Our Blog

Women Create and Connect to Networks for Support

Like Camila in Bosnia, Mehria and WfWI graduates
in Afghanistan have formed their own association -
The Future Makers. Photo credit: Rada Akbar

Living in a village in rural Bosnia, Camila and other women in her community had few opportunities to leave their homes, and no say in public decisions. Patriarchal attitudes towards women reinforced Camila’s isolation and added to her family’s difficulties. Unable to leave her home to work, they struggled with poverty. She secretly hoped for an opportunity to take control of her life, but was burdened by feeling like she had no worth. 

But Camila’s life changed when she found new strength through the support of women like her in our program. For the first time, she felt that she had value as a person. Inspired to help other women and drive change in their community, she started the association Most, the Bosnian word for “bridge.” Today, over 100 unemployed women from rural areas are members. Together they are producing handcrafts, souvenirs, and greenhouse goods, organizing a fair twice a year, and strengthening the local economy. “Now we are respected in our families and in the local community,” says Camila.

How We Do It

For 20 years, we have created opportunities for women to develop the strong social connections that underlie their ability to earn and save money, be healthy, and exercise their rights. As women go through our program in a class of 25, they build supportive networks and friendships that reinforce their well-being and resilience in the face of ongoing hardships. Women learn to join their strength, forming cooperatives and associations that connect them to new opportunities and resources years after the program.

See footnote 1. 

Camila and the women of Most demonstrate the power of connecting women to drive change. Inspired to act, nearly 10 times as many women share knowledge of their rights with other women in the community two years after our program. Learn more about the ways we help women connect, share ideas, and join their strength to create a ripple effect across communities.

Connecting Women with Sponsors 

From our start during the Bosnian War to the present day, sponsors from around the world have connected with women in conflict-affected countries to provide important emotional and financial support, standing with women as they begin their journey to rebuild their lives. To learn more about sponsoring a woman in our programs, visit www.womenforwomen.org.

Bringing Together Classes of Peers

When a woman joins our program, she enters a classroom of 25 of her peers – women who share her struggles, hopes, and dreams. Over the course of the year, they build close relationships and inspire each other to join together in businesses or cooperatives, advocate for change in their communities, and more.

Engaging Supportive Life Skills Trainers 

Our life skills trainers lead each class of 25 women through our program. Creating a safe space for women to learn and share their own experiences, life skills trainers develop personal connections with each woman as she begins her journey, both supporting and inspiring her.

Taking Action Through Associations

In Bosnia, graduates of our program have formed over 30 women’s associations in communities across the country to promote women’s rights and participation in local government and community development.

Together, women establish weekly markets, organize public fora and workshops about women’s civic action and violence against women, and encourage women to run for leadership positions, among other activities.

1. This analysis includes participants who were enrolled between October 2009 - October 2010. Data are self-reported at enrollment, graduation, one-year post-graduation, and two years post-graduation. Only participants who were surveyed at all four of these points in time are included in this analysis. Scientifically establishing cause and effect with respect to any program is an involved effort that takes place over years. WfWI's Monitoring, Research, and Evaluation team is engaged in ongoing efforts to establish the effects of our programs more definitively.