A new strategic direction for Womanity

by Rafia Qureshi, Executive Director, Womanity Foundation.

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It’s 18 months since I joined Womanity Foundation as its new Executive Director. During this time, movements such as #MeToo, #Timesup and the global Women’s March have increased awareness and given voice to thousands. They have highlighted the inspiring network of individuals, organisations and initiatives across the world fighting for women to have equal rights and a chance to fulfil their potential.

At Womanity we have engaged in a process of reflection and questioning to further develop our own capacity and ensure we are fit for purpose as an organisation. At the heart of this work has been a comprehensive strategic review to understand what we have been doing well and where we still need to improve.

A two pillar approach
One of the most significant results from this review has been to align our programmatic work under two pillars: Disruptive Media Solutions, and Institutional Development. The former dedicated to using the power of media to challenge gender inequality and the latter on building the capacity of organisations to successfully scale their operations and impact. This categorisation all based on how we work and our approach, rather than what we do or where we do it. This is our value add and how we contribute to moving the needle in the space of women’s empowerment.

Pillar 1: Disruptive Media Solutions
We know that media is an extremely powerful tool for change. Used well it breaks down barriers and allows us to see the world through the eyes of others. It elicits emotional reactions and can help achieve a tremendous positive impact leading to changes in behaviours and attitudes. Media can play an influential role in transforming power relations, societal norms, and gender relations. Womanity’s Disruptive Media Solutions work to do just this. These programmes include:

  • B100Ragl: An online edutainment series that shines a light on issues affecting Arab women and challenges gender stereotypes.
  • Radio Nisaa: The first all-women radio station in the Arab world. Its dynamic radio programming works to empower, inform, and inspire both women and men in the region.
  • Nisaa Network (in development): Disruptive content via digital channel to inspire, engage and empower millennial audiences in MENA.

Pillar 2: Institutional Development
We’ve also seen the importance in investing in institutional development. It’s vital to the long term sustainability of organisations, yet still hugely underfunded and under resourced. By investing in core costs and strengthening organisational capabilities we can support great organisations to do more and to do it bigger and better. These programmes include:

  • WomenChangeMakers:  Building the capacity of social enterprises in India and Brazil  to scale up and/or replicate high impact business models working to improve the lives of women.
  • The Womanity Award: Unsurfacing organisations working on innovative solutions that address violence against women and fostering partnerships to scale those solutions.  
  • Girls Can Code:  Providing girls in Afghanistan with the core skills needed to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related fields via our local entity in Afghanistan.

Valuing learning
Another outcome of our internal assessment has been a pronounced focus on fostering a culture of reflection and learning. We now have a new practice dedicated to knowledge management, impact and learning to ensure that we continue to challenge our assumptions, question ourselves and capture lessons from our work. These will be used to not only inform decisions within the organisation but also serve as intelligence that we will share with peers and partners to collectively move towards a more gender equitable society.

Looking ahead
Whilst recent progress has been made in raising awareness on gender related issues, there is still much to do. We look to 2019 with a clear vision and a new sense of determination and purpose. SDG5 makes equality everyone’s business. We look forward to collaborating with like minded organisations to make sure it is realised. The time is now – please do get in touch with us!

To learn more about the focus of our work and how Womanity is building a more equitable world, read our Annual Report.