Priority Areas

Supporting feminist, women’s rights and gender justice movements to thrive, to be a driving force in challenging systems of oppression, and to co-create feminist realities.

Building Feminist Economies

Building Feminist Economies is about creating a world with clean air to breath and water to drink, with meaningful labour and care for ourselves and our communities, where we can all enjoy our economic, sexual and political autonomy.


In the world we live in today, the economy continues to rely on women’s unpaid and undervalued care work for the profit of others. The pursuit of “growth” only expands extractivism - a model of development based on massive extraction and exploitation of natural resources that keeps destroying people and planet while concentrating wealth in the hands of global elites. Meanwhile, access to healthcare, education, a decent wage and social security is becoming a privilege to few. This economic model sits upon white supremacy, colonialism and patriarchy.

Adopting solely a “women’s economic empowerment approach” is merely to integrate women deeper into this system. It may be a temporary means of survival. We need to plant the seeds to make another world possible while we tear down the walls of the existing one.


We believe in the ability of feminist movements to work for change with broad alliances across social movements. By amplifying feminist proposals and visions, we aim to build new paradigms of just economies.

Our approach must be interconnected and intersectional, because sexual and bodily autonomy will not be possible until each and every one of us enjoys economic rights and independence. We aim to work with those who resist and counter the global rise of the conservative right and religious fundamentalisms as no just economy is possible until we shake the foundations of the current system.


Our Actions

Our work challenges the system from within and exposes its fundamental injustices:

  • Advance feminist agendas: We counter corporate power and impunity for human rights abuses by working with allies to ensure that we put forward feminist, women’s rights and gender justice perspectives in policy spaces. For example, learn more about our work on the future international legally binding instrument on “transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights” at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

  • Mobilize solidarity actions: We work to strengthen the links between feminist and tax justice movements, including reclaiming the public resources lost through illicit financial flows (IFFs) to ensure social and gender justice.

  • Build knowledge: We provide women human rights defenders (WHRDs) with strategic information vital to challenge corporate power and extractivism. We will contribute to build the knowledge about local and global financing and investment mechanisms fuelling extractivism.

  • Create and amplify alternatives: We engage and mobilize our members and movements in visioning feminist economies and sharing feminist knowledges, practices and agendas for economic justice.


“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing”.

Arundhati Roy, War Talk

Related Content

Laura Lee

Laura was a leading activist and lawyer who campaigned fearlessly for the decriminalisation of sex work in Ireland.

She is remembered as “a freedom fighter for sex workers, a feminist, a mother to a daughter and a needed friend to many.” 

Laura advocated for individuals in the sex industry to be recognised as workers deserving of rights. She advanced demands for decriminalisation, including initiating a judicial review at Belfast’s high court in respect of the provisions criminalising the purchase of sex.  Laura stated that her intention was to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

 


 

Laura Lee, Ireland

40 Years of AWID: The Scrapbook

Gather, Seed, and Disrupt.

In 2022, AWID celebrates 40 years since our founding. We’re using this moment to reflect on our past and learn from the road traveled as we prepare to look forward, and to forge the journey ahead. As we move through cycles of progress and pushback, we know that struggles for women’s rights and gender justice are iterative and non-linear. In collaboration with artist Naadira Patel, we created a scrapbook that highlights a handful of snapshots from AWID’s last four decades of feminist movement support.

We have not done all this on our own. We share this with deep appreciation for the constellation of feminist activists and groups that have made this work possible. In this context of so many converging crises, we embrace the opportunity to celebrate the power and resilience of feminist movements around the world.

Explore our scrapbook below:

You can also explore in full-screen mode.

Download the Scrapbook

Ottilie Abrahams

Ottilie was a Namibian feminist activist, educator and politician.

Ottilie was one of the founders of the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO), the Yu Chi Chan Club (an armed revolutionary group); and the South West African National Liberation Front (SWANLIF). She was also a founder of the Namibian Women’s Association and Girl Child Project.

Throughout her life, Ottilie argued for the right to argue, think, contest, and demand. She mobilized women, organized students and teachers and criticized other comrades for their elitism and their corruption.

Ottilie worked ferociously to dismantle patriarchy, and to create a concrete transformative, liberatory, feminist participatory democracy.

Ottilie often said: “I will rest the day I die.”


