Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Awareness for You, organized a 300-person demonstration of Palestinians and Israelis who oppose violence and want to live together in peace.
July 22, 2014: As we watch the drastic escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel, Global Fund for Women calls on the Israeli government, Hamas, and their respective allies to stop: stop the rockets, stop the missiles, and stop the carnage now.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict does not lend itself to easy solutions or simple analysis. The international community, including the United States, is deeply implicated in the failure to address the conflict. This latest chapter builds on an increasingly asymmetrical and unequal conflict between the government of Israel and the elected government of Gaza. Today, the people of Gaza are trapped inside a no-man's land that has neither the status of an independent state, nor the recognition of the world community.
We call upon the United Nations and political leaders in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, to demand an immediate end to hostilities, with no preconditions. Precious lives - both Israeli and Palestinian - are at stake.
Global Fund for Women knows from 25 years of experience that women and children suffer most from military conflict. As the backbone of their communities, women around the world still bear primary responsibility for feeding and caring for the family and tending to the sick. Performing such tasks under conditions of war can be as dangerous as being a soldier on the front lines.
Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Al Zahraa Society in Gaza writes: “You can hear the kids' screaming everywhere because of the airstrikes, and as usual the civilians pay the price.”
Global Fund for Women believes that strong women’s and civil society organizations are critical to decreasing the violence. We therefore support both Israeli and Palestinian women's rights organizations inside Israel and Palestine - both Gaza and the West Bank. We are one of the few organizations that actively provide funds (over $1 million since 1989), and support for women working for peaceful change in this region.
Despite of the horrific violence, women and men are keeping their families and communities together. Awareness for You organized a 300-person demonstration of Palestinians and Israelis in Wadi Ara who oppose violence and want to live together in peace. When feminists in Haifa refused to be silent, they raised their voices via a photo campaign on Facebook.
Four Global Fund grantee partners (Mada Al-Carmel - Arab Center for Applied Social Research, Kayan Feminist Organization, AlZahraa Organization for the Advancement of Women, AlQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society) organized with the Palestinian Civil Society to “call for an immediate end to hostilities against the Palestinian civilian population of Gaza, and for thorough, independent and genuine investigations to be launched into all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
These activists are brave and determined, but their funding is decreasing as political instability increases. They need immediate support, including money and solidarity, from the world community.
“Truth be told, our spirits are on the verge of breaking as we witness this wave of violence and terror but we are determined to continue our work,” said Danya Cohen
of Awareness for You and MachsomWatch
Women's Fund for Human Rights.
UPDATE: Mu Sochua was released from prison on July 22, 2014 on conditional bail along with her 6 colleagues. Thank you for standing in solidarity with these fearless activists, greeted by jubilant crowds of supporters outside of Prey Sar Prison in Cambodia. In a note written the day before she was released, Mu Sochua wrote words that ring true for all human rights defenders: “A dream will make us fight to see it come true. An expectation will lead to passivity and probably to disappointment.”
Global Fund for Women calls for the immediate release of Member of Parliament-elect Mu Sochua and six of her colleagues in Cambodia where they were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on July 15th, for charges of insurrection, following a clash between district security guards and protestors. Since her arrest she has not been allowed to see anyone, other than her lawyer, and her colleagues have similarly been denied access to any visitors. Watch video footage depicting the arrest.
Commenting today, Global Fund for Women president and chief executive officer, Musimbi Kanyoro, said “Sochua, a former Global Fund for Women Board Member, has been instrumental as a leader in creating opportunities for women to participate in political spheres as elected representatives, civic champions and community activists. She is a woman of immense courage and conviction and she has a global network of supporters actively working to secure her freedom. We appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen to order the immediate release of Mu Sochua and to reassure the global community of his commitment to the right of citizens to speak out in Cambodia without fear of detention.”
Mu Sochua is the former Minister of Women's Affairs in Cambodia and in 2005, she was one of the 1,0000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work against sex trafficking of women in Cambodia and neighboring Thailand.
Sochua has worked at the grassroots and policy levels on gender-based violence, freedom of the media, trafficking, labor rights, and women's civic and political participation for many years and she was an official advisor to the Global Fund for Women for over a decade. She was one of seven remarkable women from around the world whose life and contribution was honored in a documentary play called Seven produced by Global Fund for Women grantee, Vital Voices and in 2010 she was the recipient of the People's Choice Award instituted by Global Exchange for her work in serving under-represented populations and for giving them voice through her program "Women's Voices, Women's Choices".
