The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Partnering with multiple stakeholders will increase support for your work and give you greater access to resources

At the WHEAT Women’s Fund, we engage with multiple stakeholders and development agencies, in order to ensure that our engagement and advocacy as civil society actors is holistic, cuts across diverse sectors and ultimately has a greater and lasting impact.

Our collaboration with government agencies in South Africa has mainly been with the local and provincial Departments of Social Development (DSD) and the Departments of Health (DOH). In the last few months, we have partnered together and held convening’s.

Representatives from these departments have come to our convening’s and formed an integral part of our information sharing sessions and peer-learning’s with grassroots women about their socio-economic rights, and what recourses and channels are available to women. In this way, WHEAT bridges the gaps and creates safe spaces where grassroots women can access local governance structures, which would otherwise be inaccessible. Also, government agencies offer accredited training opportunities and knowledge that is supporting our grassroots women-led community based organizations to establish and formalize. These include obtaining Non Profit Organization (NPO) status and being registered in their databases as recipients of information and funding opportunities. Lastly, the Government departments also have material resources and financial support that WHEAT can tap into.

The corporate sector has mainly functioned as our donor base, through their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) programmes. However, WHEAT is increasingly engaging with the corporates as partners in implementing strategic developmental plans and as consultants, due to our extensive networks and experience; as well as our credibility and access to grassroots women. Furthermore, WHEAT has identified a niche with the corporate sector in South Africa, which is currently male-dominated, where we are educating them on issues pertaining to human rights for women, as well as philanthropy for women’s funds.

Our partnership with schools and universities is mainly through our ‘girl talk’ convenings. WHEAT believes in an intergenerational approach to development. We therefore support women and girls in our work and have initiatives aimed at promoting leadership among girls between the ages of 14 and 19 years, in high school.Some students from the university are involved with us as volunteers and research associates. We are also affiliated with socio-economic departments and societies in the universities around us, mainly in the capacity of non profit sector education, especially on women’s funds, feminism and philanthropy.

The advantages of a multi-pronged developmental approach, with a variety of stakeholders, is that we leverage more support for our work and have greater access to a diversity of resources. Also, central to WHEAT is the ideology that we should not work in isolation, so collaboration results in a stronger civil society initiative.

The risks of collaborating with a myriad of developmental agencies is that they may be many areas of interest represented, and usually, the gendered and feminist debate can get swallowed in the greater socio-economic and political discourse. Our agenda is the women’s agenda, and in a patriarchal society, that is not always well received, especially in religious settings and spaces.

Nompilo Cindy Ndlovu, Programme Manager
Cape Town, South Africa
Member of Women's Funding Network since 2003

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