Womankind goes the extra mile to support our partners in Nepal
The great thing about visiting Womankind projects is not just seeing the work in action, but getting a better understanding of just what a Programme Manager does. I was fortunate to accompany Cintia Lavandera on a visit to partners in Nepal. Cintia has lived and worked in Nepal before and this gives her a good insight into both the working conditions and challenges for our partners, as well as the political framework in which they are operating.
Most Programme Managers working for development organisations focus on monitoring and evaluation, in other words, making sure that the money is spent on the activities it was intended for and that objectives and goals are reached. Womankind does this, but also works with partners to build their own capacity for future work and funding applications. This approach, with a focus on strengthening our partners and the women’s movement, is at the heart of what we do.
So I watched Cintia hold a training workshop on reflection and learning with one of our partners. This was quite a challenge given that none of the participants were native English speakers and there were varying levels of understanding, so Cintia had to be patient and flexible, explaining issues in different ways so that everyone could understand. She had to make sure that everyone was able to participate and that discussions were not dominated by one or two people in more senior positions. And not everything that we take for granted was understood by the participants: the exercise to write issues on separate ‘post-its’ and attach them to relevant posters failed completely because this way of working was so unknown!
Language was an issue throughout the visit. We did not have formal interpreters, but partners would help out. This meant that sometimes people would summarise or put their own spin on what was being said rather than interpret literally. Occasionally we had to ask for a fuller interpretation of what was going on, but it was difficult to make the ‘interpreter’ understand without being offended!
Cintia also had to be encouraging but firm with partners, for example, explaining that failing to turn up on time for a meeting with a senior local official was not good practice, even when there was a good excuse. (The official was unable to see us for more than a couple of minutes and I suspect then only because Womankind visitors from the UK were with the group.)
I was pleased to be able to lend a hand, for instance, interviewing individuals as case studies. Without me, Cintia would have been hard-pressed to cover the formal monitoring and evaluation, training and case studies. It’s hard work to pack everything needed into a week or so, especially when the partners have their own priorities for the visit. At one partner, we were asked to present certificates to the latest group of graduates from a skills-training programme – a pleasure, but a time constraint we hadn’t allowed for. Fortunately, we were able to catch up on our programme by adding a bit more time the next day.
And I was also impressed to see Cintia thinking about the links across Womankind, so, for example, looking for opportunities and examples to use for fund-raising and advocacy outside Nepal.
I know that Cintia is not unique at Womankind and we are lucky to have committed Programme Managers like her. They work hard to support partners in practical ways and to ensure that donors’ money is well spent, and they care deeply about improving women’s rights.
Post by Womankind’s Chair Julie Ashdown