 

Ottilie Abrahams, Namibia

رسالة حب إلى الحركات النسوية # 6

عن الحب لحركة

Kraft paper envelop that says Love letters to feminist movements from Sara AbuGhazal

هكذا تبدأ الحركات
أشباحا تطردنا من البيت والعائلة والوطن
فنصل متعبات إلى مساحة (أيضا مكان) وغالبا حالة
وصلت إليها قبلنا نجمة سقطت
ربما نصل أكثر من متعبات
مذعورات
ربما أكثر من مذعورات نصل
غاضبات
من أمور لا تنفك تعيد نفسها
طعنة في القلب (أيضا كسور) 
رصاصة في الظهر (أيضا خيانة)
اختفاء قسري
جسد محكوم عليه بزواج أو تشويه أو تعب مزمن
لكننا حين نصل نتجمع ونهمس ونبوح وننوح
هكذا تبدأ حركاتنا، حين نصل إلى الأخريات
فنصبح بذورا
هكذا تبدأ الحركات، حين نزرع بعضا زهورا وأيضا أشواكا وأيضا ثمارا
نحن واحات
لنا كلنا نصنع منها ما نشاء
أغنيات للمعارك
وصفات للشفاء
مخازن لوجوه عشيقاتنا وشكل ابتسامتهن وضحكة انتصاراتهن اليومية
السر لتحويل الصمت الى لغة
تعاليم كل الساحرات
هكذا تكون حركاتنا: لنا كلنا
حين نصل بذورا فنزهر. 

سرى أبو غزال
www.badiya.blog

Carmen de la Cruz

Carmen had a long career advocating for women’s rights both in NGOs and within the United Nations (UN) system.  

She taught courses in several Spanish and Latin American universities, and published numerous articles and reports on women, gender and peace in developing countries.

Her writing and critical reflections have impacted a whole generation of young women. In her last years, she was responsible for the Gender Practice Area in the Regional Center of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for Latin America, from where she supported very valuable initiatives in favour of gender equality and women's human rights.


 

Carmen de la Cruz, Argentina/ Spain

Coming Out at the Highest Point in My Life: The Black Feminisms Forum

Cover image for Coming Out at the Highest Point in My Life: The Black Feminisms Forum

 

 

Many participants experience the AWID Forums as a unique space of freedom where they are embraced and celebrated as they are. In a world where even the most privileged feminists often find themselves not fully fitting in, for those whose identities are criminalized or otherwise condemned in their everyday contexts this experience of freedom and celebration can be deeply transformative (and restorative). The story of how OluTimehin Kukoyi – a first time participant – experienced the Black Feminist Forum (BFF) and the AWID Forum in Bahia (2016) powerfully illustrates this.

Download this story


In their own voice: watch the interview with OluTimehin


View all stories Download Full Report

Bessy Ferrera

Bessy Ferrera was a lifelong defender of the human rights of trans people, sex workers and HIV positive people in Honduras.

Bessy was also a member of Arcoíris, an organisation which supports the LGBTI+ community. She was also a focal point person for the Right Here, Right Now (Derechos aquí y Ahora) Platform of Honduras, and advocated strongly for full citizenship of trans people, and the passing of a gender identity law that would allow trans people to change their gender identity legally.

"Since the beginning of the year [2019] the trans community has been suffering a series of attacks, for defending, for demanding rights." - Rihanna Ferrera (Bessy’s sister)

Bessy was a sex worker, and in early July 2019, was shot to death by two men while working in the streets of Comayagüela. Her assailants were subsequently arrested. 

Bessy is one of many LGBTI+ rights defenders in Honduras, who were murdered because of their identities and work. Other companeras include: Cynthia Nicole, Angy Ferreira, Estefania "Nia" Zuniga, Gloria Carolina Hernandez Vasquez, Paola Barraza, Violeta Rivas, and Sherly Montoya.

Bessy’s case is emblematic of injustice and a much larger problem of the systematic violence the LGBTI+ community faces in Honduras as the state fails to guarantee rights offer and fails to offer protection. This has created a culture of impunity.

Despite the risks LGBTI+ defenders in Honduras face, they continue their work to challenge and resist violence, and fight stigma and discrimination on a daily basis. 

“If I die, let it be for something good not for something futile. I don’t want to die running away, being a coward. If I die, I want people to say that I died fighting for what is mine.” - member of Arcoíris 

Doris Valenzuela Angulo

Doris Valenzuela Angulo was an Afro-descendant social activist, leader and human rights defender from Buenaventura, Colombia. She was part of Communities Building Peace in the Territories (CONPAZ), a national network of organizations in communities affected by armed conflict that advocate for non-violence and socio-environmental justice. 

