SIHA’s vision has always been collective – in order to build a world in which all women and girls in the Horn of Africa have the right to live in a peaceful, just environment where they are able to exercise their equal rights as human beings, bringing women’s voices together through the network is crucial. SIHA continues to see growth in membership. SIHA has also seen diversification among its membership, with newer members coming from cooperatives, associations, umbrella organizations, and youth movements, in addition to SIHA’s more traditional membership of community-based organizations. Members see SIHA as their microphone, a way to amplify their voices. Membership retention is strong, and members have access to women in marginalized communities in dire need of support, which enhances SIHA’s grassroots legitimacy. Yet working as a network has its challenges. Civil society organizations in the Horn tend to be polarized, frequently divided, and can be culturally traditional in their mind-sets and approaches. Communication and solidarity across the wide range of members is not easy and SIHA’s growth in membership in unmatched by financial and human resources.
In order to retain and maximize SIHA’s ability to bring women’s voices together across the Horn, investments in strong communication between the secretariat and country focal points, between different countries, and between members and SIHA staff. SIHA will focus particularly on strengthening internal communication, which will have a ripple effect for SIHA members. In order to enable improved communication, SIHA intends to take advantage of adaptable technology that works in each country rather than relying only on phone and email. SIHA will maintain regional activities and secure resources for annual face-to-face time for coordination purposes. In response to the diversification of membership, SIHA aims to adapt its network approach to respond to the needs of new forms of civil society, such as youth associations, women’s cooperatives, survivor associations, and voluntary organizations, reflecting its ambition to move from the centre to the margins.