After working virtually together for about two years, the YW4A partners finally met face to face for the first time in Nyeri County in Kenya this past June. The meeting brought together key YW4A staff from all 8 core consortium partners after a rigorous journey of proposal development, programme inception and kickstarting operations during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Organised by the Consortium Lead, World YWCA, the five day – convening’s objectives were to build a positive working culture among partners, and to reviewing strategic programme areas. The meeting gave opportunity to meet old and new friends, putting faces to names and building bonds that are crucial to the success of YW4A.
The first two days of the convening focused on sessions and experiential activities which contribute to building trust, cohesion, collaboration and a sense of shared purpose among the consortium partners.
One critical outcome of the sessions was joint development and agreement on the team’s core values (IRAC) to guide the consortium culture and work:
- Integrity – internal and external accountability
- Respect – acknowledging and appreciating each individual and each partner’s uniqueness and expertise
- Agility – being responsive in an innovative way to a dynamic environment/needs
- Collaboration – ensuring harmony and complementarity through inclusive participation.
Other outcomes where an interrogation of communication and collaboration challenges faced, identifying and assessing potential solutions, review of working relationships date and embracing organisational change through appreciative inquiry. Through this method of discovery, dream, design and destiny, the partners contrasted the “Wall of Greatness” and the “Wall of Ambition” to review past work and visualize the future of the programme in a positive and empowering framework. Using the Balanced Scorecard, the partners assessed their day to day work with the objectives and overall goal of YW4A, prioritized activities, processes and stakeholders and aligned this with the framework to monitor and measure progress towards strategic targets.
The last 3 days focused on joint dialogues on identifying opportunities and lessons from the programme, and building them into country and partner workplans. These included resolutions to:
- Enhance country and sub-national programme oversight and accountability, through strengthening the local coordination mechanisms – the Country coordinating Committees.
- Integrate trauma informed care into activities with young women, as survivors of violence against women have found safety and courage to speak out in the YW4A safe spaces, while others are triggered by the stories of other young women that are similar to theirs.
- Improving accountability through evidence-based reporting. This will be achieved through investing in IATI capacity building and the development of M&E tools and reporting templates that capture and analyse the required evidence for advocacy and impact demonstration.
The week ended with an engaging Policy Dialogue with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in the Hague), represented by Maaike Hofman, the Deputy Coordinator Taskforce Women’s rights and Gender Equality, and Froukje Gaasterland, the Senior Policy Advisor in the same Taskforce. Froukje is also the YW4A focal point in the Ministry. The dialogue reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to listening to and working with women’s rights organisations, as they play a crucial role in empowering women and girls, and in setting in motion structural processes of change aimed at gender equality. This is a commitment that the YW4A consortium has taken to heart and is in turn commitment to building and sustaining internal capacity and cohesion to ensure effective and efficient implementation and strategic management of the joint YW4A initiative with the Dutch Ministry.