Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative receives 2014 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award

The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative received the 2014 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights International Award in a ceremony on Oct. 29, 2014. Since its founding, the Initiative has provided women defenders with training in human rights, security and self‐care, created rapid‐response networks for them, documented cases of attacks against them, published in‐depth gendered analysis of the violence they confront, and worked with a range of international human rights institutions to ensure that protection policies better serve women. By bringing a gender analysis to the violent contexts they confront, and developing the political and empowering nature of self-care, the Mesoamerican Initiative—founded in 2010 and managed by a coordinating team (that includes several Channel grantee partners) of Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad-OaxacaAWID, UDEFEGUA, La Colectiva Feminista, Central American Women’s Fund, the National Women Defenders Network in Honduras, and JASS (Just Associates)—seeks to strengthen and protect women and their movements, and underline how human rights and gender equality are fundamental to any movement for peace and social justice. The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) created the Letelier‐Moffitt International Award for Human Rights to honor the memory of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, IPS colleagues murdered in Washington D.C. in 1976 by a car bomb denoted by agents of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. While paying homage to Letelier and Moffitt, the award celebrates “new heroes of the human rights movement from the US and the Americas.”

Alda Facio Named to UN Working Group

In June 2014, Alda Facio, advisor to two of Channel’s grantee partners, the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute and JASS Mesoamerica, was appointed to the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice. As a former Costa Rican judge and an international human rights expert, this appointment recognizes Dr. Facio’s extraordinary contributions and commitment to women’s rights around the world. 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.

WILPF Launches 100th Anniversary Atlas

The Women’s Power to Stop War Anniversary Atlas, launched in May 2014, is an interactive timeline created by Channel grantee partner the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) that enables people to view the dynamic past, present and future activities of women peacemakers through a global lens. Most importantly, it is the first time that the work of women peacemakers comes together to clearly demonstrate what the collective strength of women’s power to stop war looks like on a global scale through a fun and accessible online forum. The Atlas is an ongoing project facilitated by WILPF, where all peacemakers are able to add past and future events to the Atlas to put women’s power to stop war on the map once and for all. The Atlas is part of the global Anniversary movement of WILPF,  Women’s Power to Stop War which connects, strengthens and celebrates the work of women peacemakers from all around the world and culminates at the major international conference on Disarmament, Gender and Peace of the century.


Afghan Institute of Learning Founder Sakena Yacoobi Wins Three Awards

In November 2013 Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and Director of Channel grantee partner the Afghan Institute of Learning, won three awards for her outstanding work with the organization: the 2013 Opus Prize which honors unsung heroes of any faith tradition with a $1 million award for efforts to solve today’s most persistent and pressing global issues, including poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice; the Pioneer Award, presented to celebrate the impact individuals can have in making social change happen across the world at Good Deals 13, a conference focused on social investing and entrepreneurship; and the Global Generation Award which celebrates campus activism and honors global leaders who champion sustainable international development.

“Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots”

In a 2013 report, Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots: The Status of Financing for Women’s Rights Organizing and Gender Equality, the Assocation for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) provides the latest analysis on the funding trends impacting women’s rights organizing and the financial status of women’s organizations around the world. Based on a survey of over 1,100 women’s organizations in every region of the world, the report helps make sense of the rapidly changing funding landscape and makes recommendations for how to mobilize more and better resources for women’s rights organizing through a feminist collective resource mobilization approach.

Two Channel Grantee Partners Named Ashoka Fellows

In May 2013 Cristi Hegranes, Executive Director and founder of the Global Press Institute, and Susan Sygall, CEO and co-founder of Mobility International USA were two of the five social entrepreneurs named Ashoka Fellows. Ashoka Fellows are recognized for their innovative solutions to some of society’s most pressing social problems. For more, read recent interviews with both Cristi and Susan from Forbes.

ICAN Releases Brief on Sri Lankan Women’s Struggle for Security and Justice

The 8th brief in Channel grantee partner the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)’s “What the Women Say” series focuses on women in Sri Lanka’s northern provinces in the aftermath of war. Drawing on a survey conducted in ten war-torn districts and discussions with over 450 women, “Elusive Peace, Pervasive Violence” reflects on women’s legal gains and their activism for peace and human rights while also highlighting the critical security, economic and social risks that many women face. The recommendations ICAN offers to the Sri Lankan government and the international community reflect the survey findings and priorities outlined in the 2012 Sri Lankan Women’s Agenda on Peace, Security and Development.

