Although there has been some progress towards gender equality since the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing, most countries are not on track to achieve gender equality as laid out in the SDGs. Indeed, the UN estimates at current funding rates, it will take 300 years to achieve gender equality. This is despite evidence that shows that progress towards SDG5 and gender equality promotes achievement of all of the SDGs. In an effort to understand the funding gap and gender equality, this research project digs deeper into the link between women’s movement-building organizations and how they engage with the SDGs, in order to build the evidence base. To view and download the full report, press the button below.VIEW FULL REPORT
“I believe that it is crucial to invest in women's movements, especially in this very sensitive moment of our universal history - as there are political forces working publicly to limit, if not to erase - the level of achieved women's rights and freedoms. I believe it is more important than ever that we all work together - and that we jointly resist fascists and fundamentalists.”
Women’s movement-building organizations in this sample prioritized the issues of women’s empowerment, gender equality, ending gender-based violence, and health and reproductive rights and justice. Issues of peacebuilding, education, strengthening women's movements and migration and displacement also emerged as key areas of focus.
Over 50% of the organizations in the sample engage at the national, the local, and community level. Just over 12% focus at the global level and 18% at the regional level, while 8% of work is done in multiple regions.
Though the budgets of women’s movement-building organizations in this sample were sometimes small, the majority do still receive external funding. N=86
Organizations indicated they received mostly project funding in the last 1 to 2 years, indicating that long-term core funding was limited across the sample. The lack of long-term and core funding constrains flexible responses necessary for long-term social change to achieve gender equality and women's rights. N=74
Even with funding, the majority of organizations faced funding gaps. In fact, less than one quarter reported no funding gaps. In the face of reduced budgets, groups indicated that they were often faced with reducing staff, programs, and overhead to make ends meet. N= 122
Given the funding gaps faced by the majority of organizations, decisions had to be made where to make budget cuts. The respondents reported cuts across the spectrum including overhead, programs, and staff, often all three.
“The continuity of programs from small NGOs is often challenged by donors who may suddenly decide to pull out their funding. This can have drastic consequences.”
Changed social and cultural norms related to gender inequality and discriminations and strengthened social cohesion in communities
Strengthened knowledge and feminist analysis supporting equality in the public and policy space
Improved economic power and opportunities for women, including minority women
Expanded access to key services including education, quality healthcare, and reproductive and sexual health and rights
Increased the number of women in politics and in leadership positions
Improved environmental sustainability, stewardship, and/or agricultural practices
Strengthened coalitions and mobilized funding for movement-building for social and environmental justice, equality and nonviolence
Strengthened laws and policies promoting gender equality and ending GBV
Supported, more sustainable and inclusive peace processes
Ensuring that survivors of violence have safe spaces and access to a diverse range of empowering social support services is critical to creating the time and resources needed to recover emotionally, physically and psychologically. Multiple organizations worked on strengthening access and rights-based support services.
SafeLives, a nongovernmental organization based in the United Kingdom, has developed a model to drastically reduce the incidences of domestic abuse and protect women. The Safe Lives Idva-Marac model allows for quick identification of and response to the most severe domestic abuse. The 'Idva' is an Independent Domestic Violence and Abuse Advisor, who walks alongside the victim/survivor of abuse to help them achieve safety. The 'Marac' is a multi-agency, risk-assessment conference through which agencies are equipped with the ability and responsibility to safeguard someone who has experienced violence. The Idva-Marac model saves lives and saves money. In the UK, in 2018 and 2019, over 65,000 adults (95% women), were supported through this method and between them, they had over 85,000 children who were also at risk from serious abuse. In England and Wales, Maracs saw over 120,000 cases, which impacted more than 150,000 children during 2020-2021. In the same time frame Idvas opened 2,876 cases and closed 2,360 cases. Collaboration has been vital to this strategy. In 2020-2021 SafeLives worked closely with multiple frontline voluntary sector partners from around the UK and beyond, and with key statutory agencies such as the health service, housing, children's services, policing, and probation to ensure safety and prevent domestic violence.
Indigenous Women Rising, increased access to quality, rights-based sexual health education and resources for Native Americans. They developed a Midwifery and Doula Fund to address key gaps in quality care for Indigenous people that often occurs in a traditional hospital setting. Through the Fund, they provide culturally sensitive support to pregnant and Indigenous women in New Mexico and help them access quality care. Moreover, through their Abortion Fund, they have supported over 100 Native Americans with food and transportation assistance, increasing access to abortion and supporting women during this critical time.
Foundation Lara, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, opened a safe house to expand support services for victims of violence. The safe house provides special support measures in moments of acute violence, in the period of remediation of violence and conflict resolution within the family. However, the safe house is not just a place where survivors of violence are accommodated and given a roof over their heads, food, and hygiene supplies — victims are involved in a comprehensive process of recovery from the experience of violence that includes the provision of counseling and psychological support, medical, legal, social assistance, and support to contact with institutions. Since 2011, Foundation Lara has sheltered more than 400 women and children victims of violence, with approximately 18,000 days of stay.
The Women's Foundation (WFN), in Nepal, has saved the lives of a significant number of women, girls, and children who were victims of violence. WFN, with its programs and support services, was instrumental in saving thousands of lives of women, girls, and children by providing essential services such as counseling, schooling, health care, and running shelters. See our case study here for more information.
Other organizations are ensuring women and girls essential health and safety needs are being met as a fundamental precursor to ensuring their rights, dignity and full participation in society.
