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Women to Women Network

In communities that are dominated by men, a women’s network that is truly managed and run by local women can bring tremendous opportunities and help to women and girls in that community. Similar to a multi-divisional organization, this network is made up of multiple divisions that each focuses on a particular need in that community. For example, education, communication, support, event coordination, resource management, etc.

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Written by DeletedUser

When it comes to providing help and support to women that are in need can be challenged by various type of barriers. Such as, culture, religion, gender domination, government, etc. Moreover, if the help and support are coming from outside sources, it is even more difficult to penetrate through the barriers. So an “outside in” approach might prolong or even can be ineffective in some cases.  For example, when a solution is provided without knowing the details of the problem or the root cause can lead to ineffective solutions.  This is where an “inside out” approach can help.

I like to introduce a Women to Women Network system that works locally in communities to help and support women and girls with whatever the issues that they are facing. This network is made up of various groups or divisions that each focus on a particular need in that community. For example, education, communication, support and event coordination.  This is also locally run and managed by local women that knows the community really well. There is no hierarchy in this network. Each group is connected to one another and works together in parallel to address women’s need. Another distinctive future of this network is that there is no one person in charge of a group. It is a collective effort by all the women that belongs each of the groups.

Let’s look at the roles of each of these groups

Education: This group focus on education and the related topics. They can conduct classes on safety, help to spread the awareness, learn what is going in the community, etc. For example let’s say if this group finds out self-defense helps to empower women in their community, they can work with the group that can organize events to bring in experts in the area to conduct class as such.

Support:  This group focuses on providing individual support and resources to women.  They can work closely with (one on one basis) woman who is in need of help.  It could be domestic violence, social safety, self-empowerment or even just talking and listening to them. It can also provide resources, such as a cell phone, flash light, etc to women who do not have access to these resources.

Communication: This group focuses on all communications. It could be between the groups or to women in the community. They are also be working closely with other groups and are responsible for the flow of the information. This group will be good contact point for organizations and individuals that are outside of the community who wishes to reach out and support.

Event Coordination: In a community, this group is essential. Whether organizing small focus group sessions or creating community based events, this group can help to organize these events.

Each of these groups are focused on their roles but work closely with other groups in the network to function. This multi group model brings flexibility and helps the network to focus multi areas. This will also alleviate any one group taking on all of these responsibilities. All the partakers in this network are volunteers from the same community who knows the nature of that community and how it works. This is key for creating an effective impact and for the continual success of the network.

For communities who wishes to implement this program, it will provide an ideal structure and a plan of the network. The plan will not mandate how to run this program in a certain way. But however, should provide options if there are any and it should be implemented and run based on how and what works in the community where it is being targeted. There will be no offices. It should be strictly be a self-driven women to women network.

 A design snap shot of this network is provided in figure 1

Explain your idea in one sentence.

A network that is maintained by local women in a community to help, support, communicate, organize, share and educate other women and girls in that community to empower and to be safe.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

A network system that can provide solutions to multiple needs of women and girls in a community.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The beneficiaries are the women and girls from the communities where this network program is implemented. Since this is a locally run network and the partakers are from the same community who knows each other (a neighbor, mother, daughter). This should help women and girls to reach out easily and get help. The success of this program in a community can be monitored by decrease in the number of crimes against women and girls. And the increase in the sense of empowerment that this network provides to each women and girls. Working with the Women to Women network, a quarterly or yearly survey can also help to gage the success of this program.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

To implement this program in a community, it has to be done through an organization that is already working in that community. It can be a NGO or a religious groups who are not bias in any way. It can also be the local government or an entity working with the local government.

Where should this idea be implemented?

The ideal place to implement this idea would be in places that are hard to penetrate, places that are culturally and religiously bound.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

The prototyping and testing of the idea can be done through working with an NGO or a religious group ( for example a local church).

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Photo of Ammara Sheikh
Team

Totally admire the way u have evolved our idea into a networking platform. That could be greatly beneficial for the community at large and also help address other women issues. Having a space to share experiences can result in some useful actions being taken.
All the best!

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Photo of Jamie Beck Alexander
Team

Great contribution, Melvin! It would be great to know where you are located so the community can support you in brainstorming some NGOs or informal networks that you might connect with to move this idea forward.

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Team

DeletedUser

Hi Jamie, I am located in New York .. a student @ NYU

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Photo of Jamie Beck Alexander
Team

Thanks Melvin! As Meena suggested, you might consider updating your OpenIDEO profile with some information about yourself. Looks like there are lots of exciting things going on at NYU - look forward to seeing what comes of all these collaborations!

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Photo of Meena Kadri
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Great thinking, Melvin! We wonder whether you might reach out to a local NGO who works with low-income communities to start to try some part of this idea out to see what you could learn to evolve it further? Here's some tips on considering what you might try out: http://ideo.pn/pr0t0type Just getting in touch with an NGO could be helpful to get their feedback and input as you iterate this exciting idea. You can update your post with fresh thinking and feedback at any time by hitting the Update Entry button on the right of your post.

And here's a friendly tip: update your OpenIDEO profile so folks can dig who they're collaborating with. Think skills, experience, passions & wit! Looking forward to seeing more of you across conversations on this challenge...

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DeletedUser

Thanks for your feedback and tip Meena. We will work on talking to a NGO and try to get their take on this.