FIMI Honors Indigenous Women’s Leadership With New Award

On May 24, 2013, in New York City, Channel grantee partner FIMI (Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indigenas/International Indigenous Women’s Forum) presented two important Indigenous women leaders Mphatheleni Makaulule (VhaVenda) from South Africa and Dr. Mirna Cunningham (Miskita) from Nicaragua with the 2013 FIMI Global Leadership Awards. The award celebrates the impact of indigenous women leaders and is being given to Makaulule in recognition of her work with women and communities in the VhaVenda region of South Africa and to Cunningham for her medical and advocacy work in Nicaragua and in the international arena. In an interview with Cultural Survival, Mariana Lopez from FIMI described the award thus: “we are celebrating indigenous women who have implemented creative ways to address pressing social issues, demonstrating courage, creativity and vision.”

Hillary Clinton Honors Women’s Link Worldwide Programs Director

On April 17, 2013 in New York City, the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Mónica Roa, Channel grantee partner Women’s Link Worldwide’s Programs Director, with the inaugural Charlotte Bunch Women’s Human Rights Defender Award as part of the Global Fund for Women‘s 25th Anniversary Gala. This extraordinary honor recognizes Ms. Roa’s fearless and passionate work on behalf of the rights of women and girls, including her historic work to recognize the right to an abortion under certain circumstances in Colombia. Watch video of the award presentation here.

WILPF Launches 100th Anniversary Campaign: Women’s Power to Stop War

On March 8, 2013, Channel grantee partner the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) launched the Women’s Power to Stop War campaign in preparation for their 100th anniversary. 1,136 visionary women will come together to participate in the second women’s peace and security conference of a century in April 26-29, 2015, in the World Forum in the Hague, the same place where 1,136 women came together to stop World War I in 1915.

Digital Democracy Wins Knight News Challenge

On Jan, 17, 2013, Channel grantee partner Digital Democracy (Dd), a nonprofit that builds community technology capacity in marginalized communities, was selected as one of eight winners of the prestigious Knight News Challenge. The award from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will support Dd’s new Remote Access initiative and the creation of a toolkit to help remote and indigenous communities document environmental and human rights threats, beginning in the Peruvian Amazon.


Channel Grantees Speak at Clinton Global Initiative

Channel grantee partners FRIDA Fund Coordinator Amina Doherty and AWID Executive Director Lydia Alpízar-Durán spoke at the Sept. 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Their reflections on the meeting appeared in the Oct. 19, 2012 AWID Friday File.

Global Press Institute Wins Grinnell Social Justice Prize

Cristi Hegranes, founder and executive director of Channel grantee partner the Global Press Institute, has won the 2012 prestigious Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize from Grinnell College. The prize, which received nominations from 45 countries, honors three individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in affecting positive social change. The prize includes a $100,000 award. Watch this video to find out more about GPI and the award.


GBV Call Center in Haiti Now Open 24 hours

In 2011 Channel grantee partner Digital Democracy launched the first emergency response hotline for rape and sexual violence in Haiti with their local partner KOFAVIV.  Thanks to support from UNHCR, the 572 Emergency Response Hotline Call Center has extended its service to 24-hour care as of May 1, 2012. No matter the time of day or night, survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) including rape, sexual violence and domestic violence in Haiti can call 572 to access critical support and services. Since its formal launch in September 2012, the call center has fielded over 1700 calls. The expansion to 24-hour service closes a critical gap, allowing women and girls to access resources and support during nighttime and weekend hours, when many cases of rape and GBV are happening.

FRIDA Fund Announces First Round of Grants

Out of 1,000 proposals from 120 countries, the FRIDA Young Feminist Fund (with voting input from the applicants themselves) chose 18 dynamic young feminist groups from Africa, Latin America & The Caribbean, The Middle East and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Central Eastern Europe, Caucuses and Central Asia for their first round of grants.

WILPF-US Launches Report with Recommendations for US National Action Plan

In conjunction with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Dec. 19, 2011 announcement of the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, WILPF-U.S. launched its Final Report of the Civil Society Consultations on the Development of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security with the U.S. State Department.
The consultations in five cities across the U.S. resulted in 64 Recommendations for implementation of UN SCR 1325 in the NAP, arising from what women in the U.S. articulated as constituting peace and security from a “human security” perspective.

