Women, by nature of their role as the primary caretakers of their families and communities, have the greatest insight into the serious issues facing society at the grassroots level — they intimately understand the underlying root causes of the problems. As such, their leadership is critical in defining priorities for families, communities, and national government in the wake of conflict or war. Once the basic needs of their families are met, the women we speak with are eager to address other issues facing their communities such as gender-based violence, alcoholism, malnutrition, property rights, girls’ education, literacy, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, water access, and homelessness. Yet women, especially the vulnerable and uneducated, almost always have the least access to the financial resources, education, skills training, and other support services needed to advance their plans for social change or attend to their own rehabilitation needs.
In order to rebuild post-conflict societies and advance the standing of women and girls, women and girls need to acquire the skills and resources to heal from violence, develop as self-aware leaders, and design effective, sustainable, and compassionate solutions to the social issues they and their communities face. Global Grassroots’ approach results in its trainees investing in their own wellness and self-understanding as well as developing their capacity to lead social change. We offer a hands-on, experiential program with methods that differ from conventional approaches. For most participants, this represents their first practical leadership experience – a powerful growth opportunity to heal from trauma, realize their value, engage the support of local leaders, learn from mistakes, develop confidence, find purpose, and initiate social change critical to their communities. We call this ‘Conscious Social Change,’ where inner and outer transformation strive to advance a whole, just, and compassionate society.
Our Women’s Academy for Conscious Change welcomes teams of vulnerable, grassroots women in post-conflict regions who together wish to work to improve life for girls and women like themselves. Participants are disadvantaged women, including heads of orphan households, single mothers, war widows, and subsistence farmers, often with no more than a primary school education. With training, participants expand their self-awareness, develop tools for transforming social ills, and develop the capacity to initiate change responsibly and compassionately. The program last 12-18 months after which teams are running operations entirely on their own.
Our Young Women’s Academy for Conscious Change is designed for high-performing yet vulnerable young women throughout East Africa and surrounding countries. The Academy takes place over nine months beginning soon after they graduate from secondary school. It is at this time that young women are most vulnerable to male predators, early pregnancy, early marriage, and pressure from families to help support the household, any of which can derail their plans for higher education. The program often gives them their first opportunity to apply their innate leadership skills, give back to their communities, and create change through a volunteer endeavor of their own design, addressing a range of issues from teen pregnancy to early marriage. By catalyzing young women to engage in their own priorities for development, we help create an underlying culture of collaboration, equitable involvement, and empowerment. Ultimately, creating conditions that value girls and young women paves the way for future generations of women to be seen as leaders and innovators in their communities.