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The Power of Partnership

Through strategic partnerships, IRI’s work is enhanced by being able to offer a wealth of international perspectives.  Over the last year, IRI’s programs in Jordan and Morocco have benefitted greatly from a collaboration with the Eduardo Frei Foundation (EFF), a Dutch organization founded in 1990 and linked to the Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party.  IRI and EFF have partnered on various democracy programs for over a decade, first in the Western Balkans, then in Turkey and now in other places, as well.  Like IRI, EFF works to nurture democratic advancement worldwide, but unlike IRI’s model of establishing in-country programs, EFF works primarily through partnerships with other organizations with an in-country presence in the developing world.  By partnering with us, EFF is able to leverage IRI’s vast in-country networks and interact first-hand with rising political leaders by providing Dutch trainers and experts whose talents and experience add great value to our programs.

Ms. Ingeborg ter Laak, an elected Councilor in the city of Zoetermeer, Netherlands, has brought her wealth of experience in campaigning and elected office to the next generation of women leaders in Morocco, sharing her experiences at a series of Women’s Leadership Conferences organized by IRI in Marrakech, Agadir and Guelmim.  Ms. Ter Laak challenged the women, who had traveled from throughout Morocco’s regions to be at the conference, to seriously consider running for office, and in doing so to choose an issue they would like to solve and to build a personal brand around that issue to form the basis of their campaign.  Women left these events ready to begin their paths toward running for office. 

In January 2015, Mr. David Vriesendorp, a Dutch human rights advocacy expert, joined IRI in Jordan in meeting with persons with disabilities (PwD) to establish the basis of a broader initiative to help disabled persons advocate for their rights.  Mr. Vriesendorp was able to share the Dutch experience of advancing human rights and the rights of PwDs, as well as international best practices on advocacy for the rights of marginalized groups.  During the discussion, participants identified the chasm between the legal rights provided under Jordanian law and the lack of proper implementation of these laws that would make the world around them more accessible. As a result, the participants honed in on the need to monitor implementation of laws as a critical piece of PwD advocacy, identifying the need for skills to raise awareness, coalition building, strategic planning and campaign management in order to be more visible and better accepted as equal and active members of society.

We are thrilled that EFF has agreed to expand its partnership with IRI in the Middle East and North Africa region over the course of the next year.  In Jordan, EFF will continue to partner with IRI to empower the disabled community in its advocacy for greater rights, co-hosting trainings and workshops with disabled activists to provide them with the tools they are asking for.  EFF is also providing experts and in-kind support as part of an ongoing program aimed at helping Jordanian political parties develop policies and issues-based platforms.  In Morocco, EFF will provide trainers for ten events that will prepare candidates, particularly women and youth, for local and regional elections expected in late 2015. 

These partnerships help both IRI and EFF provide a richer, more meaningful exchange of ideas in Jordan and Morocco for all involved.

Posted by

Carrie Schenkel Reasonover

Senior Program Manager, Europe