Positive Young Women Voices (PYWV), in Kenya has been supporting a forum of young girls and women living with HIV in the Dandora community. Through the distribution of food baskets from UNAIDS and ICW-KENYA, PYWV has identified adolescent girls and young women who are recipients of care to benefit from the food baskets as proper nutrition is a major component of Antiretroviral Therapy. During the distribution of the food baskets, PYWV was able to engage in conversations with the adolescent girls and young women on the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives as young women living with HIV. With this information, PYWV created My Tribe, a support forum that was formed as a result of gaps identified in the community. My Tribe allows the girls and young women to meet once a month and discuss the challenges they face, brainstorm, and identify solutions to be able to thrive in their day-to-day lives.
So They Can, working in East Africa, through the distribution of dignity packs, containing washable cloth sanitary pads, soap, instructions, and underwear, enable female students to attend school when they have their period. Before the distribution of dignity packs in the partner schools, So They Can recorded that almost 75% of girls missed an average of a week of school a month because of their period. Now that girls are equipped with the education and supplies needed, they no longer miss school days due to their period. Meeting basic health care needs and rights-based services to address social safety net gaps opens up a number of opportunities to fully participate in communities, such as education, leadership, work, etc.
women's movement-building organizations expanded access to key services including education, quality healthcare, and reproductive and sexual health from a rights-based approach.
An effective strategy for social norm change is leveraging role models to spread messages of equality and respect. Many movement-building organizations in the research engaged men and boys and leaders, including religious leaders, as critical allies in norm-change efforts.
Gendes AC is a Mexican civil society organization that works with men and boys to promote processes of reflection, intervention, research and advocacy from a gender perspective with an emphasis on masculinity and human rights, in order to promote and strengthen egalitarian relationships that contribute to social development. Gendes AC has worked with a number of government agencies to engage men in gender equality, with a focus towards the reform of public policy to eradicate gender violence and achieve substantive gender equality. In alliance with the Network Cómplices por la Igualdad (Men Engage), these issues have been brought to Mexican Congress.
The SASA! Together program in Uganda, facilitated by Raising Voices, has seen incredible success over two decades in eroding traditional beliefs on women and men’s roles in society, and has broken stigmas around gender-based violence. See the case study for more information.
In Haiti, Beyond Borders works to address the root causes of violence and the imbalance in power between women and men in Haitian society. They work throughout towns and villages in southeastern Haiti, with men and women activists, community and religious leaders, and other powerful groups for community change. In collaboration with the Global Women's Institute and their Haitian research partners, Beyond Borders has implemented the programs SASA!, Power to Girls and Safe and Capable in the Southeast to much success. This has yielded some new data on VAWG with disabilities that was previously not available for Haiti, and the results of the multi-year study was published in 2022.
ActionAid in Senegal has been working towards involving boys and men, as well as religious and local leaders, to provide information and promote gender equality in communities. ActionAid Senegal achieves these goals by increasing recognition of the impact of negative gender norms on the rights of girls and women including ensuring that communities address the social barriers that limit girls’ access to education and promoting women's economic empowerment through the elimination of gender norms that limit their rights to sustainable management of natural resources.
femLENS consolidated and amplified women’s voices from diverse backgrounds and defied stereotypes on who can engage in visual storytelling. Since 2015, femLENS ran, hosted, and launched a significant number of workshops (online and face-to-face), photo exhibits, social issue campaigns, articles, and published a magazine. All these initiatives showcase the visual stories of women from local communities. The organization helps women who participated in the workshops to have their work published locally or internationally. This allows the stories created by women-participants to be included in the visual history of our times. For more information, see our case study here.
Many women's rights movement organizations in this research engaged the justice sector and police officers, focusing their efforts on shifting awareness and norms in these spaces to support sustainable changes in norms and behaviors that respect women’s rights and allow them to live a life free from violence.
In India, Vasavya Mahila Mandali, initiated community driven intervention, with 21 police stations. In each station 10-15 volunteers, both women and men, work towards raising awareness in communities, schools and colleges and supporting the victims of GBV. In this initiative, approximately 3700 police officers were sensitized on gender and empathy. This work is being scaled up to 1258 police stations across the state of Andhra Pradesh and the initiative has contributed toward changing patriarchal attitudes and behaviors in police departments.
SafeLives implemented a culture change programme to strengthen police response to domestic abuse for the entire country of Scotland and across the UK. Specifically, SafeLives has delivered the programme to 18 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales and the entire group in Police Scotland, reaching nearly 20,000 officers and staff that police a nation with a population of millions. There are strong signs of positive impact, with better rates in Scotland for the arrest and prosecution of the new offenses of Coercive and Controlling Behaviour Act than have been achieved in England and Wales, where the program has only been adopted in some areas. Survivors were integral to the development of the program and regularly reviewed the materials used, as well as were invited to give feedback to Police Scotland regarding their performance.
Gender Stream in Ukraine, developed the project "Fight like a girl," with the support of the National Police and local authorities, to raise awareness, increase reporting, and improve responses to domestic violence. In the Dnipropetrovsk region, where Gender Stream works, only 1-3 calls regarding domestic violence were recorded per day. After the launch of the “Fight like a girl” project, the number of calls reporting domestic violence increased to 29 to 34 per day. Raising awareness among not only women, but also the police and local authorities, can help remove the barriers that prevent victims of violence from seeking assistance.
women's movement-building organizations challenged and changed social and cultural norms related to gender inequality and discriminatons based on gender, race, sexual orientation, class, etc. in diverse communities.
Strengthening links between the international policy making space, local and regional activists and women's movement-building organizations is essential for development conversations to be grounded and connected to local realities and locally led solutions. A number of organizations made connections between the local, national, regional organizations and international actors at the UN, bilaterals, or development banks.