First U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security

On Dec. 19, 2011 President Obama released the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, and signed an Executive Order directing the Plan be implemented.  Together, the Executive Order and National Action Plan chart a roadmap for how the United States will accelerate and institutionalize efforts across the government to advance women’s participation in preventing conflict and keeping peace.  The documents represent a fundamental change in how the U.S. will approach its diplomatic, military, and development-based support to women in areas of conflict, by ensuring that their perspectives and considerations of gender are woven into the fabric of how the United States approaches peace processes, conflict prevention, the protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance.

New Young Feminist Fund, FRIDA, Launches First Call for Proposals

Channel grantee partner FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund mobilizes resources, funds and strengthens the participation and leadership of young feminist activists globally. The goal of The Young Feminist Fund (FRIDA) is to provide accessible, strategic and responsive funding for young feminist-led initiatives, and to strengthen the capacity of young feminist organizations to both leverage their own resources and increase their social change impact. FRIDA invites applications from groups led by young women and transgender youth under 30 years of age for grants of up to USD 5,000.

Top-Rated in Ending Violence Against Women

In 2011, a group of 77 independent experts ranked three Channel grantee partners as top-rated in the field of ending violence against women internationally: the Global Fund for Women, The Center for Women’s Global Leadership (which runs the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign); and Women Living Under Muslim Laws and their initiative Violence is Not Our Culture, a global campaign to stop violence against women in the name of culture.

US Civil Society Working Group Releases Expert Statement

In anticipation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Security Council Resolution 1325, members of the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security have released an expert statement describing why implementation of 1325 is critical, giving recommendations on what the U.S. should do to ensure that its plan is effective, and breaking down myths about women’s participation in peace and security.

Global Press Institute Reporter Wins Reuters’ Kurt Schork Award

Gertrude Pswarayi, a reporter at the Zimbabwe News Desk of Channel grantee partner the Global Press Institute (GPI), has won this year’s 2011 Kurt Schork Award in the local reporter category for her piece “Political Rape Survivors Come Forward in Advance of 2011 Election,” an article published by GPI last December about women who were raped and exploited as a tool of political persecution in Zimbabwe, a country with “zero tolerance for the journalism of revelation,” the judges noted. The Kurt Schork Memorial Awards are the world’s only journalism prize that specifically honors foreign news by reporters living and working in the developing world and countries in transition.

Three Women Peace Activists Win 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Gbowee spoke recently at Seattle’s Town Hall ( to listen click here) on a book tour for her new memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War.

WILPF Civil Society Consultations for US 1325 National Action Plan

The U.S. government is creating a National Action Plan on Security Council Resolution 1325 which mandates the inclusion of women at all levels of peacebuilding. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world, with 60 chapters in the U.S. alone, is organizing meetings in September and October 2011 so U.S. civil society groups can communicate and consult with representatives from the State Department. Find more on WILPF’s advocacy and the consultations on their website.

Women, War & Peace on PBS

Women, War & Peace produced by Abby Disney is a bold new five-part national PBS television series (beginning Oct. 11, 2011) challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain. With depth and complexity, Women, War & Peace spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare. Two of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners, Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, both of Liberia, are featured in Pray the Devil Back to Hell, the second f ilm in the series.

Global Press Institute Reporter Wins Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship

Jackee Budesta Batanda, a Ugandan reporter based at the Kampala news desk of Channel grantee partner the Global Press Institute (GPI), has been named the 2011-2012 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow by the International Women’s Media Foundation. Batanda is determined to research and report on powerful issues at play in Uganda — including the “closing media spaces in African nations.”

“GPI offers journalists the opportunity to seek out stories within their own contexts and actually write about the real issues on the ground, not what is dictated by editors sitting in the U.S.,” Batanda writes. “That gives the GPI an edge as journalists are able to capture issues that affect their communities and that they really care about.”

After her seven month fellowship at  MIT’s Center for International Studies and other Boston-area universities, Batanda, 31, plans to create a reporting skills workshop for other Ugandan journalists.

