Deepening Our Gender Equity Learning & Leadership  

By Josie Ramos, Director of Learning at Rise Up

Josie Ramos, Rise Up’s Director of Learning, facilitating a session at our Brazil Leadership & Advocacy Accelerator training, February 2023.

At Rise Up, we have always had a culture of learning and adaptation—it is at the heart of our work around the world. We’ve invested in external evaluations approximately every two years to measure our impacts and make sure our services are effective and benefitting Rise Up Leaders. 

However, with more than 12 years of experience, it was time to invest in a longer-term learning plan so that Rise Up could more systematically learn from and with leaders about how we can better leverage the strengths in our strategy, create new knowledge about our sector, and share this knowledge with other gender equity organizations, funders, and people who care deeply about gender justice. 

This Learning Journey is a process of self-discovery–to highlight what we are doing well, how we can improve in ways that we operate as an organization, and how we can better support local leaders to make the world a more just and equitable place.

As the Director of Learning, my role is to guide our full team as we design and facilitate our Learning Journey based on key questions, like “What does it take to scale our hands-on model?” and “How can we better measure impacts in gender equity when they are so gradual and nonlinear?” I also dedicate a lot of time to designing the curriculum and learning programs for Rise Up Leaders, leading the evaluation of the effectiveness of our interventions, and supporting an internal culture of continuous learning.

In 2022, we partnered with Dalberg Advisors as the first phase of the Learning Journey to conduct an external evaluation of Rise Up’s work from 2017-2022 by completing focus groups, surveys, and interviews with 220+ of our global network of leaders. This evaluation helped us look back, take stock of our work, and learn more about leaders and our funding partners.

The evaluation revealed that our combination of high-quality bundled services (tailored training, grant funding, and one-on-one technical assistance) has a game-changing impact on Rise Up Leaders. Additionally, leaders surveyed said mid-size recurring grants ($10-20K per year) can make a significant difference in their ability to drive policy and norms change for gender equity and justice, as advocacy work can take years. These findings give us an opportunity to highlight local leaders’ needs and provide new data to more effectively partner with funders and advocate for their commitment to multi-year, flexible funding to support Rise Up Leaders and their organizations creating meaningful, lasting change. 

I’m looking forward to implementing and honing the recommendations that leaders made in the Dalberg-led evaluation and adapting the evaluation survey we used for yearly implementation. This intensive and intentional learning is a new muscle for Rise Up and I’m so happy to help us strengthen it. We will share more as the journey continues.