Womankind Worldwide, has bolstered the global women’s movement in its pursuit of equality and brought activists into spheres of international policy influence. For example, they sponsored the inclusion of Ugandan and Zimbabwean partners in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2018. This fostered collaboration with the global women’s movement, supported advocacy work and networking with policymakers, governments, and UN bodies and strengthened connections with civil society representatives to contribute to a collaborative global movement towards gender equality. Womankind Worldwide women’s rights advocacy toolkit has been downloaded by seasoned and aspiring feminists across the world to build the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to advocate for the changes they want to see by helping address and challenge power imbalances to tackle the root causes of gender inequality.
Women for a Change (WFAC) in Cameroon, a feminist advocacy and awareness-raising organization is dedicated to building and strengthening intergenerational, cross border-feminist movements to be sustainable, strong and transformative. One of WFAC’s greatest achievements is the support of the establishment of GenEgaliteECCAS in the sub-region of Central African states, and Milfali, a youth network challenging gender norms. These regional networks bring individuals, civil society organizations and international organizations together to advocate for gender equality in Central Africa by engaging in cross-border solidarity visits and Africa Climate Week 2022, in preparation for COP27.
Giving Women organizes an annual conference which has become an important platform for convening UN organizations, civil society, NGOs, business, academia, and private individuals to inform, reflect and act on what is needed to improve the lives of girls and women globally. Recent topics have included food rights, fashion industry from the view point of production, supply chain and labor rights, and consumption and economic autonomy for women at the bottom of the pyramid. Giving Women also organizes panels, workshops, and networking events. In 2021, they organized 36 events with over 1,000 participants. The purpose of these events was to build awareness of the issues girls and women face, highlight some of the great organizations that are working to improve the lives of women and girls and convene all stakeholders for greater collaborations.
To support diverse movement-building addressing critical rights issues and entrenched gender inequalities, organizations have built diverse multi-sectoral partnerships and intersectional networks locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally. Some organizations strengthened networks and coalitions to build collective power, while others built stronger partnerships and coalitions across actors and agencies, such as governmental and nongovernmental actors.
Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila (ATRAHDOM), Guatemala, has educated and trained more than 15,000 women nationwide in labor rights. Through training workshops, they have coordinated numerous multi-sectoral alliances over a ten-year period. So far through this work, significant outcomes have occurred, including the legalization of two unions and a women’s cooperative has been established to promote economic justice.
Women's Fund Armenia (WFA), the only feminist fund in Armenia, has supported 150 feminist initiatives implemented by grassroot feminist groups and women's organizations across the country. WFA creates and strengthens joint cross-movement and intersectional projects that raise awareness and advocate for policy changes using a gender sensitive approach at the national level. To see more on their outcomes, visit this case study.
Women’s Learning Partnership Women’s Learning Partnership, based in the USA, strengthens ties across 20 autonomous women's rights organizations throughout the Global South around collective values and principles regarding women´s full participation and leadership in achieving democratic and equitable societies. The WLP network works globally to train local organizations and increase their capacities to fight against gender violence, increase the confidence of women and their courage to speak out and report on gender violence, to bring the issue of VAW into the mainstream and strengthen advocacy efforts, strategy building and action plans within and across organizations, networks and countries. A variety of diverse outcomes have been achieved through their partners around the world, from reforming family and national laws to be more equal, increasing access to resources and development of case studies through the ´Equality Starts in the Family´ toolkit.
Regionally, The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IMD) was co-founded by Just Associates (JASS) MesoAmerica in association with FCAM, AWID, Consortium Oaxaca, Collectiva Feminista en El Salvador and UDEFEGUA. JASS led coordination efforts of the regional alliance during the first eight years since its founding in 2009. Women human rights defenders (WHRD) have faced alarming increases of violence and homicides in the past decade, have a higher risk for violence in general, and states and duty bearers often act in impunity, disregarding growing rates of femicides, gender based violence and threats. The IMD has played a key role in documenting, collecting statistics, and advocating for greater justice for women and women human rights activists at risk, raising awareness in the public, and among governments, media and civil society spheres. The movement-building dimension of this work is powerful, bringing together over 150 women's human rights defenders and their organizations in all six countries in MesoAmerica. IMD supports WARD's safety and security needs, deepens solidarity ties and support across countries, increases regional power and influence towards greater national impact and raises awareness of the violence and necessities of defense and protection and support of WHRDs nationally and regionally.
At the national level, Ženski Centar Trebinje in Bosnia and Herzegovina initiated and signed an agreement of cooperation, creating an organized structure to combat domestic violence in the country and offer better support to women survivors of domestic violence. Stronger cooperation between police, government, civil society and the Ženski Centar was established, deepening women's trust in these institutions and increasing requests for support and help. There were 63 signatories including: the Center of Public Safety, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Center for Social Welfare, the Out-Patient Clinic, Municipal Authority, Office of the Public Prosecutor, media (including the TV departments in Trebinje), all primary and secondary schools, nurseries, kindergartens, and the Red Cross in all six Municipality in East Herzegovina.
Creating pots of funding that redirect money to grassroots organizations experiencing the front lines of injustice and inequalities at home is central to effective movement-building and achievement of gender equality. This ensures that local organizations that have experienced the problems are key actors in problem solving and developing solutions. This intermediary funding strategy is deployed by diverse women's funds who partner with grassroots women´s and feminist movement-building organizations. Other international NGOs and funders also serve as effective intermediaries, promoting and supporting women’s movement-building organizations with resources and through the incorporation of an intersectional feminist and gender lens.
Comic Relief UK has committed nearly £8 million into women's movements across South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK and shifted its learning emphasis on how and why funding women's movements matters.
