Meet some of our grantee partners*
When the land was stolen out from underneath five young Congolese women, Action Femme came to the rescue. Thanks to their relentless advocacy, all five women still have a plot of earth to call home. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, land rights are a hot button issue—especially for women in rural areas. Action Femme works with thousands of women who are struggling to stay on their land and grappling with the daily effects of climate change. The Equality Fund supports Action Femme to maintain a community space for women to share stories and strategies and to cultivate a homegrown movement of climate warriors.
Three decades of war and the constant threat of a Taliban take-over means that Women Human Rights Defenders and their families are at serious risk in Afghanistan. That’s why AWSDC provides 23 safehouses, legal services, economic support, and advocacy to over 10,000 women. AWSDC has even opened Kabul’s first ever women-run restaurant—entirely staffed by the residents of their shelters. The restaurant provides a harassment-free space and an opportunity to build skills and economic independence.
And Soppeku means, “Together for a change”—and it will truly take everyone to change the current situation for sex workers in Senegal’s city centers. While Senegal is one of the few countries to legalize sex work, day-to-day realities have forced sex workers underground. The brave lawyers, doctors, and nurses who care for this vulnerable group have also been forced underground, risking their own safety just by providing vital services. To advocate for sex workers’ rights, And Soppeku organizes training for sex workers to become paralegals. The Equality Fund supports their efforts to document human rights violations and advocate for change from within.
Domestic workers in Mali are the heartbeat of the household. At best, their work goes unnoticed. At worst, they are underpaid, overworked, and at great risk for sexual exploitation. ADDAD organizes domestic workers around the country to fight for a living wage, decent living conditions, and reasonable work hours. Their slogan, “we have rights, too,” is especially powerful, as it might be the first time that these workers, often young migrant women, have ever heard such a thing. A united voice of 800 and growing, these women demanded—and won—an increased minimum wage (now at $45CAD/month) and a six-day work week. Support from the Equality Fund will help them reach new members and fight for additional worker protections.
To be a woman living with a disability in Madagascar is to experience a “double discrimination.” As the women who launched AFHAM will tell you, it’s unpleasant (to say the least) to be thought of as a burden, if you are even thought of at all. Schools don’t accommodate. Employers don’t accommodate. In short, AFHAM has their work cut out for them. Luckily, they also have a secret weapon: one amazing music video. Called “Ohatranao Ihany (Like You),” AFHAM’s song features funky Malagasy rhythms and highlights women and girls with disabilities leading full and productive lives. For anyone who has ever said, “if I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution,” count AFHAM in.
Growing up in the DRC, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people have resettled in South Kivu due to conflict, Gisèle has seen it all. She’s travelled around the globe as a journalist and human rights defender with AFEM. Their regularly-scheduled radio programs advocate for gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights, women’s political participation and leadership, and ending gender-based violence. Mama Radio, AFEM’s feminist radio station, uses their radio waves to make waves in the community. In just one year, their audience grew from 50,000 to 1 million listeners!
High fives all around as the ball sails into the net. The crowd goes wild. The littlest girls cheer from the sidelines, still full of energy after their own match. It seems as if all of Bamako has turned up for the tournament. This is the “power of soccer,” as AMPJF says. It’s hard to feel anything other than powerful with a roaring crowd, the blood rushing through your ears, the wind in your face, and the ball connecting with your instep. In a country where girls still face high rates of violence and female genital mutilation, teaching girls to feel powerful is the goal (and teaching communities to respect women’s rights is the big win.) AMPJF has already organized 75 girls’ soccer teams around the country. The Equality Fund is one of their biggest fans.
When a teenager in Burundi feels the first flutters of her baby-to-be, her first thought isn’t about one day counting its tiny fingers and toes. Instead, it’s about counting down the days until she’s no longer welcome at school. Last year, Burundi’s Minister of Education officially banned teen moms from the classroom. This is just one of the many hurdles young single moms face. With AMC on their side, teen moms have access to a mobile clinic, a drop-in center, and resources to stay in school. AMC also works in local communities to provide sex education and to end the stigma toward single moms.
After the 2015 terrorist attacks in Bardo, three brave women of Tunisia’s non-violence movement decided to act fast and reclaim their rights peacefully and innovatively in the face of tragedy. Two days later, CALAM was born. The “artivist” members of CALAM opt for paint cans over picket signs, and use street art and digital campaigns to promote women’s rights despite repressive laws, religious fundamentalism, and turbulence after the region’s revolution. Sometimes painting a street landscape can revolutionize the feminist landscape.