AWID and WHRDIC Publish Report on Security for Women Human Rights Defenders

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)’s new publication, “Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk: Mapping and Preliminary Assessment,” was written by Inmaculada Barcia and produced by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. The report, the first of its kind, describes the types of resources and strategies available to respond to urgent situations of violence against women human rights defnders (WHRDs) as well as some of the organizations that offer them.

Global Press Institute Founder Receives Jefferson Award

Cristi Hegranes, founder of Channel grantee partner the Global Press Institute, has won a Jefferson Award for Public Service “for using journalism as a catalyst for economic empowerment, global awareness, and social change.” Hegranes and the organization which has so far trained and employed 114 women in 24 countries to be journalists are featured in a May 11, 2011 CBS News story and news clip.

Gender Equality Law Adopted by Mongolian Parliament

After two decades of fighting to pass a law on gender equality, Channel grantee partner the Mongolian Women’s Fund, leaders in a coalition of 17 women’s groups, announced that it was adopted by Parliament February 14, 2011. The aim of the new law is to ensure the equal participation of women and men in all political, legal, economic, cultural, and social spheres. The law prohibits any forms of discrimination in these spheres and in family relations. The law states that gender based violence and sexual harassment are forms of gender based discrimination.  Furthermore, the law explicitly states that employers must take preventive measures against all forms of sexual harassment (verbal, behavioral and physical) in the workplace and will create zero-tolerance attitudes toward sexual harassment in the workplace.


Amnesty International report documents increased sexual violence in Haiti’s camps

Amnesty International (AI) released a new report, Aftershocks: Women Speak Out Against Sexual Violence in Haiti’s Camps. One year on, rape survivors continue to arrive at the office of a local women’s support group almost every other day. Sexual violence was widespread in Haiti before January 2010 but this has been exacerbated by the conditions since the earthquake. AI’s report highlights how the lack of security and policing in and around the camps is a major factor for the increase in attacks over the past year. AI is calling for the new government to urgently take steps to end violence against women as part of a wider plan to address the humanitarian effort. The report states that women in the camps must be fully involved in developing any such plan.

10th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 : New Report on Women, Peace, and Security

On October 28, 2010, the Tenth Anniversary of the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the  International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) (one of our grantee partners) and the MIT Center for International Studies released an important new study, “What the Women Say: Participation and UNSCR 1325.” A landmark resolution passed unanimously, 1325 was the first to recognize “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building” and “the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.” The report, researched and written by Sanam Anderlini (ICAN), includes case studies from six countries (Liberia, Sri Lanka, Aceh, Israel/Palestine, Colombia and Uganda) and key recommendations. A critical aspect of the project was to return to women in conflict zones to “capture their voices and experiences regarding the relevance and impact of 1325 and related activities in their countries.” The report accuses donors of  “not practicing what they preach,” because they have failed to support and include women’s participation in peace-related activities. The report was profiled in articles (linked to here) by the Associated PressThe New York Times and Salon.

Landmark Law Addresses Sexual Violence Against Native Women

On July 29, 2010 President Obama signed the  Tribal Law and Order Act into law. This long-overdue piece of legislation provides landmark protection to Native American and Alaska Native women.  For more information on how the law will help tackle the problem of sexual violence by aiding prosecution and clearing up jurisdictional challenges, ensuring more services are available to Native American and Alaska Native women, and providing more resources for violence prevention, please read the following posting by Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women.

New Report on Gender Based Violence in Haiti

Channel Grantee Partner, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (along with several partners including Madre) released a major report July 27, 2010, the first of its kind to focus exclusively on the crisis of rape and other violence against Haitian women and girls. The report describes the prevalence of rape in displacement camps, and the failure of the Haitian government, the United Nations, and other members of the international community to mount an effective response. The report also gives voice to the many grassroots women leaders who are fighting for their right to live free from violence.

The report is called “Our Bodies Are Still Trembling: Haitian Women’s Fight Against Rape” and builds on some of the reporting and blogging done by Haiti expert Beverly Bell. To read more and download a copy of the report, please visit their website.

Campaign for U.S. ratification of the CEDAW Treaty on the Rights of Women

The CEDAW Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is leading a coalition effort (of 150 groups) to urge U.S. ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Treaty. CEDAW is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world. CEDAW strengthens the United States as a global leader in standing up for women and girls in countries around the world.