Doris defied constant paramilitary violence and pressures from mega projects to displace her community and state collusion. Faced with one of the most difficult contexts in her country, she played a leadership role in an unprecedented initiative of non-violent resistance called Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space, an urban place for community cohesion, safety, creativity and collective action. 

This unique non-violent struggle of the families that belonged to Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space, attracted attention and support from both local and international agencies. By September 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had granted precautionary protection measures to the community ordering the Colombian State to adopt necessary measures to preserve their lives and personal integrity. However, the threats and violence from the paramilitaries continued. Doris focused her energies on preventing forced recruitment of children and young people by the neo-paramilitaires, continuing on despite the murder of her son Cristian Dainer Aragón Valenzuela in July 2015. Doris also became a target, continuously receiving threats for her activism and the work she did.  

The continued aggression and threats against her life forced Doris to leave Colombia. She was residing in Spain from February 2017 to February 2018, as part of the Amnesty International temporary protection program for human rights defenders at risk. In April 2018, Doris was murdered in Murcia, Spain by her ex-partner. She was only 39 years old. 


Tributes:

"Doris, spending a whole year with you has taught us how a person can have the ability to transform and generate hope in the face of deeply negative and devastating events during your life...We continue with our commitment in the defense of all human rights. Your courage and your light will always guide us.” - Montserrat Román, Amnesty International Grupo La Palma

Excerpt from “Words for Doris Valenzuela Angulo” by Elsa López

"..You knew it. You always knew. And in spite of everything you stood firm against so many injustices, so many miseries, so much persecution. You stood up, haughty and fierce, against those who wanted to make you again abandon your hopes, humble yourself and surrender. Standing up you cried out for your freedom and ours that was yours. Nothing and no one paralyzed your efforts to change the world and make it more generous and livable. You, live among us, more alive today than ever among us despite death. Always live by your gestures, your courage, your greatness when crying for a promised land that you came to invoke with each of your cries for all the deserts you inhabited. You. Always alive. Doris Valenzuela Angulo.

They are only words. I know. I know it too. But the words unite us, protect us, give us strength and encouragement to continue walking towards the light that you defended so much…” 

Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre

Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre was a much loved young feminist artist and activist from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, known for her beautiful and evocative hand-painted clothing with eyes being an emblematic feature in her work. Her murals transformed the run down and vacant buildings in Ciudad Juarez’s downtown, bringing life and political commentary to their walls.

Through her art and political activism Isabel sought to draw attention to the gender based violence pervasive in her hometown. She volunteered with the women’s network Mesa de Mujeres on the Citizen Observatory on Gender to monitor the performance of judges, prosecutors and public defenders on cases of femicides and other gender based violations. She was also a member of Hijas de su Maquilera Madre, a feminist collective whose name makes reference to the daughters of mothers who are maquila workers. Some of these mothers were among the first victims of femicide in the city.

Isabel’s latest project, still in progress, was an art installation to protest a Canadian company that was looking to mine copper in the Samalayuca Desert. 

On 18 January, 2020 Isabel was shot while riding her bike back home in Downtown Juárez, in what appeared to be a targeted killing, her body found beside her bike.

Isabel’s murder, sparked a new wave of outrage against femicides in the region, hundreds marched to the US-Mexico border bridge, blocking it for hours and chanting “Ni una mas” (Not one more) as feminist collectives continue to protest the murders of women throughout Mexico. In 2019 alone, 3142 women and girls were killed in Mexico, many of whom were targeted specifically because of their gender.

She loved riding her bike.

"The bike for her was a symbol of freedom. A symbol of being free in the streets." - Marisol (a friend of Isabel’s)  

Snippet FEA Trans and Travesti people (EN)

This image represents a faceless person with short dark hair, and dark skin, with a navy blue shirt, and yellow sweater, working behind a burgundy sewing machine on a navy blue piece of fabric

THE TRANS EMPLOYMENT QUOTA
sanctioned by law is not being respected by companies and employers

Snippet FEA collaborator and allies Photo 2 (EN)

The photo on depicts eight women standing together during a protest. Many are holding banners while Sopo is holding the megaphone close to the mouth of a woman worker with short red hair, wearing a white scarf and a black coat reading a manifesto.