Global Fund for Women Assesses Needs of Women in North Africa and Middle East

Eight-country visit to learn more about pressing issues facing women in the region

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A multinational delegation of Board, staff and donors of the Global Fund for Women, the leading philanthropic foundation exclusively supporting women's rights worldwide, is visiting urban and rural women's groups in eight countries in North Africa and the Middle East to learn about the most pressing issues they face.

Board and staff members representing advocate groups from the US, Afghanistan, India, South Africa, Ukraine and other countries will meet with their counterparts in the Middle East and North Africa to examine the pressing women's rights issues there. This visit will culminate in the bi-annual meeting of the Global Fund Board in Cairo from May 3 to May 8 to introduce a strategy to expand grantmaking throughout the region. Women in this region face multiple challenges that are intricately connected to the geo-political and cultural realities that have fueled poverty, conflict and gender discrimination.

It is estimated that in Turkey 50% of women are survivors of violence.
In Lebanon, voting is compulsory for all males 21 years and older, but women must have an elementary school education to vote.
In Palestine, women suffer persecution and torture at checkpoints, in jails, in their homes and on the street by Israeli soldiers and settlers. In 2003, 47 women were forced to deliver their babies in the dirt at checkpoints; seven were stillborn.
Honor killings are common in mostly rural areas in countries like Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
The delegation will split into five teams to visit Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Turkey, Palestine and Israel. They will meet with urban and rural secular women's groups as well as women's organizations that work within their faith to change customs and laws that oppress women. Participants will come together in Egypt to explore burning issues in the Egyptian women's movement and hear from representatives from Tunisia and Algeria.

Since its inception, the Global Fund has awarded over $2.5 million to women's organizations in 14 countries throughout the region to overcome the obstacles that prevent their full development. The results of the Global Fund's work has been manifold: for example, Moroccan women, including Global Fund grantees Democratic Association of Moroccan Women and Democratic League for Women's Rights, organized and ultimately got passed a landmark law in 2004, which outlaws polygamy; made divorce the right of both men and women; and ensured that women no longer need a guardian to preside over their marriage.

Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, an inspired, innovative leader recognized worldwide, will be available for interview. Also available for interview will be Jacqueline Pitanguy, Chair, Global Fund for Women and Co-Founder and Director, Citizenship, Studies, Information & Action, Brazil, a leading international advocate for women's rights and reproductive health; Abigail Disney, daughter of Roy E. Disney, and a donor to the Global Fund, who operates the Daphne Foundation, which funds programs that confront the causes and consequences of poverty in the five boroughs of New York City; Iman Bibars, Chair, The Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW), Egypt, which is hosting the international delegation in Cairo; and Amina Mama, Chair-Elect, Global Fund for Women and Chair in Gender Studies at the African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

About the Global Fund for Women
The Global Fund for Women is the largest foundation in the world that focuses exclusively on advancing women's rights internationally. The Global Fund for Women envisions a just and democratic world where women and men participate equally in all aspects of society. Grants made by the Global Fund expand the choices available to women and girls, securing their efforts to prevent violence, increase girls' access to education, and build economic independence. Since 1987, the Global Fund has awarded more than $40 million to seed, strengthen and link more than 2,700 groups in 161 countries. More information is available in six languages at


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