This programme was based on the work that was being done by the ‘network members’ of IWE, principally, but not exclusively, within the five-year research and action programme ‘Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Contexts’ (WEMC) (http://ww.wemc.com.hk). This loose network encompasses formal and informal organisations in Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Afghanistan, as well as in cross-border contexts among Indonesian migrant workers.
From the beginning of the WEMC programme in July 2006, field researchers and resource persons had been engaged in participatory processes with women in various urban and rural communities in the countries and contexts mentioned above. These processes included interactive learning, documentation and understanding of women’s context-appropriate empowerment strategies. In the four and a half years of the progamme, much was learnt and documented about women’s own initiatives to empower themselves, the challenges they need to overcome, and the resources they have been able to mobilise. The knowledge acquired included conceptual, methodological, strategic, comparative and political aspects of women’s empowerment processes.
This programme was IWE’s attempt to organize a sharing and application of the learning described above. These exchanges, properly documented, will be a great asset to others embarking on similar (research cum action cum advocacy cum organisation) projects in future.