A fund in Togo, mobilized financial resources for reinvestment in the initiatives of women's and young women's activists and organizations to advance women's, young women's and girl’s rights, economic empowerment and gender equality in Francophone countries.
Women’s Fund Georgia has promoted cross-movement collaboration between green and feminist movements for many years. WFG mobilizes resources from local and international donors to strengthen the women's rights' movement in Georgia. In 2021, WFG deployed 1,584,302 Georgian Lari in grant funding to diverse grassroots organizations, approximately US$569,960.
strengthened coalitions and mobilized funding for movement-building for justice, gender equality and nonviolence.
Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila (ATRAHDOM) in Guatemala, have trained more than 15,000 women nationwide in labor rights through workshops and multi-sector alliance-building over a 10-year period. The results have been significant with the formation of two unions, which are pioneers in the areas of domestic work and maquilas. In addition, ATRAHDOM organized a cooperative of women in textile maquilas to protect their economic and social rights. Coordination and alliance-building have been central strategies for achieving these successes; networks have been built with the municipal offices for women and the Presidential Secretary for women, the Ministry of Labor, women's organizations, unions and the small farmers’/rural movement.
WIAN, based in the UK, runs a free 7-month global mentorship programme to connect entry level women of diverse backgrounds with under 4 years of professional experience with seasoned professionals in international affairs. The mentors support their mentees to upskill and gain jobs in international affairs by advising them on their job search strategy, navigating the industry, conducting mock interviews, and doing CV and cover letter checks. The mentorship programme has helped 25% of entry level women gain jobs in 2020 and 2021, despite the context of the global pandemic.
In 2020, African Girls Empowerment Network, based in Nigeria, launched STEM GIRL 2 STEM WOMAN, an online mentoring program for girls. This gives the opportunity for girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to access one-on-one careers and educational support and counseling from women working in the fields of STEM. In the face of COVID-19 social distancing, a weekly interactive session was launched that brings together women working in the fields of STEM with Girls interested in STEM. The English version of the virtual space was launched in May 2020 to enable girls and women to discuss the benefits and challenges of girls accessing careers in STEM. The program supports girls in overcoming fears associated with studying STEM courses and access opportunities in the areas of admissions and scholarships to enable girls to choose a career in the fields of STEM. In May 2021, a Spanish version of the STEM Girls Virtual space for girls in Mexico, Latin America/Caribbean was launched.
Other organizations focused on income generation and support for women to start and own their own business, through cash transfer, lending, or microcredit programs. This line of work increased women´s asset base and wealth, supporting women's economic independence.
In Malawi, Ntchisi Evangelical Churches Consortium for Social Services (NECCOSS), focused on improving the economic conditions of survivors of gender based violence (GBV). 500 GBV survivors received cash to start small businesses and begin a village savings and loans program. 100 GBV survivors were trained in agribusiness and provided with farm inputs to practice commercial farming and collective marketing. This has led to significantly improved economic outcomes and opportunities for survivors of GBV.
Pastoral Women's Council (PWC) in Tanzania established a microcredit funding program, providing Maasai women with a chance to own their own capital for the first time in their lives. This created ripple effects in their home and community. See the case study for more details.
A women's rights organization in Mozambique implemented income generation and empowerment projects for rural women in the country. The project was funded by UN Women and resulted in diverse and positive outcomes, including increased production and incomes from their projects, and strengthened self-esteem due to income generation. Many women used the extra income to support their family's needs. Some women also started improving their nutrition diets, due to the nutrition education and short courses on alternative diets. Improving women’s economic status can have an impact across the SDGs. This outcome demonstrates that no poverty, SDG 1, can also impact other SDGs, like no hunger, SDG 2, and good health and well being, SDG 3.
Women and Land in Zimbabwe, an organization that works with rural women to facilitate the eradication of gender discrimination in access, ownership and control of land, natural resources and related opportunities for sustainable livelihoods of socially and economically disadvantaged and excluded women. Through assisting women to secure assets, this helps build wealth and empower women economically. See our case study here.
Badabon Sangho, a women’s rights and women-led group, working for lower-caste, Dalit, single mother, separated, widow, divorcee, religious minorities and girls in Bangladesh, strengthens village-based women groups, women’s federations and networks among other women rights organizations, to amplify members' voices as well as support their demands with feminist actions. In order to protect group members' land rights, they lead capacity building training to women leaders to exercise their ownership rights. In parallel, Badabon Sangho facilitates protest rallies and other advocacy activities such as press conferences and assemblies against racial discrimination, land grabbing, and land induced violence.
Women Pillar Alliance (WOPA), since 2017, has supported 354 widows in claiming their properties through linking them to pro bono lawyers, supporting with their case filling expenses, and accompanying them during case hearing. WOPA managed to deliver justice through lawsuits, engaged all stakeholders involved in defending women issues including government officials, and carried out multiple trainings for widowed women in rural areas to educate them on their constitutional rights and empower them to defend for these rights. Through helping widows recover land, WOPA ensures that widows obtain legal rights to their assets and therefore empowers them economically. See our case study here.
organizations Improved economic power, wealth and opportunities for women, including minority women.
Many organizations supported the implementation of laws to end domestic violence, VAWG, harmful practices and GBV to ensure criminalization in the penal code.
Ženski Centar Trebinje, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, lobbied for stronger laws protecting women that have experienced domestic violence. Specifically, they recommended legal amendments and lobbied on the law on protection from domestic violence in the Republic of Srpska. The amendment extended the possibility for women victims of domestic violence to stay in safe houses beyond the current limit of 3 months with possible extension to 6 months to one year, significantly improving women's access to safety. Through extending the possibility to remain in a safe house longer, victims of domestic violence have more time to get back on their feet, instead of returning to abusive situations due to a lack of safe alternatives.