Young women and girls in Niger felt left out of Sustainable Development Goals talks, even though they are the most affected by child marriage, violence against women, terrorism, and a lack of formal education. With the support of Cellule, more women and girls are speaking up and demanding their voices are heard. Through workshops on blogging, public speaking, social media, artistic expression, and entrepreneurship, Cellule strengthens the capacity of over 300 girls, growing a feminist movement from the ground up.
Youth around the globe are leading powerful movements for change. But young people in one of the world’s youngest countries—South Sudan—face a few extra hurdles. How do you grow a youth movement in a place where protests are illegal? Brazenly demanding women’s rights in a country ravaged by conflict, Crown The Woman has a few tricks up their sleeve: silent peace marches, a comic book curriculum, and quirky social media campaigns to address serious topics such as child marriage and violence against women. Crown’s impact has reached more than 6,000 students, 300 community members, 60 teachers, and 500 parents. A grant from the Equality Fund will continue this disruptive work.
Equifonía AC was founded in 2008 by a diverse group of women’s rights advocates. They evaluate institutional services available to survivors of sexual violence to ensure that access to health and justice is realized, with special focus on access to safe abortion, particularly for survivors of sexual violence.
National surveys in Mexico indicate that only 12% of survivors of sexual violence seeking medical care file a formal complaint. Furthermore, only 23% of filed cases of rape are actually taken to court.
Even though Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act did not pass on a technicality, violence against LBT individuals is on the rise (and harsher anti-homosexuality policies are in the works.) Ugandan lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) individuals often do not seek healthcare for fear of discrimination, homelessness, unemployment, or incarceration.
Fem Alliance (FEMA) creates safe spaces for LBT people who face discrimination and violence due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. FEMA’s three core areas include raising awareness within the LBT community, advocating to reform Ugandan HIV/AIDS policies, and building a safety net of strategic, multi-sector partnerships throughout the country. And, most immediately, in a country where LBT individuals have been lynched, tortured, and mobbed, FEMA practices safety in numbers. When all else fails, Jay, FEMA’s Executive Director says: “we go out and stay with people if they think they’re in danger. We’re always there.”
A grant from the Equality Fund ensures that FEMA will be there: helping people access healthcare, keeping each other safe, and uniting against discrimination.
According to some, there are 100,000 witches in Togo. Many of them are women and girls. Some identify as LGBTQ+. Shunned, disinherited, accused of witchcraft, the 100,000 people with HIV/AIDS in Togo are under siege. Worse still, they are dying. If only there were a magic wand to dispel harmful myths about HIV/AIDS. Only half of the people in Togo with the disease have access to life-saving drugs, women with HIV/AIDS are at greater risk for violence, and accurate information about treatment rarely reaches the local level. That’s why a group of women and girls with HIV/AIDS founded Femme Plus Togo. A grant from the Equality Fund ensures that critical information is translated into the Kabiyé and Èwe languages and that LGBTQ+ folks have a safe place to go for HIV/AIDS services.
“Indigenous women need to hear their own voices,” says Bouba, the founder of a grassroots group for Mbororo women. In a place where Boko Haram regularly uses girls in suicide bombings, Bouba has her work cut out for her. Mbororo girls are denied an education, forced to marry much older men, and taught that they don’t matter. Bouba’s idea—to create an Indigenous girl-led organization in this far-flung community—has taken off. She has already helped 1,200 girls escape child marriage, access mental health services, and learn to read and write.
In 2007, Congolese women gathered in Montreal to protest the widespread sexual violence in Democratic Republic of Congo. Shortly thereafter, a national fund based out of Kinsasha, Fonds pour les femmes Congolaises (The Fund for Congolese Women, FFC) was established. Since 2011, FFC has supported more than 80 women’s rights organizations on a variety of issues including sexual violence, women’s empowerment, and the participation of women in decision-making.
Presently, FFC is training women leaders in North Kivu on the use of social media and other communication technologies. Kivu has been marked by violence, kidnappings, ethnic conflicts, illegal detentions, and the trafficking of weapons in recent years. By training women leaders working with different grassroots organizations on communication technologies, FFC hopes to promote women’s rights and peace through greater collaboration and information-sharing.
