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Women's Empowerment

How Trócaire is supporting and investing in women’s rights organisations

At Trócaire, we know the value of investing in, working with and supporting women’s rights and women-centred organisations

Trócaire is supporting and investing in women’s rights organisations Trócaire is supporting and investing in women’s rights organisations

“Supporting and investing in women’s rights organisations is key to ending violence against women and girls.”

This theme is a central focus of the 2023 ‘16 days of activism’ against gender-based violence, which runs from 25 November (International Day for No Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day) each year.

Research had demonstrated that the presence of a strong and autonomous feminist movement is the single most critical factor to drive policy change in ending violence against women and girls both in domestic and global policy making.

Women’s rights organisations also play a vital role in providing services on a local level, bolstering women’s empowerment and reaching those at risk of being left furthest behind.

At Trócaire, we know the value of investing in, working with and supporting women’s rights and women-centred organisations and have made commitments to increasing this support, through equitable partnerships, facilitating capacity sharing, increasing funding, and advocating for increased voice and leadership in decision-making spaces.

This is important given that only 1 percent of gender-focused state aid is directed to these organisations, and funding has not improved despite increased momentum and clear evidence of need, and women’s rights and women-centred organisations face many of the same gender-based discriminatory norms, practices and policies as women and girls do in societies at large.

In humanitarian emergencies, where gender-based violence escalates, localised and effective coordination of GBV interventions to support women and girls is critical.

Local actors are at the heart of humanitarian response, often providing lifesaving GBV prevention and response services to populations in need in volatile security settings, yet they continue to have a marginalized role in leadership and decision making. This is despite the fact that local actors in general, and women’s rights organisations in particular, are rooted in communities, are most affected by the problem and are instrumental in driving transformational change.

Trócaire, together with our partners Active in Development Aid (ADA) in Somalia and Women for Change (WFC) in South Sudan, undertook a participatory action research project to better understand how to dismantle the barriers that these organisations encounter in participating and leading in GBV coordination, and how to foster and support their meaningful leadership.

ADA and WFC were provided with a range of supports including peer-to-peer exchange; mentorship; capacity strengthening; joint monthly coordination meetings; and financial support.

Their experiences were documented over a 12-month period, which has resulted in a ‘Women-Led Organizations’ Leadership in GBV Coordination Resource Package’ which contains recommendations and resources on how to establish more equitable and meaningful co-coordination and how to create space for women’s leadership.

The learning from the project reinforced the value of strengthening women-centred organisations in coordination mechanisms, where their skills and experiences contribute to high-quality and effective action for affected GBV survivors.

However, it also highlighted the multiple barriers that they face, and need for proactive measures to facilitate their participation and leadership, including understanding challenges relating to travel, providing adequate resources, and advocating for diverse representation.

The project demonstrated the need for multi-directional capacity strengthening and sharing, which should start with jointly developed action plans that recognise and build on women-centred organisations knowledge, skills, and experiences.

The need to reform the humanitarian system to value and adapt to the leadership of WLOs was also underscored. Finally, the learning emphasises once again the need for multi-year secure funding that cover operational and program costs and provide organizations with adequate resources to take up leadership positions.

We encourage our peers and partners, particularly those that operate and fund programmes to address GBV and support women’s voice and leadership, to be led by the experiences of ADA and WFC and so many locally-based women-centred, women’s rights and women-led actors to support them in a way that is meaningful to them, and to the women and girls they so valiantly and tirelessly serve.

This work is funded and supported by the USAID-Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance and the Global GBV Area of Responsibility and we are currently delivering phase two of this project.

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