In Colombia, Mujer, Denuncia y Muévete has been monitoring Law 1257 (2008), for the elimination of gender based violence, as well as pursuing legal rulings in favor of women to ensure the right to a voluntary termination of pregnancy, femicide, and trafficking for the purpose of exploitation. An organization formed by volunteer professionals, Mujer, Denuncia y Muevete promotes and advocates for the guarantee of human rights to women victims of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking through political, academic, and social advocacy. Despite greater awareness of femicide and VAWG, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased rates of VAWG and femicide in Latin America(50). Passing laws is different from enforcing laws or accessing judicial remedies; Mujer, Denuncia y Meuvete plays an important role in supporting and advocating for women to be able to exercise their human rights in Colombia.
In Angola, Plataforma Mulheres em Acção (PMA), has supported the approval of Law 13/24 on domestic violence and the regulation of the same law. Through promoting the integration and monitoring of gender issues in public policies in Angola, PMA lobbies decision makers, legislators and other state institutions and mobilizes and organizes women to bring about transformative changes.
Centro Fray Julián Garcés Derechos Humanos y Desarrollo Local in Mexico successfully advocated for the approval of the State Program against Human Trafficking in the state of Tlaxcala. The Fray Julián Center coordinated the collective efforts of organizations, community groups and academics to build the Civil and Academic Proposal of the State Program against Trafficking in Persons (2017-2018).
Other organizations made progress on moving forward entrenched socio-legal issues related to access to labor rights and equal wealth and ownership, such as access to equal inheritance, land rights, and economic autonomy.
For example, AwazCDS-Pakistan has contributed to the passage of laws, including amendments to the Hudood Ordinances (1979) through the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act (2006). This law improved the right to inheritance and a woman's ability to settle disputes in courts of law. These legal advancements are significant, supporting women's economic power, the right to representation and to bring claims on their own behalf without a male relative in Pakistan.
Association Nationale des Femmes Agricultrices Du Bénin (ANaF-Benin) took a leading role in advocating for and increasing women's right to land. This significant achievement enabled some women to recover their land which had been confiscated by men. Control of economic resources, such as land, is key to women’s economic empowerment and the elimination of structural gender inequalities. Legal systems can often deny a woman's right to secure tenure of land and/or it can be too costly for women to legally claim their rights. ANaF-Benin not only increased women’s land tenure, but through this empowered women economically. This work was possible thanks to technical and financial partners such as: UN WOMEN, FES, AWAC, ECLOSIO, AP-OSP, and COOPERATION SUISSE.
Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila -ATRAHDOM strengthened the legal framework in Guatemala and increased women's access to justice. They have handled approximately 300 cases of legal support in complaints to date, both in labor courts and the General Labor Inspectorate. ATRAHDOM developed and deployed a political advocacy strategy targeting the Congress of the Republic, to achieve the adoption of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189 in Guatemala, and to support a women's equality legislative agenda. They have also made international complaints to the OHCHR, with CEDAW, DESC and UPR reports, and have filed complaints with the ILO regarding the violation of the labor rights of working women in the country. Through supporting workers to engage at the international level, ATRAHDOM gave workers a voice in forums where they are typically excluded.
Another key area of significant contributions that women's rights organizations and movements have made include sexual freedom, pleasure, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Fundacion para Estudio e investigacion de la Mujer (FEIM), in Argentina, has fought since 2015 to legalize abortion in Argentina. On December 30, 2020 the law of legal and safe abortion was approved in Argentina, a victory for FEIM and the women’s movement. To read more about their work, see the case study here.
Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia, in Mexico, in coordination with other civil society organizations, legislative representatives, and feminist and women's rights movements, networks and organizations has made progress on laws for the legal interruption of pregnancy in several Mexican states and decriminalization in the State of Oaxaca; these advancements help reduce unsafe abortions and guarantee reproductive rights.
In 2020, Nala Feminist Collective, working across Africa, developed the Africa Young Women Beijing+25 Manifesto (B+25 Manifesto) in consultation with 1500 African youth from 44 countries with over 30 partners. This is considered a groundbreaking feminist political document that sets out critical issues of concern for young women of Africa and makes demands for addressing them. In 2021, a mobilization campaign led to collecting 10,360 signatures of B+25 Manifesto from over 105 countries. Nala Feminist Collective’s efforts, in collaboration with partners and youth activists, has succeeded to include 8 out of the 10 demands into Women, Peace & Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) Compact, as commitments of UN member states.
women’s movement-building organizations
Achieved stronger laws and policies promoting gender equality and ending GBV.
Many organizations focused on training government officials, health workers and media among others in gender analysis or gender related topics, such as GBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights to improve service delivery and health services for diverse populations.
AwazCDS-Pakistan has addressed sexual and reproductive health & rights (SRHR) in Pakistan through movement-building, creating an alliance of 50 women’s rights organizations which raise the voice for the rights of women, girls, the transgender community and people living with disabilities. In addition, 100 Parliamentarians were sensitized on SRHR and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) related issues and challenges. 100 mainstream media and social media activists were also trained and sensitized on related themes. Provincial and District level Advisory Panels were formed to suggest and follow up on pro-women and girls’ rights laws and policies.
CEHDAR, in Ghana, coordinated a survey of 10,000 midwives to summarize their demands and asks in an effort to make midwives more accessible and available locally, creating knowledge around the prenatal and maternity needs. CEHDAR seeks to motivate leaders, advocates, policy-makers and partners of health systems through excellence in capacity building, evidence-based research, advocacy, policy development and women’s health, to lead and sustain change for health improvements among populations.