Sochua returned to Cambodia in 1989 after 18 years in exile, and she has worked as an advocate for human rights, working to stop domestic violence, HIV/AIDS and human trafficking and to advocate for worker rights and democratic processes. She formed the first organization for women, called Khemara (Khmer: ខេមរា). and she joined the Funcinpec political party, winning a national assembly seat representing Battambang in 1998. Soon afterwards, she was asked to take over the Ministry of Women's and Veterans' Affairs, one of only two women in the cabinet. In July 2004 she stepped down from her role as a Minister, citing corruption as a major obstacle to her work. Almost immediately, she transferred her allegiance to the Sam Rainsy party, where she became secretary general before becoming Member of Parliament-elect.
We call on Ambassador Hem Heng, and his Government to immediately release Mu Sochua and her colleagues and to actively demonstrate their commitment to democracy as they build a new foundation for their country’s future based on justice, respect and due process. Please join us in calling for Mu Sochua’s immediate release by signing this petition and by sending letters of support to Ambassador Hem Heng:
His Excellency Mr. Hem Heng
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Royal Embassy of Cambodia
4530 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011
Since 1987, the Global Fund for Women (GFW) has been a leader in advancing women’s human rights around the world. It is a truly global, publicly supported, women’s fund.
In the early 1980s few foundations, governments, or multilateral agencies were willing to invest directly in locally led, community-based, overseas women’s rights organizations. Those that did made contributions to large international NGOs that administered programs where women were seen only as beneficiaries, not leaders of change. GFW’s founders made a conscious decision to listen and learn from women working in their own communities. They recognized that women were best positioned to identify and implement solutions to the challenges affecting them and their communities, and they understood the biggest barrier to addressing those challenges: little or no access to money.
GFW then started its work providing women with the financial resources needed to catalyze or advance their vision for change.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, we have granted more than $110 million to groups working across 175
countries in five regions—Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, GFW engaged researchers from Stanford University to assess the impact of its first 25 years. The assessment confirmed our belief that the groups receiving support have made a significant difference in the lives of women and girls, including securing new laws in 25 countries that criminalize gender-based violence and give protection to more than one billion women and girls.
To effect real change on the most pressing issues facing women and girls, GFW supports women’s
efforts to end violence against women, secure sexual and reproductive rights and health, and build women’s economic and political empowerment. In addition, we support organizations that use education, technology, and leadership to achieve progress and momentum within those three impact areas.
It is challenging to only be able to fund a quarter of the 2,000 worthy requests we receive each year. We genuinely rely on our grantmaking philosophy: to provide flexible funding, select groups using a rights-based approach to their work, create trusting relationships with our grant partners, and support greater connection and engagement between women’s groups to strengthen women’s movements. At the core of this philosophy is our founding president, Anne Firth Murray’s, belief that “The way we do our work is more important than what we do.”
Our organization has also adopted an investment policy that is directly in line with the philosophy of our work and our organizational values. To prevent a conflict with these values, we seek to invest in companies whose policies we support and avoid investment in companies whose behavior we consider reprehensible.
We avoid companies that are deriving revenue from products that we see as harmful to the rights of women and girls, in particular their health and freedom from violence. Our secondary avoidance screen enables us to avoid investing in companies that have business practices that we do not believe uphold the dignity and rights of female workers and consumers.
Our supportive investment screens include investing in alternative energy and companies that believe in a high quality of products and services, research, being of service to the economically disadvantaged, and fostering a sense of community and respect in the workplace. Our proactive social investment includes shareholder activism on issues that reflect our values.
GFW celebrates and upholds giving as an act of social change because our donors participate as women’s rights activists within the wider global movement for freedom, nondiscrimination, security, equality, and justice for women. This approach acknowledges that each one of us has a unique, significant role to play in bringing about a more compassionate, just, and healthy world.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2014 Issue of Trillium Asset Management's Investing for a Better World.
By Musimbi Kanyoro, CEO of Global Fund for Women, and Serra Sippel, president of Center for Health and Gender Equity.
This month saw U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in London with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and other world leaders at the largest ever summit on rape in war. We commend the United States, United Kingdom, and others for playing a leadership role in these global efforts to address and prevent rape in conflict. Rape has become an all-too-common weapon of war aimed to control, intimidate, and humiliate millions of women and girls.
But the conversation and action need to go further. For far too long, the international dialogue has stopped at prevention. Leaders have failed to discuss how to respond to the aftermath of rape. They have failed to address the healthcare needs of survivors. And they have failed to make sure women and girls get the necessary care and support to rebuild their lives.
A little-known, 41-year-old U.S. law is a key reason for these continued and systemic failures. It has proven an enduring barrier to comprehensive post-rape care for women, including access to counseling, support, and safe abortion.
The Legacy of Jesse Helms
The Helms amendment restricts the use of U.S. aid for abortions “as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions,” but does not prohibit such funding in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. However, a lack of clarity around the amendment has resulted in its misapplication as a complete ban on funding abortion.
