New Era with BİRLİKTE
Starting a job is half the battle. Especially when it comes to writing an article on a subject! I have been struggling for days to write an introduction to the article I am going to write for our column in Siviliz dedicated to the BİRLİKTE Program, and this saying is very much true. Where should I start, how should I explain it?
I think there is no need to start from scratch to describe BİRLİKTE in this second implementation period. So, I must begin somewhere. I believe the missing parts will be filled by the section we allocated to BİRLİKTE on our website. The reason for my initial struggle is actually the long history behind BİRLİKTE. BİRLİKTE is a product of various efforts and collective learning we have undertaken at STGM and within the civil society with different colleagues over the years. Without acknowledging and paying tribute to those efforts, the story would be incomplete. Therefore, I want to start by wholeheartedly greeting everyone who contributed to this journey.
BİRLİKTE is an institutional development model we developed for civil society organizations. The model consists of institutional grants and mentorship support for institutional development. We have been implementing BİRLİKTE as an EU-funded sub-grant mechanism since 2017. The second implementation period of our program started in January 2022, and the support mechanism came into effect in February 2023. During this period, we will work together with a total of 25 civil society organizations participating in the program for two years.
So, what are our goals with BİRLİKTE? How do we aim to contribute to the supported organizations, ourselves, and the civil society at large?
First and foremost, we focus on supporting the participating organizations by covering their basic institutional expenses, such as rent and personnel, so they can fulfill their core functions. While doing so, we also work towards strengthening their institutional structures through the model, resources, and tools we provide.
As in the previous period, a colleague from our program team will mentor each organization throughout the two-year process to facilitate the journey. We want the organizations participating in BİRLİKTE to strengthen their institutional structures and continue to contribute to their target groups and civil society as effective actors after the completion of the program.
We see this whole process as a crucial opportunity for learning and development, not only for ourselves but also for civil society as a whole. We are committed to conducting our program in an environment of mutual trust that fosters continuous and collective learning and ownership. In doing so, we believe that one of the key words is "sincerity".
The basic principles on which the program's institutional development model is based are also the basic principles on which rights-based work is built. We don't want universal principles like participation, transparency, and accountability, which we constantly emphasize, to remain mere words. As civil society organizations in the program, we collectively think about how we can better implement and improve these principles both in our own management processes and in the areas in which we work. We make sincere efforts to identify our strengths and areas for improvement and work in solidarity to enhance them. Knowing the significant importance of this sincere effort in civil society and its potential multiplier effect, we strive to walk with responsibility, engage, and foster relationships.
New priorities, methods, and tools in the new implementation period
In this implementation period, we have included some new priorities, methods, and tools in our support. We strive to design BİRLİKTE as a space to test and disseminate new methods, tools, and approaches in the civil society. We see ensuring the effectiveness of this opportunity for civil society as a responsibility.
This period, we focus on gender equality mainstreaming as a priority area within our program. All participating organizations will work on gender equality mainstreaming as part of their institutional development process. Our GEMI (Gender Equality Mainstreaming Initiative) expert in the program will facilitate this process. In addition, we aim for BİRLİKTE for TCEA Initiative, in which the organizations in the program will voluntarily participate, to lead these efforts and provide information, resources and motivation. This will be a new experience for us too. With all its ups and downs, we know that this experience will be a significant learning opportunity for the entire civil society and similar programs. In the coming months, we will regularly share with you the current developments related to this matter.
BİRLİKTE Hub as a collective learning space
Another important innovation is our BİRLİKTE Hub, or our BİRLİKTE Learning Community.
The previous period of BİRLİKTE showed the value and potential of the collective learning environment that the program provided us. For all of us, especially our program team, BİRLİKTE also functioned as a kind of school where we learned by experiencing together. Based on this experience, we structured this feature of the program in a better way and launched our BİRLİKTE HUB, hosted by a digital sharing platform. BİRLİKTE HUB is essentially a meeting space that brings organizations together. First of all, it aims to facilitate all kinds of communication and sharing among program participants. In addition to this digital platform, we also organize various events to pave the way for organizations to jointly learn, co-produce and collaborate. In the coming weeks, we will introduce HUB to you in more detail and share the events we organize within the scope of HUB.
Stronger together with an international partner
In this implementation period, we also have a partner in our project. Our partner, "the Wheel," is an umbrella organization in Ireland that supports civil society organizations with a mission similar to STGM. They support us, particularly in international collaborations, sharing experiences, and networking activities. This partnership holds significant potential to bring together participant organizations with good practice examples and open new horizons for all of us, and it truly excites us. In the coming months, we will regularly inform you about the developments related to these activities planned for the second year of the program.
Parallel to the collaborations of the BİRLİKTE participant organizations, we have also started to come together regularly with peer organizations that have been implementing sub-grant programs for some time to share experiences, learn from each other, improve our practices, and work in better coordination. We are striving to build and facilitate this community as a learning community. We take this opportunity to thank all other implementing organizations that contribute to this community and share our commitment to facilitate this collaboration throughout the next period.
Since we started, BİRLİKTE has truly lived up to its name for us. Both our colleagues involved in the process and the organizations participating in the program have put in sincere efforts to do justice to this togetherness, and they continue to do so. I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of this process, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed. I hope that in the coming periods, our paths cross on various occasions, and we have opportunities to learn and experience together.
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