The Forum for Women in Development (FWID), in Egypt, seeks to build an influential force in positive change in policies and legislation and to raise awareness of a culture of equality and human rights. The forum addresses discrimination and violence against women in all its forms and in all fields and by various means, including networking, building alliances, exchanging experiences, solidarity and partnership in cooperation with various concerned parties.
Other organizations focused on lifting up the voices and demands of feminists to contribute to a more relevant action plan for ending violence and improving women´s health in different spaces.
Las Vanders, working in Mexico and Honduras, has collaborated with a number of feminist organizations to make feminist voices heard in both civil society and at the state level. Las Vanders has participated in a wide range of public spaces, both in civil society and in governmental institutions, in order to talk about the issues of migrant women, women, LGBTQ+ people and children who find themselves in situations facing lethal violence. Las Vanders has spoken at forums of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the organization of the protests in Mexico City and Tegucigalpa, such as the #8M protests regarding missing women, as well as generated artistic processes to promote the issue in public spaces with performances such as, “Dónde están Las Migrantas?”
Red de Acceso al Aborto Seguro Argentina (REDAAS) increased availability and access to academic and scientific research and information on women's sexual health and right to an abortion. Several technical documents have been prepared. For example, the REDAAS Kit is intended for professionals to advocate in order to guarantee the exercise of the right to abortion for women, adolescents and girls in Argentina. The objective is to build better ethical, legal, clinical, and health lines of argumentations for the clarification of values, awareness, and training in the provision of safe and legal abortions
Some organizations created new knowledge, resources, indicators, and research that lent important gender dimensions to a wide variety of topics, such as environmental justice and multidimensional aspects of poverty and deprivation.
Women's Fund in Georgia (WFG), a women's fund supporting women's rights organizations and movements, built new knowledge and analysis around environmental justice to lay the groundwork for further national, community and legislative action. WFG, with the support of Mama Cash and Filia.die frauenstiftung, completed the "Situation Analysis and Recommendations on Environmental Justice and Women's Rights in Georgia" investigating whether different types of environmental burdens unduly affect the quality of life of Georgian women, and if so, what are the main economic, social and cultural reasons for this. The analysis also investigated if the Georgian legislative framework and national policies have been adequately addressing the gender dimensions of environmental justice and climate change and its disproportionate impact on women. Gender and climate change is an understudied intersection with significant livelihood and security implications.
International Women's Development Agency (IWDA) in Australia created the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) to track multi-dimensional aspects of poverty and deprivation using a transformative feminist lens, opening up new spaces for policy debate, resourcing and action on issues impacting the most marginalized community members. See the case study here.
Another central place where applying a gender lens yields critical results in local, state, and government budgets. A number of organizations made contributions to gender responsive budgeting practices, which helps to ensure women and other marginalized groups have appropriate governmental resources for central programs and services, such as gender based violence services, domestic and family violence services, sexual and reproductive heath services, etc.
Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia in Mexico is a pioneer in the analysis and preparation of public budgets with a gender equity perspective, and has consolidated a method for mainstreaming the gender perspective within both public and private institutions. The organization has created methodologies and models in order to advise, support and provide tools to women's organizations, legislators, and the government at its three levels (federal, state, and municipal), for the construction of budgets and policies with a gender perspective.
Foundation United Women Banja Luka, through continuous public advocacy activities, lobbied the People's Assembly of the Republika Srpska in 2013, which resulted in changes and amendments of the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence that recognize obligatory public budget planning for the safe houses for victims of domestic violence. Support is in the form of 70% from the entity public budget (Republika Srpska) and 30% from the public budgets of local communities. Since that period, safe houses from the Republika Srpska have received a continuous public budget to ensure survivors of violence have the necessary services available to them.
Women's movement-building organizationsStrengthened knowledge and feminist analysis in the public and policy space.
Ensuring that women have the skills, knowledge and confidence to lead is important for professional development and growth into a political or leadership position and/or career. In addition, ensuring that structurally within institutions, women have power and decision-making roles, is critical to allowing women to flourish and lead. Many organizations focused on training, skills-building and awareness-raising to support women in developing leadership skills, overall and in politics.
Women Support Center in Kyrgyzstan, in coordination with local NGOs, deployed a successful advocacy campaign which led to a 30% mandate for women's representation in local villages. The law was passed on August 8, 2019. More than 10,000 signatures were collected in support of the bill. The organization also supports rural women; in 2019 WSC trained more than 200 women providing them with education and strengthened leadership skills to be potential candidates for deputies of local village councils in the upcoming elections. Public institutions need to represent and respond to the needs of women and girls in order to advance gender equality; increased rates of women in leadership positions and through public representation is a key approach for achieving these goals.
In Bangladesh, Bonhishikha, runs a long-term program titled "Women Gaining Ground,” where they work with young women and women with disabilities to build their leadership skills. Bonhishikha seeks to drive transformative changes in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and increase women’s political participation, strengthen the alliances with the women’s movement, and enable greater political participation. As part of this program, and with the support of IWRAW, a consortium partner, Bonhishikha took part in global policy level discussions.
A number of organizations in Indonesia including KPuK (Koalisi Perempuan untuk Kepemimpinan - Women coalition for Leadership) and Ruang Mitra Perempuan (RUMPUN) - Place for Women Friendship in Indonesia, have supported and increased the number of women leaders at the community level through capacity building programmes.
WYDII in Indonesia supported women's political participation in the Eastern part of Indonesia and they work to ensure the representation of women is reflected, accommodated, and secured in elections processes. More than 500 women candidates trained by WYDII (more than 13%) have been elected at municipal, district, and province levels and more than 10%have engaged in political roles, either as party officials or other types of electoral offices, creating a significant shift in women´s power, representation, and leadership.
