Huairou Commission / GROOTS Int’l

Founded in the mid-eighties, GROOTS International is a network of grassroots women’s organizations committed to building a movement that gives voice and power to grassroots women’s local visions and initiatives, attracting long term partners and creating new policies to expand their leadership. The Huairou Commission is a global membership and partnership coalition that empowers grassroots women's organizations to enhance their community development practice and to exercise collective political power at the global level.

GROOTS International, which leads the Huairou Commission’s[1] Resilience Campaign, has worked in the area of disaster response, reconstruction and resilience for more than ten years. In this period, major disasters in India, Indonesia, Turkey, Honduras and Jamaica compelled member organizations in these countries to organize grassroots women to undertake leadership roles in relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts. Addressing gaps and failures in NGO and government programs, affected women were able to demonstrate the substantial productivity and development losses that accrue when women aren’t encouraged to participate.

Focused on mainstreaming women into these initiatives the network has shown how grassroots women’s organizations by staying organized and active in post recovery processes to improve the quality and impact of post disaster investments and also reconfigure power relationships in their communities. Although women were eager to put the experiences of the disasters they survived behind them, they realized that their families and locations of their communities remained risk prone and effected by the drastic changes in the environment as a result of climate change.

Members have realized in the last few years that building the capacity for resilience[2] is central to the survival and protection of community development gains, as climate risks are forcing them to work even harder to secure resources, and shrinks their income earning time and options for securing shelter, care and support to their families. Women have developed strategies for adapting to changing environmental realities as a result of their responsibilities in households, communities, and as stewards of natural resources. As such, GROOTS and its members are expanding traditional definitions of risk reduction and sustainable development to span climate and disaster threats, natural resource management, environmental degradation and food sovereignty.

By integrating these elements into a holistic development approach, it requires GROOTS to continually invest in strengthening grassroots women’s leadership, constituency base and advocacy capacities of grassroots women’s groups so they can function within, and not outside, of the issue based silos that are emerging around these issues. The Resilience Campaign thus invests in organized groups of grassroots women, positioning them as active agents and leaders in devising collaborative solutions to reduce community vulnerabilities to natural hazards and climate change.

GROOTS International is a founder network of Huairou Commission, a coalition of seven women’s networks and partner institutions focused on empowering women to develop their settlements.

The Resilience Campaign defines resilience as the capacity of a community to organize itself to reduce the impact of disasters by protecting lives, livelihoods, homes, assets, basic services, and infrastructure. Resilience includes the capacities of communities to advance development processes, social networks and institutional partnerships that strengthen the ability of the community to cope with and recover from disasters. Central to our approach is the belief that vulnerability, resistance and resilience are all shaped by access to rights, resources and assets. In the pre-disaster context resilience includes measures to pro-actively, reduce vulnerabilities and risks.In post-disaster contexts resilience includes the ability to organize effective relief and recovery processes.