Location: Toronto, Canada and San José, Costa Rica
Grant Work: Global
Channel Focus Areas: Women’s Leadership and Human Rights Institutes, Advancing Indigenous Women’s Rights and Leadership
Watch: WHRI YouTube
The mission of the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute (WHRI), currently run in partnership with the Fundación Justicia y Género based in San José, Costa Rica, is to build transformative leadership skills amongst women’s human rights defenders and to support transnational feminist movement building and knowledge sharing. Participants of WHRI programs develop the capacity to use international human rights mechanisms for their activism and are empowered to become changemakers who impact and redefine human rights standards and agendas from an intersectional feminist activist framework.
WHRI was formerly housed at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.
2021-24: Channel made a three year general operating grant to WHRI (via fiscal sponsorship of Fundación Justicia y Género) to continue supporting its mission to build transformative leadership skills amongst women’s human rights defenders and to support transnational feminist movement building and knowledge sharing. Funds will be used for their ongoing work as well as processes of strategic planning, new program development and institution-building.
2020: Channel made a grant (via fiscal sponsorship of Fundación Justicia y Género) to support WHRI’s 2021 educational programs focused on training civil society participants in understanding and utilizing the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). At WHRI participants from around the world can learn in-depth about the theory and praxis of women’s human rights. Participants develop a practical understanding of the UN Human Rights system and how to apply a women’s human rights framework to a multiplicity of issues, as well as developing the skills to carry out human rights education workshops.
2018-19: Channel made grants (via fiscal sponsorship of Fundación Justicia y Género) to continue supporting the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute (WHRI) educational programs focused on training women human rights defenders in understanding and utilizing the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In 2018-19 WHRI led several collaborative training programs (within Ecuador and Costa Rica with FJYG) as well as their long time CEDAW Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada.
In 2019, Channel funds were used to support scholarships for women’s human rights defenders from the Global South to participate in WHRI’s 2019 educational and capacity building programs such as:
- CEDAW South to South Institute at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Derechos de Las Mujeres entiempos de crisis (Women’s Human Rights in Times of Crisis) in Quito, Ecuador.
- Consultation on the CEDAW General Recommendation on the rights of Indigenous Women in Quito, Ecuador.
2017: Channel made a grant to support the WHRI’s 2017 educational programs that focused on training participants in understanding and utilizing the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) — particularly collaborative programs in Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, and Guatemala as well as CEDAW for Change programs in Toronto, Canada and Oxford, UK.
2016: Channel made a grant to support the WHRI CEDAW for Change Institute in Costa Rica, held at University of Peace in June 2016, the WHRI Intensive held at the University of Toronto in August 2016; and some CEDAW trainings in Honduras in Spring 2016.
2015: Channel made a one time small grant to support the Initiative by the Indigenous Women’s Alliance for CEDAW (through WHRI’s fiscal sponsorship) to advocate with the CEDAW Committee during the October 2015 CEDAW Session for a General Recommendation on Indigenous Women. See the Impact section below for an update on this campaign.
Also in 2015, Channel made a grant to support the tuition expenses of several women’s rights activists to participate in the 2015 WHRI Intensive and CEDAW for Change in Toronto, as well as the development and execution of their Latin American-based Spanish language programs, including a 2015 program in Costa Rica for Mesoamerican women’s human rights defenders.
2014: Channel made a grant to support the tuition expenses of several women’s rights activists to participate in several of the 2014 WHRI Institutes: One took place in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2014; the CEDAW for Change one week Institute which took place at the University of Toronto; and the CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women, in Central America also in 2014.
2012: Channel made a grant to support the first CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women in Wayuu Territory, Colombia. WHRI collaborated with the Colombian indigenous women’s group Fuerza Mujeres Wayuu in order to train 26 indigenous women from several organizations and support their engagement with the UN CEDAW Review process in advance of Colombia’s scheduled report in 2013. The workshop’s goals included “strengthening the leadership capabilities and political participation of indigenous women as well as contributing toward improving the situation of indigenous women at the local, national and international level.”
A video slideshow of photos of the first CEDAW Week for Indigenous Women in Colombia can be viewed here.
2010–2013: Channel made annual grants to support the participation of several women’s rights activists from various countries around the world for the six week WHRI Institute: Building a Peaceful World in an Era of Globalization, and the CEDAW for Change one week institutes at the University of Toronto.
Initiated in 2004, WHRI was created by feminist jurist and activist Alda Facio, Founder and Executive Director of the Programa Justicia, Mujer y Genero of the UN Latin American Institute for Crime Prevention, Justice, and Treatment of Offenders of Costa Rica.
The Institute integrates in-depth learning about the UN Human Rights system, with a particular focus on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), with wider feminist understandings about the gender bias inherent in the law, feminist understandings of the impact of globalization on women’s human rights, and with training in facilitation and workshop techniques to ensure replication of the training around the world.
The full institute runs for six weeks, with a team of international and intergenerational facilitators who bring considerable experience and expertise regarding the law, education, activism and positive social change. For those who cannot attend for the full six weeks, the one-week CEDAW for Change module offered in collaboration with International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) is opened up for additional participants.
WHRI is part of an alliance of organizations that together embarked on a process to campaign for the CEDAW Committee to adopt a General Recommendation on Indigenous Women. Initially known as the Indigenous Women’s Alliance for CEDAW, this coalition grew out of the synergy between the existing work of the collaborating organizations and the collective knowledge-building undertaken together to explore the ways in which CEDAW and women’s human rights tools and standards could be mobilized to better support the struggles of indigenous women. As of November 2020, the CEDAW Committee has begun to focus on the process of developing a General Recommendation on the rights of Indigenous Women.
From 2014 to 2020, Alda Facio, WHRI Academic Director and President of the Fundación Justicia y Género, was a member of the UN Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice. The appointment recognized the extraordinary contributions and commitment to women’s rights around the world of Dr. Facio, a former Costa Rican judge and an international human rights expert. The Working Group is tasked with identifying, promoting and exchanging views on good practices to eliminate laws that discriminate against women and developing a dialogue with States and other actors on laws that have a discriminatory impact.