This international agreement offers countries a practical blueprint to achieve progress for women and girls by calling on each ratifying country to overcome barriers of discrimination in a range of areas, such as:

  • Violence against women and girls, to reduce sex trafficking and domestic violence;
  • Educational opportunities, for access to primary education and all vocational opportunities;
  • Political participation, including the right to vote, to serve on juries and to hold political office;
  • Marriage and family relations, bringing an end to forced marriages and ensuring that women have a right to inherit property;
  • Maternal health care services, providing access to basic health care so women and families can lead healthier lives; and
  • Economic participation, such as the ability to work and own a business without discrimination.

At present the U.S. is one of only seven countries, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and three small Pacific Island countries (Nauru, Palau and Tonga), that have not yet ratified CEDAW.  U.S. ratification of the treaty does not require any additional costs or new appropriations.

The campaign undertakes to ensure that the U.S. joins the community of nations championing gender equality. To learn more please visit the campaign website CEDAW2010.

In addition, the International Center for Research on Women has released a new report “Recognizing Rights Promoting Progress: The Global Impact of CEDAW” that describes some examples of the impact CEDAW has had around the world and focuses on select cases and countries where CEDAW ratification and implementation have led to concrete changes in the opportunities afforded to women and girls.


One in Nine Campaign Marches in Cape Town, South Africa

In conjunction with 800 participants from the AWID Forum on the Power of Movements, the One in Nine Campaign led a successful march through downtown Cape Town, South Africa (Nov. 15, 2008) in order to raise awareness of the high rates of sexual violence faced in South Africa, DRC and Zimbabwe. AWID stands for the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, a global women’s rights network. See an excellent video montage created by the Feminist Tech Exchange at the Forum.


Financial Sustainability for Women’s Movements Worldwide

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) published their 2007 Second Fundher Report, Financial Sustainability for Women’s Movements Worldwide, and it is available online for download. Building on the achievements/impact of their first Fundher Report, “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?,” this Report probes deeper into fundamental questions related to resource mobilization and movement-building. How are women’s organizations and movements growing worldwide? Why do we need strong women’s movements and organizations? Where is the money for women’s rights? How should we mobilize new resources to build stronger feminist movements in order to advance women’s rights worldwide?

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The UN General Assembly adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate (Sept. 13, 2007). For more information please visit the UN News Center article and a link to the text of the Declaration.

The International Indigenous Women’s Forum stated that “the adoption of the Declaration will allow Indigenous women and their families to infuse local human rights struggles with the power of international law and hold their governments accountable to international human rights standards.”

Maze of Injustice

According to Amnesty International’s report, “Maze of Injustice – The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA,” Native American and Alaska Native women in the United States suffer disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence, yet the federal government has created substantial barriers to accessing justice. In fact, the federal government’s jurisdictional maze and chronic under-funding of law enforcement and Indian Health Services mean justice denied for Native women. For more information about Amnesty International’s campaign to stop violence against Native American and Alaska Native women, please visit their campaign website.

Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) released a report, “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? Assessing the resources and the role of donors in the promotion of women’s rights and the support of women’s rights organizations.”

The report sums up the results of an action research project of AWID with Just Associates.


Shadow Report on Human Rights Violations in the U.S.

Under the main international human rights treaties that the U.S. has ratified, the government is obligated to report periodically to the UN’s Human Rights Committee on its compliance with the treaties. The U.S. submitted a report on October 21, 2005 which was reviewed during the Human Rights Committee’s July 2006 session. As part of the process, the UN allows NGOs to submit shadow reports to the Committee, to challenge the U.S. official report. In May, a coalition of 142 US-based non-profits and organizations and 32 individuals submitted a shadow report that is the most comprehensive review of human rights violations in the United States ever compiled. For more on the shadow report and on human rights in the U.S.,  please visit the U.S. Human Rights Network.

You can also download the section of the report on women’s human rights, the “Report on Women’s Human Rights in the United States Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (in response to the Second and Third Periodic Reports of the United States of America), United Nations Human Rights Committee, Eighty-seventh Session, July 2006, Geneva.”

Money and Movements

Channel grantee partner Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) convened an International Meeting on Money and Movements November 9-11, 2006 in Queretaro, Mexico as part pf their ongoing work around “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?” which ultimately became their Resourcing Women’s Rights Program.