By Natalia Karbowska, Board Chair at Ukrainian Women's Fund
IHRFG recently held its semi-annual conference and pre-conference institute in New York. Over the coming weeks, we will share reflections from the grantmakers who came together to explore timely issues in human rights grantmaking. Click here to read more lessons and join the conversation!
This was the first IHRFG conference for me. There are situations in everybody’ professional life when such first experiences do not meet expectations or are not useful. This was not the case for me at IHRFG conference! I did feel welcome and think that many of my expectations were met. There are several reasons for this:
- I received much information and instructions prior to the conference, so I started to prepare in advance;
- The orientation breakfast for newcomers was extremely useful. In addition to learning about IHRFG and the conference, I found out there that I was not the only new participant at the event – this helped to overcome any psychological barriers;
But the most important for me at the conference was an opportunity to meet with like minded people, share my experience and learn from the others. When you come to conferences where the majority of participants are not from your region, you often feel that the topics that are discussed are far from realities you live in. But I found the topics discussed at the conference very appealing to the Ukrainian context.
I would especially like to mention sessions on participatory grantmaking, grantmaking for strategic communications, youth engagement and a meeting of the working group on conflict and mass atrocities prevention. These are the topics that are important for my country now, especially the latter. Ukraine was not prepared for this war, we don’t have experience on how to deal with internally displaced people or how to establish dialogue among people; we don’t know organizations that work on these issues and have relevant experience. So, participation in the conference provided me opportunities to get to know such organizations. This is the value of networking! I hope these contacts will result in real partnerships very soon.
The topics discussed at the conference are also among priorities for women’s funds and women’s rights groups all over the world. How to engage youth, how to make our grantmaking responsive to the needs of local communities – we discuss all these through the International Network of Women’s Funds and of course, hearing other organizations experience is very useful.
I would like to especially thank IHRFG and International Network of Women’s Funds who gave me such a wonderful opportunity to participate in the conference.