SIHA’s vision has always been collective, because we know that bringing women’s voices together through a collaborative network is crucial in order to transform the Greater Horn of Africa region into an environment characterized by peace and justice, where all women and girls exercise their equal rights as human beings. As its membership continues to grow, SIHA has seen an increase in the 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 connection to the grassroots, enabling the organization to follow the priorities of the grassroots in all areas of work. Yet working as a network has its challenges. Civil society organizations in the Greater Horn region tend to be polarized, frequently divided, and can be culturally traditional in their mindsets and approaches. Communication and solidarity across the wide range of members is not easy and SIHA continues to struggle to ensure that the growth of our y financial and human resources keeps pace with the rapid growth of our membership.
In order to retain and maximize SIHA’s ability to bring women’s voices together across the region, we are investing 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 leverages regional activities along with annual face-to-face time to build on cohesion and coordination. 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.