Women’s Participation Program Study Tours Encourage Innovation Through Learning Experiences

September 2, 2014

Learning from the experiences of others can be an extremely helpful tool when working on implementing a program. Counterpart International’s Women’s Participation Program in Azerbaijan believes that idea is key for its programs and recently took two groups of women leaders on study tours to Poland and Turkey.

Women social workers from the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs traveled to Ankara, Turkey from June 16-23. The tour allowed the seven participants to interact and learn from their Turkish colleagues, seeing how they work with women victims of domestic violence. The group visited a number of facilities that work with at-risk women and families, and saw a special rehabilitation center that focuses on young female victims. Seeing the roles of the centers within the community and the positive impact they were having struck a number of the participants, and made them want to establish similar centers when they returned to Azerbaijan. To read more about the tour, click here.

A group of six representatives from Azerbaijani NGOs that focus on women’s issues took part in a “Gender, Media and Advocacy” study tour to Warsaw, Poland from August 10-15. The representatives experienced firsthand how their Polish counterparts incorporate women’s issues into the social-political agenda and ask them questions and learn from their experiences and struggles in implementing gender equality.

“The acquaintance of Azerbaijani NGOs with the elements of effective and successful advocacy campaigns to protect women’s rights was a key takeaway for the participants,” said Ilgar Agassiyev, Chief of Party for the Azerbaijan Women’s Participation Program. “These organizations will be able to use the information and experience to advocate for issues that most concern Azerbaijani women and teach them how to establish sustainable partnerships with local media, as they saw their Polish counterparts do successfully.”

Shahla Ismayi, the Chairman of the Women’s Association for Rational Development, found that seeing how organizations work with the local media was an extremely effective part of the tour. “The work by the newspaper Vyborcha, one of the biggest newspapers in Poland, is quite amazing. This newspaper organizes campaigns based on the daily social needs. One campaign called ‘Rodit bo lyudski’ (to give birth as a human) was aimed at improving the attitude of medical workers towards female patients and resulted in reforms in the health sector,” she said.

“What I liked most during our study visit to Poland was how effectively advocacy campaigns are organized by NGOs,” said Mehriban Zeynalova, Chairman of the ‘Clean World’ Women’s Support Center. “One of the most memorable meetings during the visit was at Amazonka, an Oncological Center for women suffering from breast cancer. They do rehabilitation work with the patients through every aspect of the treatment process and were also able to provide medications.”

The Women’s Participation Program in Azerbaijan is funded by USAID and looks to improve the status of women by raising public awareness and empower more women to engage in political processes. It also aims to develop the capacity of women-focused civil society organizations and government institutions that work on women’s issues.

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