Womankind Worldwide has helped women get elected. Through support to partners in Nepal, Ghana, and Kenya, women’s representation in politics dramatically increased. From 2012 to 2015, Dalit women’s political party membership in Nepal increased from 299 to 2,112. In order to support over 150 elected women, leadership training was provided through a UK aid funded project. After elections in 2017, women now make up 34% of provincial assemblies and 33% of the federal Parliament in Nepal. In Ghana, while just over 4,600 women stood for local committee election in 2010, this number rose to 12,000 in 2015. Meanwhile in Kenya, our support contributed to a 121% increase in the number of women standing for 2013 elections. These efforts help women to participate fully and equally in public and political life and bring their unique experience to public debates and decisions.
Women’s Learning Partnership increased women's leadership and participation in community and politics with more than 300,000 women trained in over 50 countries. WLP strives for quantitative change in the number of women in formal leadership roles, and a qualitative change in the type of leadership that women exercise. In the fiscal year 2020, 50 former WLP training participants ran for formal leadership roles, such as elected office or other public service positions, and 13 were successfully elected or appointed.
Women Win developed a new feminist sports strategy in 2018, in collaboration with various actors from across the sports, women's rights, women's funds and sport for development sectors. One key element of the strategy has been to support the leadership development of young feminists in sport and to shift power and resources to them by establishing participatory grant-making funds. "We have to call out the huge influence of our partnerships with the women's funds and grassroots female leaders in formalizing and pushing forward our feminist sports strategy. We started using sports with women's funds such as FCAM and Semillas 7 or more years ago and we learned a LOT from their experiences on the ground."
women's movement-building organizations increased the number of women in politics and in leadership positions.
There is a need for feminist community development solutions to leave those most vulnerable to climate change, such as migrants, rural communities, or nomadic people in more sustainable places. Many women's rights organizations and social enterprises are innovating in this area with aquaculture, vertical farming, and sustainable fisheries.
In Bangladesh, Badabon Sangho, works with women fisher-folk who are not recognized by local authorities and therefore deprived of access to public safety net schemes. The fisher-folk groups, comprised of Dalit and Indigenous women, have organized and formed a fisher-folk association. The association is one of the key successes as now women fisher-folk have a platform to act and demand their rights. The association advocates to protect the water-bodies and livelihoods of the women fisher-folk from tourism companies that try to establish hotels and tourist spots. These changes could have detrimental environmental effects and impact their livelihoods.
In Zimbabwe, an NGO trained rural women and created an income generating project focused on agro-ecology and climate change awareness as a way of building women's economic base. This project brings together the twinned goals of climate action and women's economic empowerment.
Green Lane NGO in Armenia has strengthened rural women's economic power and opportunities. Through their programming, rural women in Armenia were able to access new knowledge about sustainable agricultural practices, which led to improved innovative farming techniques, established farmer cooperatives, reduced the collective environmental impact of farming and directly contributed to sustainable environmental stewardship. Green Lane’s initiatives such as the “Economic Empowerment of Women’s Groups,” “Green Village'' and “Green Training Center” have increased women’s knowledge and skills in sustainable agricultural techniques by training them on innovative sustainable farming practices. The organization’s initiatives have also helped women scale up their position in the value chain through organizing and consolidating the production lines of rural women’s produce. Not only did these projects empower women, advocacy on the practice of sustainable farming among rural women’s groups also helped ease the contribution to climate change brought on by the widespread practice of traditional/synthetic farming. Additionally, ten women's groups from various rural communities have been supporting the joint production of 18 commodities under this brand, and their network and reach is increasing.
Rain for the Sahel and Sahara, in partnership with the rural communities and nomadic peoples in Niger, have helped drill 24 wells and set up over 20 community gardens. The organization also helped in the installation of drip irrigation systems and two borehole wells with solar-powered submersible pumps. This enabled the provision of sustainable, clean, and drinkable water, and healthy foods to local communities. Community gardens also help women and community members earn income, supporting the economic development of the communities.
An organization in Cameroon worked with local authorities, religious leaders and women’s groups to reforest a region in the eastern part of the country by planting fruit trees. This group also helped to build water wells to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) standards, and strengthen the environmental stewardship of rural women.
Advocacy at government, corporate, and policy levels is indeed critical to protect our people, earth, and biodiversity. In addition, initiatives that infuse a gender lens into policy is an important area of work.
The Women’s Fund in Georgia (WFG) has brought in a gender equality lens into research, government advocacy, and daily lives through their work. WFG has built a 3-story building that serves as a safe space for feminists, green activists, and women’s groups to convene and organize, free of charge. This building is constructed using permaculture principles, making use of sustainable materials such as wood, straw bales, and clay. WFG also leads on advocacy work, raising awareness of how climate change affects women. They conducted a study and situation analysis on the effects of climate change on Georgian women, supported by Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM), Mama Cash, and BOTH Ends, which resulted in a collaboration with UNDP. WFG’s online podcast program on women and the environment has also led to working with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia to address climate and sustainability issues using a gender lens.
These are a few examples of the power of applying a gender lens and engaging communities and Indigenous people in building sustainable solutions for the future.
organizations improved environmental sustainability, stewardship, and/or agricultural practices
Creating and promoting sustainable and inclusive peace processes and ensuring women are at peacemaking tables with decision-making power is essential to countries building back post-conflict. Many organizations made contributions in this area of peacebuilding.
