The right to live free from violence is a basic human right. Yet, gender-based violence—be it state-sanctioned violence (such as laws and policies that repress or harm women and girls), threats from fundamentalist forces, or intimate partner violence—persists in every country of the world and affects women, girls, and trans people of all ages and backgrounds.
Despite some progress, the numbers remain startling and the stories painful: more than one in three women worldwide have experienced physical violence; one in 10 girls have experienced forced intercourse or other sexual acts; and while at least 140 countries criminalize domestic violence, these laws are often not enforced (UN Women).
WHY IT MATTERS
We envision a world free of violence against women in all its forms.
In regions marred by conflict and political and religious turmoil, women and girls face systematic rape and kidnappings. The growing power of fundamentalisms (which use religion and culture to justify intolerance, harmful practices, and reductions in personal freedoms) are putting women at greater risk of violence in many parts of the world, whether it be girls captured by Boko Haram in Nigeria, women subjected to “honor” killings in Palestine, or trans people attacked for their identity in Turkey.
Rising nationalism, conservatism, and fundamentalism are also placing women human rights defenders at increased risk of violence. Women human rights defenders are putting their lives at risk every day by speaking up against abuse, land-grabs, and injustice. Defenders are attacked for who they are—their identity as women—and for what they do—fight for human rights for all.
Eliminating all forms of violence is at the heart of all of Global Fund for Women’s work: if a woman faces threats of violence, her ability to access her other human rights—to go to work, get an education, and control her own sexual health—is fundamentally endangered.
WHAT WE’RE DOING TO DRIVE CHANGE
We fund efforts against all forms of gender based violence. In the current moment, we have identified priorities that have become even more urgent.
Recent conflicts around the globe—in areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Colombia, Guatemala, and elsewhere—have put women and girls at risk. In conflict zones and as refugees from conflict zones, women and girls have been arrested and detained, sexually assaulted, harassed, and tortured. We support groups that address these fundamental violations of rights, and groups that are supporting survivors of violence seeking reparations. We also know that women and girls can hold the key to conflict resolution, and we partner with groups that encourage women’s leadership and agency in peace-building and recovery.
Additionally, we continue to recognize the critical, courageous work of women human rights defenders who are putting their lives at risk through their activism. In recent years there has been an uptick in attacks against women human rights defenders, including in countries such as Egypt, Russia, and Honduras. We support local, national, and regional initiatives that advance the safety and security of these defenders.
Finally, we recognize that fundamentalist movements have become more aggressive in recent years, putting the rights and safety of women, girls, and trans people at risk. Dealing with the increase of violence against women and girls worldwide requires feminist approaches that put a strong emphasis on challenging these rising fundamentalisms. We support women’s human rights groups and religious and secular feminists to exercise their voice and leadership, and challenge fundamentalist forces.
OUR TRACK RECORD
Since 1988, Global Fund for Women has awarded more than $26.2 million dollars to more than 1,000 groups working on building peace and ending gender-based violence. Global Fund for Women grantees have helped pass anti-violence laws in 25 countries, protecting over a billion women and girls. Our grantmaking and advocacy campaigns continue to mobilize resources and help change laws and social norms, cultivating a culture of zero tolerance towards violence against women and girls in all its forms.
For example, our DefendHer campaign profiled the work of women human rights defenders—and the threats against them—for brave activists across the globe. We have prioritized supporting groups who work with Syrian women refugees, particularly in developing and supporting their leadership in rebuilding their communities. And our work in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa—where sexual violence has become endemic—is part of our strategy to achieve sustainable, holistic change by addressing the root causes of violence against women. We are supporting 40 women’s organizations that are working together to bring lasting peace and stability to a region traumatized by conflict for decades.