Against the Odds: Women Lead in Times of Crisis

Crisis strikes in many forms, and when it hits, women and children are the most vulnerable. Often, their unique needs are overlooked by traditional aid. Global Fund for Women has a long history of grantmaking and advocacy to support grassroots women’s groups and movements in responding to crises, both for short-term relief and recovery as well as long-term rehabilitation and rebuilding.

Crisis Fund

Global Fund for Women launched its Crisis Fund to respond quickly and effectively to political and health crises, natural disasters, and critical tipping points. In partnership with the NoVo Foundation, our Crisis Fund is focused on getting emergency funding into the hands of grassroots women’s groups who can meet the acute needs of women and their families. The Fund also works to put women at the center of long-term recovery efforts.

Our crisis grantmaking and advocacy are closely aligned. We work quickly to raise awareness of women’s rights issues in crises and amplify women’s voices that are too often missing.

  • Chennai floods, India, December 2015. Supported three women’s groups to provide supplies, hygiene kits, and housing repair tools to women in villages and slums, as well as work on land improvements to agricultural land that was affected—with a focus on plots owned by women.
  • Tropical Cyclone Winston, Fiji, February 2016. Supported long-time grantee partners FemLINK Pacific and Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA] for Equality to meet the needs of the most vulnerable women, including young women, LGBTQI individuals, and women with disabilities.
  • Ecuador earthquake, April 2016. Supported grantee partners to hold reproductive health and rights trainings, distribute contraceptives and sanitary napkins, and run violence prevention seminars to raise awareness of increased rates of violence against women in times of crisis.
  • Nepal earthquake, April 2015. Sustained support to women’s groups more than a year after the earthquake to continue long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts—empowering women with skills trainings and income opportunities, such as tailoring and plumbing, rebuilding women’s homes in hard-hit communities, and working to ensure that women’s rights are being protected and advanced.

Crisis Response

Global Fund for Women’s unique approach to investing in ‘tipping points’—critical moments for political or social turmoil—is also essential to our crisis response approach, as evidenced in Poland. When a total ban on abortions was proposed by the government in early 2016, Global Fund for Women supported ASTRA Network to help mount a powerful resistance.

With crisis support provided in April, ASTRA Network built a broad coalition of women’s groups and other grassroots organizations across Poland to raise awareness about the threat to women’s health and human rights. They launched effective media campaigns to put pressure on the government throughout 2016 leading up to massive “Black Monday” strikes that led Poland’s parliament to withdraw the proposed legislation in October.

Similarly, as a crisis grew in Turkey over the past year relating to the on-and-off conflict between Turkish forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ party, Global Fund for Women shone a spotlight on women’s issues and elevated women’s voices with an in-depth piece on the situation for women throughout Turkey. Our crisis funding to a grantee partner in April helped to address urgent needs of women and LGBT people in hard-hit Diyarbakir, the southeast city at the heart of the conflict between Kurdish forces and Turkish forces.