As a result, most organizations that rely on U.S. aid too often turn their backs when pregnant rape survivors ask for help. Those health providers are afraid to lose their funding and therefore avoid abortion services and referrals altogether.
This must end. The long-overdue global conversation about rape in conflict must include the pressing need for women and girls to access comprehensive post-rape care. This was a conversation the world needed decades ago, with wars being waged against women’s bodies in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, and Burma. It was needed in 2011 when conflict broke out in Libya. It is needed more than ever today.
For every day of inaction, horrific wars worldwide rage on. Nearly 50 women and girls are raped every hour in eastern Congo. Sexual violence is a primary reason women and girls are fleeing Syria, according to the International Rescue Committee. In the aftermath of such unimaginable sexual violence, these women and girls are being denied health care they need, including access to abortion.
Listening to Women
It’s time for policymakers to listen to the voices of women and girls who survive rape. Women and girls who, in the midst of bloody civil wars and regional conflicts, are courageously working to heal themselves and others, and stop the vicious cycle of violence.
“I plead for the government of the United States—a government that is respected and its policies replicated across the globe—to start investing its money to heal the mind, body, and spirit of women who have been affected by conflict,” says Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, Executive Director ofIsis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) in Uganda and longtime Global Fund for Women grantee partner. She has worked for over three decades to address the forgotten healthcare needs of women in conflict and post-conflict settings, organizing medical camps in Uganda, Liberia, South Sudan, and refugee camps in Africa.
Global Fund for Women and the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) echo this plea. We call on the United States to be bold in its leadership on a global response to sexual violence, and in doing so, to address both prevention and responses to sexual violence. With more than 65 leaders of U.S. and international organizations from 30 nations standing with us, we have asked Secretary Kerry to take action at the London Summit.
Now, we need your help.
Join us in calling on Obama to set the record straight: women have the right to comprehensive post-rape care, including access to safe abortions in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.
With the momentum of the London Summit propelling us forward, now is the time to end the decades of misapplication of the Helms amendment and break the barriers to post-rape care. Now is the time to listen to the needs of women and girls globally.
This story was originally published in Foreign Policy in Focus
By Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Global Fund for Women board member and co-founder of FemLINKPACIFIC
Wearing t-shirts with the message, “C’mon Fiji, make budgets public now,” 14 members of civil society were detained and questioned by police after a peaceful demonstration earlier this month.
While these Fiji citizens who were detained at the non-violent gathering have not been charged with any offense, it begs the question: How do we communicate our peace and security at a time when there is a fine line between what is approved and allowed by the state?
How do we raise our voices for what we believe to be our right as citizens to communicate our priorities for peace, security, development, human rights, and dignity while upholding and demonstrating the values of non-violence?
After a military coup in 2006, and most recently a rejection of the 2012 draft constitution developed by Fiji’s own constitution commission, Fijians are rightfully critical of their government.
To keep an open dialogue about peace and non-violent resolution front and center, FemLINKPACIFIC revived our weekly peace vigil within the walls of Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral. The space offers a place for members of our community to gather, whether in quiet, silent reflection or larger gatherings to address priority concerns such as the solidarity vigil following the murder of a Suva feminist.
But such a space is not enough. That’s why ever since the military coup, FemLINKPACIFC’s focus has been to provide a safe communication channel for rural and young women community radio producers and broadcasters. This mandate has required us to negotiate through media and civil society controls, including the Public Emergency Regulation, the Media Decree and a quagmire of political processes in order to ensure our network is able to still claim their rightful space to communicate their peace, development, human rights and equality priorities – their peace and security. This includes raising concern about the lack of budget transparency currently practiced by the unelected government.
Women including those 14 detained and questioned this month, have a right to demand accountability on national budget processes. They have a right to continue to advocate through peace actions including local action and community radio broadcasts that peace, security human rights and dignity are prerequisite for human security.
It is critical that as the Fiji Government promotes a zero tolerance campaign on violence against women activists. Civil society must feel safe and engage on key political issues.
As a Fijian, I hope we can quickly return to a parliamentary democracy. Together, we should be able to do this without the threats of intimidation especially when they are peaceful demonstrations such as vigils - whether in a church or public space.
FemLINKPACIFIC enables women to feature community media initiatives, including our community radio broadcasts, interactive dialogue with government officials, television simulcasts and even television current affairs programs. They share the qualitative and quantitative evidence they gather with government officials in order to inform the development process – to link women’s priorities to national budget processes as well as ensure that through localization of UNSCR1325, CEDAW and international campaigns, they still hold the government machinery accountable to women’s rights, peace and security.