Webinar: Feminist and Women’s Movements in the Context of Ending Violence against Women and Girls
On 5 April, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) held a webinar to discuss the role of feminist and women’s movements in ending violence against women and girls.
Gemma Wood, Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Manager at the UN Trust Fund, opened the webinar by introducing the key findings of “Feminist and Women’s Movements in the Context of Ending Violence against Women and Girls – Implications for Funders and Grant Makers,” a working paper commissioned by the UN Trust Fund and authored by independent expert Dr. Nidal Karim.
The paper provides an overview of different theories about social movements and movement-building and their characteristics, as well as organizational types and roles within movements. It focuses on feminist movements and offers recommendations to funders and grant-makers on how to best support feminist movement building.
Under its new Strategic Plan (2021-2025), the UN Trust Fund is committed to enabling civil society and women’s rights organizations as part of its efforts to support inclusive feminist movements in their work to end violence against women.
Empowering feminist movements
Lara Fergus, Co-Director of the Accelerator for Gender-Based Violence Prevention, highlighted the increased interest in funding efforts to end gender-based violence, but stressed that the crucial value of women’s movements, women’s rights organizations and feminist activists was often under-appreciated. She added:
“These movements catalyze the need for change. They make communities aware of what the issues are. They enable the work to be sustained once funding dries out. The UN Trust Fund has recognized it.”
Iheoma Obibi, Executive Director of Alliances for Africa, a UN Trust Fund grantee in Nigeria, described the “key ingredients” of social mobilization for policy change, one of which is establishing strategic alliances. She said:
“We recognized [that] for systematic change to happen, we needed states parties to be involved.”
Juana Sales Morales from the Tz’ununija’/Ixtzunun Movimiento de mujeres indigenas (Indigenous Women’s Movement)  shared her experience of coordinating a social movement led by and for indigenous women in Guatemala. She added:
“Violence is a social, structural, and legal problem, therefore… we must work together.”
The women’s rights organization Badabon Sangho has tackled internal displacement and harassment issues in Bangladesh by bringing together 14 women’s rights organizations and focusing on economic rights for women and girls. Executive Director Lipi Rahman emphasized that “collective voices” enabled the group to “fill the feminist movement vacuum in the areas of land-induced violence against women.”
In Armenia, the Women’s Resource Center and its Coalition to Stop Violence against Women has continued to push for institutional changes in the face of multiple, intersecting, and simultaneous crises. Co-Founder and Co-Director Gohar Shahnazaryan highlighted the power of mobilizing communities and building a movement. She said this was crucial because disinformation, pressure from anti-gender movements and lack of institutional support could otherwise hamper the EVAW Coalition and its work. She added:
“One of the accomplishments is an advocacy done with the survivors and not on their behalf.”
Dr. Nidal Karim echoed the important interventions of civil society actors, saying they are “best placed to know what trade-offs they are willing to make to ensure the work moves forward.”
Dr. Nidal Karim said that flexible funding must support local feminist movements’ strategic adaptations to the lived experiences of women and girls. She stressed that:
- movement building work is non-linear and can be unpredictable;
- funding coalition work beyond the scope of a single organization or project is important; and
- constituent-led mobilization is critical to building momentum.
Representatives of UN Trust Fund-supported civil society and women’s rights organizations shared their recommendations for funders and grant-makers.
- Iheoma Obibi emphasized the need to strengthen women-led organizations’ capacity to get a seat at the table in order to access funding.
- Lipi Rahman suggested increased communication between grassroots grantees and donors.
- Gohar Shahnazaryan recommended provisions for emergency funding during protracted crises.
- Juana Sales Morales said that donors need to be more flexible about the requirements to apply for funding because indigenous communities sometimes lack access to and familiarity with technology.
Concluding the panel discussion, Dr. Nidal Karim said she recognized that some donors choose to fund only a specific area of work on ending violence against women without recognizing continuum of violence. However, she added, quoting the feminist, civil rights activist, and author Audre Lorde:
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
The full recording of the events will be shared with all attendees and available upon requests for non-attendees. Please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Continue the discussion on SHINE, a global knowledge exchange on ending violence against women and girls.
 A women-led network of over 80 organizations and groups working to end violence against indigenous women. It focuses on the Maya, Garifuna and Xinka in 12 departments of Guatemala.