Groups working specifically on identity issues fill an important role in civil society spaces, often serving populations left out of other governmental or non-governmental organizations or programs. These identity-focused groups can provide a safe space where individuals who identify with a particular group—such as indigenous women, women with disabilities, survivors of conflict, trans* women—can meet and be themselves. These groups provide resources to empower their members because, more often than not, the minority identities of their beneficiaries can create a multiplicity of oppressions. However, these same groups are not letting negative perceptions or societal challenges stop them from demanding and defending their human rights.
Global Fund for Women understands the importance of supporting the vital work of groups that directly address issues of identity. These groups are instrumental in lobbying for the rights of the most marginalized populations when other organizations or governmental bodies ignore them. Below are three examples of the kind of innovative work our grantee partners are doing to ensure that every individual is included in the movement for gender equality.
CRIOLA – Brazil
CRIOLA is an organization led by Afro-Brazilian women that works to empower black women and girls in the poorest areas of Rio de Janeiro. The organization provides skills trainings, economic opportunity programs which incorporate Afro-Brazilian art, and human rights and advocacy workshops. Through these programs, CRIOLA aims to increase the living standards for Afro-Brazilian women and girls and enable them to combat racism, sexism, and homophobia within their communities.
Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) – Iraq
OWFI works to end violence against women and champion gender equality in Iraq, issues which have become even more urgent with the presence of ISIS. The group operates a network of shelters for survivors of conflict and trafficking, which also serve as centers to teach women about their rights. In addition, OWFI has lobbied the Iraqi government for legislation to compensate survivors of ISIS enslavement and to legalize NGO-run shelters.
Mitini – Nepal
Mitini was founded to provide a space where Nepali lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women could be themselves and connect with other members of the LBTQI community. The organization provides counseling services, sexual health education, and information for these women regarding their rights. In addition to these services, Mitini promotes and teaches tolerance in the community and lobbies for LBTQI rights locally and internationally.