Hope Advocates Africa, based in Cameroon, has launched a “She builds peace” campaign to counter violent extremism in various communities and to highlight the importance of peace and a society void of violence. The campaign worked to increase awareness of what it means to be a woman-peacebuilder and many women felt more valued and appreciated after the campaign. One example, in the Maroua, the Mora and Ekange communities of Cameroon, 60 women peacebuilders met with ten civil society organizations, as well as traditional and religious leaders, to ensure that women-peacebuilders are part of the relevant decision-making processes.
Social Transformation and Empowerment (SOTE), in Kenya, since 2011, has been working in the highly volatile interfaith neighborhood of Eastleigh, a Nairobi suburb, largely populated by Somali Muslims. SOTE carried out activities to reduce the appeal of radicalisation, prevent, mitigate and resolve violent interfaith conflict, and provide psychosocial support.
Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres, in Colombia, is a feminist movement that works for the negotiated settlement of the armed conflict in Colombia. They have contributed to peacebuilding by participating in spaces of dialogue and coordinating to promote the peace agreement. Through national political action, participating in peace negotiations and making visible the impact of the war on the lives and bodies of women, they build communities free of violence in which justice, peace, equity, autonomy, freedom, and the recognition of otherness are fundamental principles.
Association of Women with Social Problems in Albania developed a National Action Plan for implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325, ensuring women's participation and representation in peacebuilding processes and protecting women and girls from war-related, gender-based violence. The organization established a coalition, composed of 31 civil society organizations, called 'Women, Peace and Security' to advocate around peace and security issues. They also led in developing the first National Action Plan to implement Resolution 1325 in Albania with the support of UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality.
Foundation Lara creates and coordinates the initiative "Peace with Women’s Face," which integrates a woman's perspective in the process of facing the past and peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and presents the women’s side of the story about the survival and overcoming the consequences of war. It illustrates the women that have led both the small and big fights for their rights and rights of others in the post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina and have contributed to rebuilding the war-torn society. This project is unique because it focuses on women and personal experience, as opposed to the general policy of supremacy of nation,collectivity over individuals and the marginalization of women’s experiences and accomplishments.
women’s movement-building organizations supported more sustainable and inclusive peace processes.
Women’s movement-building organizations use a multi-pronged approach to achieve their key wins. The majority are employing at least three strategies to accomplish their goals. The top strategies used appear below.
Women’s movement-building organizations are addressing and strategizing around significant challenges to make bold transformative changes in women's rights and gender equality.
“Creating partnerships rooted in long-term collaboration is crucial to enable projects that are sustainable and have long-term impacts. Designing and scaling a project usually takes between 3-5 years, which is longer-term than what many donors consider funding.”
Gender equality intersects and contributes to all of the SDGs. In the Key to Change sample, aside from SDG 5, the most frequently addressed SDGs were SDG 16, Peace Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities, SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals, SDG 1, No Poverty, and SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being.
The majority of women’s rights organizations find the SDGs relevant and useful for their work.
“The SDGs form an important part of our theory of change and strategic plan.”
Women’s movement-building organizations use the SDGs most frequently for advocacy work, program design and implementation, for communication purposes, monitoring, evaluation, and learning, as well as fundraising.
Native and Indigenous empowerment
Mainstreaming of the gender perspective in all actions and activities of the government, in advancing women's rights and human rights
Diverse genders and sexualities
Empowerment and feminist strategic leadership of human rights defenders and activists, mainly defenders of land, territory, and natural assets
Fighting for access to abortion as a human right
The involvement of men, both in public policy and in the work of civil society against gender violence and in favor of gender equality
Alliances and strategies for the women's movements
Strategic leadership of human rights and Indigenous rights activists mainly of land, territory, and natural assets
This research illustrates the importance of accelerating progress to achieve gender equality as outlined in the SDGs. In order to move the gender equality agenda forward and accelerate the path to achieve SDG 5 by 2030, much work lies ahead. The data clearly point to the need to invest in gender equality and SDG 5 and to invest boldly and significantly. Achieving SDG 5 unlocks the achievement of many other development goals, and should be invested in accordingly. Funding must flow more significantly to feminist and women´s rights organizations and movements. They are best positioned to develop the solutions to gender inequality because they are at the frontlines of experiencing and problem solving around these global, regional, national, and local problems. They do this work because it lies in their hearts and in their values and organizing principles and they continue to mobilize despite opposition, reversals, threats, and violence.
These are the changemakers that have been mobilizing for decades, having been learning and innovating, and will continue to do so. We know that funding civil society and feminist organizations and movements works and that comprehensive approaches to funding some of the most entrenched and gross human rights violations of our times require significant investments. When this work is fully funded, results are transformational. Taking the example of the historic 300 million euro investment into ending violence against women through the Spotlight Initiative which redirects a significant amount of capital to feminist and women´s rights organizations and movements to end violence against women and girls, Research estimates that through this work, the Spotlight Initiative could result in 21 million fewer women and girls experiencing violence by 2025, equivalent to the complete eradication of violence against women and girls in 18 out of 26 of its programme countries. Imagine how many lives are changed when this work is scaled up, to addressing VAWG but also central issues of importance such as equal political participation and leadership, economic equity, reproductive rights and health, etc. The lesson here, is that significant funding working across multiple dimensions and ensuring that civil society and feminist movements are at the center of implementation work results in impressive advancements. Women´s funds and networks, such as African Women´s Development Fund, Global Fund for Women, Women´s Funding Network, Urgent Action Fund, FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund, Mama Cash, Fos Feminista, and Prospera, to name a few, have been organizing around this premise for decades, identifying and deploying resources to the most innovative grassroots women´s rights ad feminist organizing and movements, because of the catalytic nature of this work and he resulting outcomes of gender equality and ripple effects across all SDGs.
Women’s movement-building organizations indicated that they require: