In closed societies or in countries transitioning to democracy, women are often denied access to power, resources, information, and basic human rights. The Women’s Rights Program works to advance women’s rights and gender equality in law and in practice. The program promotes and protects the rights of women and girls around the globe, particularly in places where good governance and respect for the rule of law have been weakened or destroyed by conflict. We aim to strengthen institutions that are responsive to and inclusive of women and to create conditions that allow women to control their own political, economic, and social development.
Through grantmaking, advocacy, capacity building, organizing meetings and exchanges, and building coalitions, we support efforts to reduce discrimination and violence against women, strengthen access to justice, and promote women’s empowerment.
Reducing Discrimination and Violence Against Women
In many countries, governments do not adopt or enforce laws that protect women; some countries fail to stop practices that discriminate against and harm women. The Women’s Rights Program works to improve the status of women in conflict and post-conflict societies by strengthening legal frameworks, developing civil society’s capacity to demand accountability, and empowering women to understand and claim their rights.
Strengthening Women’s Access to Justice
Effective justice systems hold governments accountable, redress power imbalances, and implement the rule of law. We support initiatives that ensure women are treated equally under the law; provide legal aid; and ensure that justice mechanisms are equitable and inclusive of women.
Supporting Women’s Empowerment and Capacity Building
There is a continued absence of women’s voices in leadership due to the unequal participation and representation of women at the grassroots level, in governments, civil society, and the marketplace. The Women’s Rights Program supports initiatives that strengthen women’s capacity as advocates and participants in public policy arenas. As critical agents of social change, women should have the opportunity to participate in the decisions that affect their lives and families.
The Women’s Rights Program focuses on strengthening legal norms and enforcement mechanisms that advance the rights of women. Our advocacy work has supported the voices of women activists on the ground both directly and indirectly. In the last year, the program worked closely with a coalition of advocacy groups to obtain United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1820 and 1888, which obligate governments to prevent and prosecute acts of sexual violence during conflict. In addition, we supported the creation of a new UN position, the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is now occupied by an experienced candidate. The program was also part of an advocacy group working on the creation of UN Women, the UN entity focused on women’s rights created in July 2011.
The Women’s Rights Program has limited its focus to the following countries: Nepal, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Palestine, Iraq, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The program will continue to support organizations in Burma, Cambodia, and Lebanon at a lower scale.
We also support initiatives of regional or multi-country scope with the goal of helping women’s rights advocates share experiences, strategies and best practices; create international, regional and local networks; and promote access to information.