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This article draws on our experience of implementing RootsLab, a feminist programme piloted in Lebanon by Oxfam, Global Fund for Women, FRIDA|Young Feminist Fund, and Young Foundation. It works with young grassroots activists, supporting feminist movement building. Here, we reflect critically on RootsLab, and its place and role in the wider development system. RootsLab offers a unique perspective on navigating challenges and capturing learning, to demystify feminist practices and make an effective case for a transformed ecosystem that is conducive to sustainable feminist change. Feminist principles, approaches, and tools aim to challenge power imbalances embedded in our programmes and are intentionally political and transformative. However, they are often criticised for being idealistic, with unattainable goals. It is important to step away from both romanticisation and paralysing criticism – which is often rooted in patriarchal thinking. And it remains essential to work towards that ideal. But, given the restrictive realities of the current development ecosystem, how do we then translate feminist values into all aspects of our programme?

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