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Reflections from WLP Central Asia Regional Institute

Posted on 10 May 2013 by

WLP guest-author, Saida Arifkhanova, is trainer and facilitator for journalists with twenty years of experience and a public relations specialist in Uzbekistan. She joined women from Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan at the WLP Central Asia Regional Training of Trainers Institute on Women’s Leadership and Political Participation in Shymkent, Kazakhstan this April as a participant. Saida shares her reflections from the training below.

Saida Blog Post

This training made a very unique impression on me. The participants of this training were beautiful and stylish women, possessing strong character and leadership qualities. Participants were instantly happy to see each other and it was clear that something invisible united them. In all, there were women from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. And there were the four of us—women from Tashkent— representing Uzbekistan.

Gradually, I learned more about those who took part in the training and realized that each of these women has a unique position, and that each is successfully serving her community. Many participants work on issues such as human rights, women’s rights, and protecting women from abuse. I could sense their resolve to act decisively to achieve social change. I could also tell that these women held harmony and calm in their hearts, so when I heard about the struggles they faced everyday in their work I felt confused.

So, I asked many of the women if they were happy. At first my direct question seemed strange to them, and they did not answer me directly. Yet, as the days went by we began to communicate more closely, and many of the women came up to me and began talking to me. Gradually, our communication became more intimate and heartfelt.

I learned that each woman has a complex history behind her—the story of what pushed them to dedicate their lives to creating change. For some, that pivotal event was the experience of an ancient tradition of custom—for example bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan or norms that deny women a voice and a vote, and confine her to her role in her family. Some of what I heard was new to me, as I grew up in a family where my parents always discussed issues openly and made decisions together.

Some of the participants shared first-hand accounts of recent conflict in Kyrgyzstan and human rights abuses. As they shared their experiences and their stories, I realized that these women are making history and that each hard won freedom gives them personal strength and inspiration. So many of these life stories were piercing and unique. I began to see clearly that all of our women from Uzbekistan possess the same features and abilities as our peers in other Central Asian countries, but we have been completely overwhelmed by the need to maintain stability in our country.

During this training it became obvious that our countries are no longer as  similar to one another as they had been before and our realities are quite different today. Tajikistan has experienced a war, Kyrgyzstan has been through two revolutions and many difficulties, Kazakhstan is still overcoming the sharp shock of transition, and Turkmenistan faced leadership transition. In Uzbekistan, we are still struggling to maintain our stability, at the cost of many of the gains of independence. Still, while women in our countries do not speak the same language or share the same experiences, we very clearly understand each other and can relate to each other’s adversities.

Through the training it became very obvious that all these women are educated and independent, and that they will continue to do what they do despite these adversities. However, they still benefit from this access to better tools to support them and the work that they are doing for their communities.

Namely, they benefit from acquiring special skills and knowledge of topics such as,  modern public relations technology, effective communication skills, time management skills, and techniques for developing a vision. In addition to the training provided, this may require a special training facilitated by experts in all these areas. It is obvious that these women will be able to comprehend these complex topics, and from what I saw at the training these women could benefit from even more investment in their tremendous capacities.

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Following My Dreams: Reflections from WLP’s Central Asia Regional Institute

Posted on 23 April 2013 by

Maria Kolesnikova is a citizen journalist in Kyrgyzstan and a volunteer with WLP Kyrgyzstan/Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan. She joined women from Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan at the WLP Central Asia Regional Training of Trainers Institute on Women’s Leadership and Political Participation in Shymkent, Kazakhstan this April as a participant and to present on her own experiences utilizing social media for change as a citizen journalist. Maria shares her reflections from the training below.

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IWDN Coordinator Presents on Women, Tech, and Democracy Panel During Social Media Week

Posted on 05 March 2013 by

On February 19, 2013, as Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) Program Associate and the International Women’s Democracy Network Coordinator, I spoke on the panel, “Women, Tech, and Democracy: The Next Frontier,” as part of Social Media Week in Washington, DC, at the National Democratic Institute (NDI).  I presented on WLP’s successful technology programs, WLP Partner advocacy campaigns that are bolstered by social media, the International Women’s Democracy Network, and WLP’s forthcoming Online Learning Portal, which will serve as a vehicle to build constituent’s capacities by hosting eCourses and webinars.

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Malala Continues to Inspire: Local High School Art Society Auctioning Work to Support Women’s Rights

Posted on 04 February 2013 by

Painting by Christina He of Poolesville High School National Honors Art Society

Painting by Christina He of Poolesville High School National Honors Art Society

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Leadership and Political Participation Classes Motivate and Inspire Lebanese Women to Claim Equal Citizenship

Posted on 11 January 2013 by

Lebanon Graduation

Women graduate from leadership courses in Lebanon take on front roles in stepping up the Claiming Equal Citizenship Campaign in 2013

Lina Abou-Habib

CRTD.A / WLP-Lebanon

6 January 2012

During the past year, CRTD.A engaged in a series of Leadership and Political Participation training targeting Lebanese women married to non-nationals and who suffer from the discriminatory nationality laws in Lebanon which do not allow Lebanese women to transmit their nationality to their families.  The training series which was based on the Women learning Partnership curriculum and methodology aimed at supporting women to play a leading and public role in the Campaign and thus empower them to mobilise their own communities and constituencies.

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Preparing a Young Generation of Activists & Leaders

Posted on 11 July 2012 by

The Global-TOT moves to Morocco

My first visit to Morocco was back in the spring of 1995, in the midst of the frenzy of the preparations for the UN 4th Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995).  I was to meet and connect with feminist organisations there and engage on potential actions within and beyond the framework of the 4th Conference.  That was when I first met brilliant feminists who were to become my greatest friends.  My first encounter with Rabea Naciri and Amina Lemrini was an amazing entry into the world of feminist struggle in the Maghreb countries.  Ever since then, I became intimately involved with the amazing work of the Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc.

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G-TOT Malaysia Speaks Out!

Posted on 24 May 2012 by

Participants from WLP’s most recent Global Training of Trainers (TOT) in Malaysia blog about their experiences:

WLP Malaysia 2012 G-TOT Participants

More Convinced of My Cause
By Endok Sempo M Tahir, WIRDA, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Attending the WLP/AWAM National Training of Trainers Institute for Women’s Leadership and Political Participation is a priceless, nurturing and inspiring experience. It was fun, enriching and mind-stretching—and gave us all a sense of contribution.

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My H.I.P. Experience in Malaysia

Posted on 23 May 2012 by

Ringing sounds of laughter and fun filled the learning environment at the WLP Malaysia/AWAM, National Training of Trainers (N-TOT) in Malaysia. This is the most relaxed and sisterly meeting place I had ever been in the world! The togetherness, warmness, cooperation and respect among Malaysian sisters is really commendable. The energizers from Suraya got me thinking… very enriching and entertaining and took tiredness off the bones.

Malaysia Pre-TOT Ice Breaker Exercise

Malaysia Pre-TOT Ice Breaker Exercise

The secret of the fun and facilitation skills-building sessions…? Hmmm….using the H.I.P principles!!!! “What’s H.I.P.,” did you ask? I’ll tell you, it’s horizontal, inclusive and participatory leadership process…. so eaaasssy! The process was all HIP!!!  from the point of introduction, facilitation, group discussions, etc… the HIP goes on.

Betty shared a little progressive secret with me…and with her consent I am going to share. She informed me of the great success she recorded with the HIP principles during a training session at the Sunway University, Malaysia. Can you believe after session, because of her facilitation techniques, other lecturers commended her for the very impressive participatory approach? The next day Betty saw me, the first thing she excitedly informed me was, “I tried out the horizontal participatory facilitation skills and it worked!” I was stunned and excited, and wished I had been there to experience her happy moment.

Ok, back to the N-TOT – hmm Samah… Samah is such a sweet darling and in-fact a valuable facilitator for WLP. I had never met her before Malaysian N-TOT but the first time I met her she was on my bed sleeping away peacefully.  I was confused but pleased to see she arrived Malaysia safely. Wao!  Samah is NICE personified! She is calm, friendly and willing to learn. In-fact I love WLP’s approach of putting facilitators from diverse background, cultures, languages, etc. such as me from Nigeria, Sindi from the Caribbean Island, Samah from Egypt and AWAM’s facilitators from Malaysia. Without announcing it to each other, we collectively shared a vision under the WLP training methodology and fitted into the roles as though we already rehearsed….

The enthusiasm to participate in team work gave a positive spirit to the training. The lead facilitators had a great role in guiding their co-facilitators for each session and guess what we have about 2 “newbies” with AWAM and some bold ones who tried out their facilitation skills.


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NEWS FROM G-TOT team: Malaysia Training happening NOW!!!

Posted on 23 May 2012 by

Warm, very warm is how I describe WLP Mayalsia/All Women’s Action Society’s (AWAM) reception of the Global Training of Trainers (G-TOT) team to Malaysia. The pre-institute training involved the programme staff and volunteers of AWAM– about 14 women in total attended this session. The learning environment was a very safe space where participants demonstrated mutual respect for the views and opinion of others.

