The leadership and staff of StreetNet International came together in Accra, Ghana, for a series of meetings that brought together our leaders and team from across the world.
From August 15th to August 20th, meetings of the Executive Committee and International Council took place, as well as evaluation exercises facilitated by Organizational Development practitioner Davine Thaw. After a week of discussions, reflection and learning, we at StreetNet as a whole are more aware, committed and motivated to accomplish our mission!
What is the SNI International Council Meeting and its Executive Committee?
As a membership-based, worker-led organization, the International Council is one of the main governing bodies of StreetNet. It is composed of 15 members, of which at least +50% must be women. Its members are elected by the supreme governing body of StreetNet, the International Congress.The International Council meets annually to review the activities, finances and plans of StreetNet, as well as to discuss any issues its members seek to bring to the attention of other leaders.
Within the International Council, there is the Executive Committee, which is composed by the International President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer, as well as by two Member-Auditors. The Executive Committee meets quarterly and also reports to the International Council.
“Over the years, we can see the improvement in the International Council” says International President, Lorraine Sibanda, who has been a Chair of the Council since 2016. “We have seen the growth of women’s voices. They are powerful and strong, they speak out and shape the decisions of StreetNet. It is a vibrant Council, nobody is dormant. I am very happy about that”.
An overview of the meeting
This year’s International Council meeting took place on August 16th. The opening ceremony featured the participation of Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, General Secretary of Ghana Trade Union Congress, who gave a warm welcome to all International Council members and SNI staff.
Sister Deborah Freeman, a General Secretary of StreetNet Affiliate from Ghana – UNIWA welcomed all and noted that it is a big honor and pleasure to them to host such an international and serious Meeting.
After, Executive Committee Secretary Jamaladdin Ismayilov presented their report, which included important decisions regarding revision of the membership fees policy. This was followed by the presentation of the financial report, as well as the report of member-auditors.
Maíra Vannuchi, Organizer for the Americas, Strategist and Education Developer, then presented the global annual affiliates report, featuring an overview and analysis of findings and trends across StreetNet affiliates. Each Regional Organizer was then asked to share updates about their regions, including outcomes of the Regional Meetings that took place in Senegal and Tanzania, and Vice-President Alberto Santana shared the conclusions of the Regional Meeting in the Americas region. The Council Members then expressed their comments and suggestions regarding the work of organizers.
Communication and Media Manager Margarida Teixeira then shared the media engagement report, and Council members provided feedback as well as suggestions for StreetNet to keep improving its communication work.
This exchange was followed by the Workers’ Education Plan & Report, presented by the member of the Workers’ Education Sub-Committee – Treasurer Annie Diouf.
The International Coordinator Oksana Abboud then shared her report, with a series of recommendations which were adopted by the Council members.
Finally, the International Council members discussed the location of the upcoming 7th International Congress. Members voted for Rwanda, where SNI affiliate SYTRIECI is based and will host the next StreetNet International Congress in 2023.
Developing SNI as a global organization
On August 17th and 18th, International Council members and staff came together once more to continue the meeting, but this time they engaged in a series of evaluation exercises, debates and reflections facilitated by expert Davine Thaw. Among many other topics, the Council members had an opportunity to discuss governance, administration, advocacy, and leadership.
“This International Council meeting of 2022 was very special, excepcional useful and very successful, because we also brought new elements to our discussion, which are monitoring, evaluation and learning processes,” explains International Coordinator, Oksana Abboud. “It is very important for all of us, including the leadership of StreetNet and operational team, to get together to discuss, evaluate, measure and monitor our achievements and progress, as well as to reflect on what has been done or not, and what are the reasons, so that we can build a strategy towards new achievements for informal traders’ and workers’ rights.”
Together, Council members and staff identified key priorities for StreetNet to focus on for the next few years and developed plans to invest in those priorities, which included advocacy, learning and evaluation, communication and safety and security.
A stronger team with a clear plan of action
Finally, on August 19th and 20th, the SNI team came together to assess their work based on the comments by the International Council and further develop and detail the plans put forward. The sessions were also facilitated by Davine Thaw and they represented a unique opportunity for the whole team to be together and actively reflect and learn from each other and from the comments of SNI leadership. It was also one the first time for many members of the staff to meet each other in person.
A warm welcome and hospitality in Ghana by our affiliate UNIWA
All these meetings were planned with the active involvement and support of our Ghana affiliate UNIWA, led by Deborah Freeman. Besides assisting Ghana-based organizer Evelyn Benjamin-Sampson with planning and logistics, UNIWA and Sister Deborah took some guests to experience eating at an informal restaurant in Labadi Beach, organized a local market visit and presented some of their local members to StreetNet’s staff and leaders. On August 16th, a cultural evening was also organized, with live music and excellent Ghanian food.
On August 19th, the International President Lorraine Sibanda, Vice-President Alberto Santana as well as Regional Focal Point representative Herminio Guevara visited UNIWA’s offices in Accra and had a pleasant exchange.
We are grateful for all the work and support of our comrades in Ghana and for the overall outcome of the International Council meeting.
We look forward to the 7th International Congress of StreetNet, which will be held in Rwanda in 2023, and where International Council positions will once again be up for elections, strengthening the internal democracy and power-sharing of StreetNet International.
See the video about our International Council meeting in Accra: