Alda Facio, Costa Rican feminist jurist and Expert Member of the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice, co-founded the Women’s Human Rights Institute (WHRI) in 2004 with a clear intention: she wanted to offer a transformative, distinctively feminist human rights training program that would support women’s human rights defenders from around the world in their efforts to achieve substantial gender equality. She envisioned an educational space that supported global women’s movement-building, enhanced feminist learning of women’s human rights, and facilitated an in-depth understanding of the UN human rights instruments and mechanisms, notably the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). But above all, she hoped to provide an environment in which our world’s women’s human rights defenders could feel nurtured, valued and supported…where they could experience a brief respite from the daily adversity they face and return home rejuvenated and newly inspired.
And that’s exactly what was created. Since its establishment, the WHRI has trained more than 500 women’s human rights defenders from around the world to utilize CEDAW as a tool for activism and education, and also as a visionary feminist framework for personal, communal and social change. Many of the participants have gone on to make significant impacts in their communities, regions and at the international level. You can find out about some of them on our website at www.learnwhr.org.
The WHRI team has worked incredibly hard over the past more than decade to ensure the sustainability of the institute. However, this has become increasingly difficult. The struggle for women’s human rights continues within a global context of increasing conservatism and backlash against hard won gains. As a result of this climate, finding funding for visionary, feminist women’s human rights work such as that of the WHRI is an increasing challenge. We are trying to find new and creative ways to sustain this vital work, and to make it possible for women, particularly those from the Global South, to be able to participate in the WHRI without barriers.
We are thus appealing to our supporters and to all those who stand in solidarity with women’s human rights defenders to contribute to our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. All of the funds will go directly to providing scholarships and travel support for applicants who would not be able to participate in our programs without financial support. As more and more groups of women begin to use CEDAW for their struggles, notably LBT women, indigenous women and many other groups that did not traditionally have access to international fora, we need the funds in place to continue building capacity to work with, claim and redefine human rights mechanisms according to diverse women’s needs and lived realities.
Any amount of contribution you make will go a long way to ensuring that participants accepted to our 2015 programs can attend, and to letting these women know that the international community stands alongside them.
If you are unable to contribute financially but would like to support this campaign and the work of WHRI, there are many ways to help:
- Share our campaign link with your friends, family, colleagues and other networks via email, social media or by word of mouth.
- Tell people about the institute by sharing our website, Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube channel.
- Volunteer your time and services to support the institute’s work. Get in touch to find out how you can get involved.
- Join one of our programs! We’d love to see you at our next WHRI Intensive or CEDAW for Change Institute.
Last but not least, we want you to know that your support means the world to us, and that your commitment to women’s human rights and substantial gender equality is deeply appreciated.
The WHRI Team