Malaysia GTOT Pre-training May 2012

For me, doing the building blocks of leadership and giving some highlights on women’s political participation was a very empowering process. I was very glad I facilitated learning. And, remarkably, some negative views of politics as “dirty” changed for good. This was as a result of using the WLP Leading to Action manual to clarify issues on politics and power. Happily, the pre-institute participants realized that, in a subtle way, we are all politicians and are in one way or the other involved in the games of politics in our daily interaction. Thanks to WLP, I never knew I had been involved in some level of politics until I facilitated some of the LTA sessions.

In reviewing the multimedia pack, I observed a good level of content appreciation from participants. It really seemed a complicated tool to engage with, but as usual, we reassured them that in life and as a facilitator, one has to learn by practice and the more they involve themselves with the WLP Multimedia pack and training manuals, the better their facilitation skills.

Some of the pre-institute participants described themselves as “Newbies” and asked that we be kind to them!!!! I just imagined some signs of cold feet on their part but amazingly we had a few Newbies who even though acted shy were always ready to try out their facilitation skills. Some of them will be co-facilitating at the National Training of Trainers (N-TOT) with the global team– good for AWAM, Malaysia and good for WLP in general!

In preparation for the N-TOT, the G-TOT had a briefing meeting with some co-facilitators to mentor and provide guidelines for their sessions.

We are all looking forward to the N-TOT Malaysia tomorrow!

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Expanding Impact Across Borders: The Beginning of the Global Training of Trainers Institutes

Posted on 19 October 2011 by

The 19th day of September 2011 set the ball rolling (in totality) for WLP’s Global Training of Trainers Institutes (G-TOT). The second part of the G-TOT training took place immediately after the Transnational Partners Convening in Warrenton, Virginia, USA. Partner organizations from Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Turkey, and Zimbabwe participated in the Introductory Session that was rich, fun-filled, and experiential.

The seven hour Introductory Session was highly interactive and participatory as participants shared experiences and views on how to move the Initiative forward in realising the Partnership’s purpose for the G-TOT. The discussions revealed enthusiasm in achieving the objectives of the G-TOT, as challenges and ways forward were discussed.

The zeal and vision to see through the objectives of the G-TOT prompted discussions that centered on how to adapt the process to each context; the importance of commitments signed on to by facilitators who will form the Global Training of Trainers team — either at the organizational level or as an individual; the use of improvisation at trainings relating to context and specificity of the group of participants without losing WLP’s training methodology; conducting at least one G-TOT in every region of the world; and the need for a clearly stated criteria for participation for all National TOTs.

Of course it was not all about work, work, work! Fun was equally part of the G-TOT either standing out distinctly or at other times entwined with some sessions–making it all memorable and worth partaking in. I will not forget the song and dance steps rendered by Aziza Abemba (Zimbabwe) which speaks to the power of women, and how fast Soraida Hussein (Palestine) caught up with the lyrics and steps of the Zimbabwean music. Another memorable and fun part was an exercise shared by Betty Yeoh from Malaysia (another great facilitator I was privileged to co-facilitate a session with) titled “the blanket exercise.” It stays forever in my memory. Oh, how I miss Ho Yock Lin! There was no dull moment with her!

WLP Partners at the Global Training of Trainers

In all, the Introductory Session was very enriching and fulfilling as a pool of facilitators was realized at the training through the involvement of participants as co-facilitators and interactive sessions and role-plays.

The work has begun and I look forward to be a part of it – directly or indirectly!

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WLP Goes Global: My Experience Facilitating the Global Training of Trainers

Posted on 11 October 2011 by

It’s dinner time at the Airlie Center and participants of WLP’s Partners Meeting were going about with their meals. I, too, was enjoying the lovely dinner when Siobhan approached me to facilitate the initial session of the meeting, “what’s our vision?” and “how do we find shared meaning?”. I immediately said yes and I asked for a blanket (more on this later), which Siobhan kindly obliged. I was actually very excited and anxious at the same time. I knew WLP was going to have a Global Training of Trainers (G-TOT) session at this meeting and came with a mind to learn from the partners. I was really surprised and honoured to be given this opportunity to share the way we at All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) facilitate WLP’s trainings.

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Separate, But Not Equal: Sex-Segregating University Classes Would Fare Poorly for Iranian Women

Posted on 02 September 2011 by

Since the 1979 revolution, Iranian religious conservatives have pushed to segregate college classes by sex, rejecting co-ed classes as un-Islamic and Western. The proposal came under serious consideration only after the post-2009 election protests, when it was seen as an attempt by the conservative elite to quell opposition by cracking down on the campuses they viewed as a hotbed of political dissent. Iranian women’s rights activist Fatameh Goverayi says that the segregation effort is aimed at controlling the women’s movement, which is closely linked to the student movement. Segregation is slated for implementation when classes start this September and could harm the quality of education for female students and have adverse implications for future college applicants.

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