The world relies on the DRC for the minerals that power cell phones, computers, and cars. But the incessant rainfall caused by climate change and the constant extraction of the land’s resources for tech are destroying the country. FFGRN is mobilizing women’s agency and leadership. Their strategies—advocacy, movement building, training, research and lobbying—take women from minefields to natural resource management.
All eyes were on Nepal during the 2015 earthquake that killed 9,000 people, razed communities, closed schools, and cut off remote areas from medical help. But who was watching out for those who, long before the earthquake, had fallen through the cracks? Despite being nearly 40% of Nepal’s population, Indigenous peoples have been all but erased from the constitution. And as for Indigenous women with disabilities—support was practically non-existent. Founded in the aftermath of the earthquake to support this triply invisible population, NIDWAN’s work demonstrates that, while earthquakes may crumble man-made structures, the power of women-built movements at the grassroots is truly groundbreaking
“Women are not leaders.” Ruth, a leader for disability rights in Bamenda, was tired of hearing those words. She founded NWAWWD to prove the world wrong. Violent conflict in the area has left women with disabilities hiding in forests and vulnerable to violence. NWAWWD advocates for the well-being and needs of these women. Ruth’s leadership has created a ripple effect in the region, and has expanded her small idea into a growing movement that spans 7 regions with over 50 members.
The shelter location has been compromised. The male relatives are coming. The police are with them. This was all the shelter worker needed to hear before springing to action. As quickly as possible, she moved the women from one underground shelter to another—all in a day’s work for the women of OWFI. Founded in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war, OWFI operates a network of secret women’s shelters across the country. They are a haven for women escaping honour killings, sex-trafficking, and abuse. OWFI has saved the lives of more than 500 women and girls so far. A grant from the Equality Fund will be a literal lifeline for the many others who are still in danger.
Within the last decade, the rural region surrounding Osukuru has been the hardest hit by unpredictable floods and periods of drought. Osukuru United Women Network is led by rural women farmers that implement innovative farming practices, agroforestry techniques, and strategies to launch green businesses that scale opportunities to promote women’s economic independence. They even run a pre-school, giving new meaning to the idea of planting seeds for Uganda’s future.
It’s no secret that girls in Kenya are natural leaders. Resource Center for Women and Girls (RCWG) in Machakos knows this first hand. They run unique mentoring camps for girls and young women from rural Kenya to equip them with power and resources they need to be agents of change. In addition to these camps, RCWG keeps the girls engaged through a series of mentoring and peer-networking initiatives, run by alumni of the Girls’ Camps themselves.
By supporting smart, ambitious, and brave girls, RCWG seeks to shift cycles of power to end violence against women and girls and promote sexual reproductive health rights, socio-economic resilience and the right to safe environments free from violence. Their model works – in fact, they have 250 girls (and counting) to prove it. Talk about girl power.
Nidhi Goyal is the funniest stand-up comedian in Mumbai. And not only is she funny, she's funny for good. A visually impaired women's rights advocate, Nidhi uses comedy to change hearts, minds, policies and practices. The Equality Fund (formerly The MATCH International Women’s Fund) supported Nidhi to pilot and create a mobile “matchmaking” app that connects women with disabilities to volunteer caregivers. Nidhi uses her humour and brilliance to challenge prevalent notions around disability, gender and sexuality. That's something to smile about.
Since 2014, ISIS has killed or kidnapped more than 10,000 Yazidi men, women, and children in a genocide that needs decisive action by the international community. Mothers have been separated from their children. Women were sold as slaves, and many remain captive. Communities have been broken. One of the Equality Fund’s newest partners documents and archives the stories of unspeakable violence endured by Yazidi women and girls. The purpose is threefold: to highlight the experiences of women survivors of sexual violence and the scale of the crimes committed against the Yazidi people, to bring the perpetrators to justice, possibly through action by the International Criminal Court; and to fight tirelessly on behalf of the Yazidi people still in danger.
Resources—especially for feminist LGBTQ+ led organizations—are deeply scarce in Francophone West Africa. WIFC works in formal and informal spaces providing legal, health, and economic support to LGBTQ+ youth survivors of violence. WIFC has witnessed the daily threats that Women Human Rights Defenders face to their safety firsthand. As an emerging organization, they have inspired hard-to-reach communities to report assaults and violence, which WIFC documents for strategic research advocacy.