Six organisations fighting gender-based violence you can support all year
The world is witnessing a frightening backlash against women’s rights. The intersecting crises of Covid-19, the climate emergency and political instability are leading to a rise in anti-feminist movements, attacks against women human rights defenders, and threats to a woman’s right to have control over her own body.
However, research shows that the single most important driver of change is a strong and autonomous women’s movement. Grassroots, local, feminist mobilisations around the world can mean the difference between life and death to millions of women and girls.
We have highlighted six of these organisations below, that are fighting tirelessly against gender-based violence every single day of the year.
1. Help women in Afghanistan share their stories
In 2021 the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, barring women from workplaces and educational institutions. Women lawyers, judges and prosecutors were dismissed from their jobs and forced into hiding, with reports of homes being ransacked by Taliban fighters.
Violence against women has escalated with the closure of women’s shelters and other support services, and a number of men imprisoned for committing violence against women were freed. Women have also been banned from entering public parks, swimming pools and gyms in the capital city Kabul, with the rule expected to be extended across the country.
Rukshana Media is an Afghan women’s media organisation founded by Zahra Joya to share stories by and about Afghan women. It is named after a young woman who was stoned to death in 2015 after fleeing an arranged marriage and being accused of adultery.
Working with a small team of female reporters and volunteers, Rukshana Media covers issues relating to the rights of women all over country, including child marriage, street harassment, economic hardship, gender-based violence and what it means to live as a survivor of rape.
- Read more: Rukhshana Media
2. Fight discrimination against women in rural India
The mostly rural, Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have historically had strong patriarchal attitudes and high rates of female infanticide. Dalit and Muslim women in particular are facing increasing discrimination with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doubling down on ethno-nationalism. Meanwhile female journalists are trolled, harassed and persecuted by the state, with India becoming “one of the most dangerous countries to report from in the world”.
Khabar Lahariya is a women-led news platform focusing on the everyday stories of people that are rarely captured by mainstream media, such as this article on Dalit women travelling for hours each day to collect clean water.
The grassroots organisation has become an important watchdog, with a network of 30 courageous female reporters exposing abuses of power, violence against women, and explicitly questioning India’s structures of power and inequity in the face of the government’s crackdown on freedom.
- Read more: Khabar Lahariya
3. Fight the UK’s epidemic of violence against women
The brutal abduction, rape and killing of Sarah Everard by a police officer in 2021 shocked Britain. However this horrific event did not happen in isolation – the murders of another two young women, Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa, swiftly followed in the headlines. These events got the attention of the media and revealed that the UK is experiencing an epidemic of gender-based violence that the criminal justice system is failing to tackle, and worse still, appears to be enabling.
At least two women a week die at the hands of partners and ex-partners, usually after having asked the police for help which was not forthcoming. Meanwhile the conviction rate for rape and domestic violence is just 1.3%.
Women Against Rape (WAR) supports women who have been raped, sexually and racially assaulted. It also helps survivors get protection, asylum and compensation for the violence they have suffered.
Founded in 1976, WAR is based at Crossroads Women’s Centre in London, home to a number of groups that while autonomous, work collectively to fight poverty, racism, ableism and misogyny, including Global Women’s Strike, WinVisible, Support Not Separation, All African Women’s Group, and Payday Men’s Network.
- Read about WAR’s history of campaigning: Women Against Rape
4. Write to imprisoned survivors of gender-based violence in the US
The majority of women incarcerated in the US have experienced domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and/or child abuse in their lifetime – 79% have reported some form of physical abuse while more than 60% have been sexually abused in the past.
Women of colour are significantly overrepresented in US prisons, with Black women 4.5 times more likely than white women to be incarcerated. Furthermore, 64% are imprisoned for non-violent offences.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has found that once in prison many women are subjected to further violence at the hands of (mostly male) prison guards, including rape, sexual extortion and groping during body searches.
Survived and Punished is a nationwide volunteer-run organisation that campaigns for the abolition of prison sentences for victims of abuse who were defending themselves from their attacker. Among its projects is a letter-writing campaign that aims to tackle the isolation of survivors in prison. Letter-writing provides survivors with emotional support, and allows Survived and Punished to monitor and expose the abusive prison conditions many women face.
- Find out more about letter-writing to survivors: Survived and Punished
5. Protect the land and lives of Afro-indigenous women in Honduras
Miriam Miranda is an award-winning activist who has dedicated her life to defending the rights of the Garifuna community, one of the indigenous populations of Honduras. For her efforts to protect their land she has been kidnapped, arrested and tortured on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately her story is far from unique. In 2016 environmental activist Berta Caceres was shot dead after leading protests against a hydro-electric dam project that would have flooded large areas of land and cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of indigenous Lenca people in Honduras.
Women-led organisations like OFRANEH (the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) led by Miriam, and COPINH, that represents the Lenca community, have been on the frontline of efforts to defend their land from corporations. But environmental activists are routinely intimidated, arrested and killed – for daring to protest against being evicted from their own land.
- Read more about OFRANEH
6. Stop violence against deaf women in Argentina
Deaf people face discrimination and microaggressions, both from hearing people and the deaf community. Additionally there is a lack of accessible information and support for deaf women who have experienced gender-based violence.
“To be a disabled woman is a double challenge,” filmmaker and activist Marie-Andrée Boivin told us in 2021. “We can talk about intersectionality: the accumulation of oppressions. We are discriminated against for being women, and also for being deaf.”
Sordas Sin Violencia (Deaf Without Violence) is a program in Argentina co-led by deaf and hearing women to provide emotional support and access to resources for survivors of gender-based violence in the deaf community. Deaf mediators, interpreters, and hearing professionals from across the country help women with everything from finding health services to testifying in court.
- Read more about Sordas Sin Violencia
We want to hear from you. What organisations do you support? Leave us a comment below.