Strengthening Civil Society

Women’s civil society organizations are essential for prosperity, plurality, and peace.

WLP is building the capacities of women’s civil society organizations in the Global South to respond to challenges to women’s rights, human progress, and peace. 

Program Highlights

Peer-to-peer exchanges across four continents 

Annual capacity building seminars for the WLP partners

Online trainings in 5 languages

Curriculum and tools for organizational strengthening 

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Women’s civil society organizations (CSOs) provide services, education, research, and interventions that enrich society and speak for millions of women and men who would otherwise not be heard. A strong and vibrant civil society can hold government and business interests, and even religious authorities, accountable to the laws and values of a country, and promote the objectives of democracy and human rights. WLP is building the organizational, programmatic, and fundraising capacities of women’s CSOs in the Global South to respond to challenges to women’s rights, human progress, and peace. 

In the face of cultural biases, economic disparities, and legal restrictions, WLP helps women’s rights CSOs become more impactful and sustainable. WLP conducts workshops, mentors organization leaders, and introduces funders to the work of our partners and their affiliates. Many of our partners now serve as national and regional coordinators of WLP programming, bringing culturally and legally relevant capacity building and strategic planning tactics to their allied organizations. 

What’s a learning organization? In a learning organization, everyone takes part in decisions. The organization is willing and able to be flexible in relation to its members and in relation to its members’ reactions to what’s happening in the environment. It’s fluid and changing and flexible. These organizations in turn create learning societies that are able to change, evolve, and react.

,WLP President Emerita and Special Advisor (Iran/USA)

Curriculum and Workshops for Capacity Building

WLP conducts capacity building workshops for a wide variety of organizations that promote women’s rights and advancement. In addition to regional and local hands-on workshops, WLP has facilitated online capacity building trainings in several languages, with CSO-representatives from over a dozen partner and non-partner countries. WLP’s capacity-building trainings cover practical tools for growing civil society: grant writing and grants management, budgeting and financial management, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic use of images, video, and social media. WLP’s in-person and online trainings use WLP’s capacity building toolkits and manual, which have been translated and adapted into several languages.  

Best Practices for Building Organizational Capacity Toolkits

WLP’s organizational capacity building series includes three toolkits for online and in-person workshops. 

  • Budgeting and Financial Systems covers practical budgeting and financial management skills, emphasizing how to be financially responsible, transparent, and sustainable, and how organizations can effectively convey their financial acumen to potential funders. 
  • Principles of Monitoring and Evaluation covers how to implement an evidence-based framework for monitoring and evaluating programmatic and organizational objectives.
  • Grants Management from A-Z details how to develop and sustain lasting relationships with funders through careful cultivation and stewardship, including writing a strong proposal and providing consistent, targeted reports.

Measuring Change: Monitoring and Evaluating Leadership Programs—A Guide for Organizations

WLP’s Measuring Change manual provides an in-depth guide to monitoring and evaluating women’s leadership development programs, which face distinct challenges when reporting on the impact of their work. Measuring Change addresses how to evaluate whether a leadership program is really contributing to changing women’s lives, and how to make such programs more effective. Measuring Change’s monitoring and evaluation strategies have been implemented by dozens of WLP’s partners and their affiliated organizations.

Making IT Our Own: Information and Communication Technology Training of Trainers Manual 

WLP's Making IT Our Own manual is used by individuals and organizations to strengthen their capacity to use information technology (IT) and social media to promote human rights. Making IT Our Own’s training sessions focus on gaining fluency in social networks and blogs, office productivity software such as word processing and spreadsheets, internet tools such as RSS feeds and web conferencing, and skills such as being able to establish online privacy and security.

Peer-to-peer Exchanges

WLP facilitates peer-to-peer exchanges among our partners and their affiliates to foster collaboration between organizations and individuals working on similar goals across national borders and geographic regions. Representatives from one organization travel to another organization to work together for several days on a capacity building initiative. These initiatives frequently include strategic plans, development outreach, and campaign strategies. The exchanges lead to new advocacy initiatives, and build momentum for political movements regionally and internationally. WLP ensures that the peer-organizations have linguistic compatibility and share similar social and economic challenges in their work, so that everyone feels respected, understood, and empowered throughout the process. WLP’s peer-to-peer exchanges have been popular and successful because we ensure that the meetings are between individuals who are very familiar with each other’s organizations and activities, and who are equally committed to each other’s success. 

Transnational Partners Convening and Global Training of Trainers 

WLP is a builder of networks. We believe that collective action begins with collective thinking, so we bring together women, and men, from across the globe to exchange their experiences, ideas, and goals. From these meetings emerge a shared vision and shared objectives that strengthen the work of all of the individuals and organizations that are participating. 

WLP hosts two types of international gatherings of women’s rights activists each year: 

  • Transnational Partners Convening (TPC): The annual TPC is an opportunity for representatives from all of our partner organizations to review their organizational achievements with each other, and to discuss the challenges they are facing. The partners evaluate their progress on WLP’s collaborative initiatives, and set new goals for themselves for the coming year, including the development of new WLP programs and materials. 
  • Global Training of Trainers (GTOT) Institutes: WLP organizes GTOTs for leading activists to come together to practice and use WLP curriculum to strengthen their training and advocacy work. The GTOTs provide hands-on experience and critical knowledge-sharing among activists working on similar issues, such as empowering refugee women and reforming discriminatory family laws.

WLP Partner Hub Model

We launched our partner hub model of mentoring and program coordination in 2008, with the aim of building the capacity of our partners to create and sustain their own local partnerships, based on WLP’s international partnership. The partner-led hubs bring together like-minded organizations and activists to collaborate on expanding WLP’s training programs and advocacy campaigns nationally and regionally. The hubs provide their partner organizations with organizational, programmatic, and personnel support, serving to strengthen individual women’s organizations, and sustain civil society more broadly.

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