Taking part in national and international networks provides women prestige at home and legitimacy in their communities. It also provides them with protection when other women are willing to speak out for women at risk. Finally, these networks form a talent pipeline that enables women to rise into political decision-making.
These networks are often built in areas that are not explicitly political. They might involve women organizing activities such as delivering aid or providing information, nonprofits protecting women against violence connecting with each other, or union-organizing activities. Once established, the bonds in these networks are highly resilient. The bonds built between members can be reactivated long after the organization backing the network has died down.
However, the “projectized” nature of development initiatives often means networks do not last long enough to establish these bonds. Transactional projects that pay for a service do not provide the necessary resources for organizing and short-term investments in the community provide these networks with little staying power.
Build budget and time for networking as a core and not peripheral goal in existing initiatives for women.
Create forums and spaces for women to connect and build relationships beyond actual programs.
Involve media in expanding and safeguarding women’s networks so they function as safe spaces.
Build networks upon networks so that event incremental investments can build bonds with staying power.