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.

Co-Creating Feminist Realities

While we dream of a feminist world, there are those who are already building and living it. These are our Feminist Realities!

What are Feminist Realities?

Feminist Realities are the living, breathing examples of the just world we are co-creating. They exist now, in the many ways we live, struggle and build our lives.

Feminist Realities go beyond resisting oppressive systems to show us what a world without domination, exploitation and supremacy look like.

These are the narratives we want to unearth, share and amplify throughout this Feminist Realities journey.

Transforming Visions into Lived Experiences

Through this initiative, we:

  • Create and amplify alternatives: We co-create art and creative expressions that center and celebrate the hope, optimism, healing and radical imagination that feminist realities inspire.

  • Build knowledge: We document, demonstrate & disseminate methodologies that will help identify the feminist realities in our diverse communities.

  • Advance feminist agendas: We expand and deepen our collective thinking and organizing to advance just solutions and systems that embody feminist values and visions.

  • Mobilize solidarity actions: We engage feminist, women’s rights and gender justice movements and allies in sharing, exchanging and jointly creating feminist realities, narratives and proposals at the 14th AWID International Forum.

The AWID International Forum

As much as we emphasize the process leading up to, and beyond, the four-day Forum, the event itself is an important part of where the magic happens, thanks to the unique energy and opportunity that comes with bringing people together.

We expect the next Forum to:

  • Build the power of Feminist Realities, by naming, celebrating, amplifying and contributing to build momentum around experiences and propositions that shine light on what is possible and feed our collective imaginations

  • Replenish wells of hope and energy as much needed fuel for rights and justice activism and resilience

  • Strengthen connectivity, reciprocity and solidarity across the diversity of feminist movements and with other rights and justice-oriented movements

Learn more about the Forum process

We are sorry to announce that the 14th AWID International Forum is cancelled

Given the current world situation, our Board of Directors has taken the difficult decision to cancel Forum scheduled in 2021 in Taipei. 

Read the full announcement

Find out more!

Related Content

Remembering: A Tribute to WHRDs no longer with us

AWID honors feminists and Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) who have died and whose contributions to the advancement of human rights are very much missed.

Celebrating Activists and WHRDs

AWID’s WHRD Tribute is a photo exhibition featuring feminist, women’s rights and social justice activists from around the world who are no longer with us. 

The Tribute was first launched in 2012, at AWID’s 12th International Forum, in Turkey. It took shape with a physical exhibit of portraits and biographies of feminists and activists who passed away. The initiative was described by Forum participants as being a unique, moving and energizing way to commemorate our collective history.

At the 13th International Forum in Brazil, we honored activists and WHRDs with a mural unveiling ceremony in four languages, a dance performance and a Brazilian ritual.

In between the events, the Tribute lives as an online gallery that is updated every year as part of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (25 November – 10 December).

Contributions from all over the world

Since 2012, through our annual Tribute to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) no longer with us, over 400 feminists and WHRDs from 11 regions and 80 countries have been featured. 

AWID would like to thank the families and organizations who shared their personal stories and contributed to this memorial. We join them in continuing the remarkable work of these women and forging efforts to ensure justice is achieved in cases that remain in impunity.

Visit the WHRD Tribute online exhibit

The violence and threaths against WHRDs persist

In addition to paying homage to these incredible activists, the Tribute particularly sheds light on the plight of WHRDs who have been assassinated or disappeared.

One third of those featured in the Tribute were activists who have been murdered or disappeared in suspicious circumstances. They were specifically targeted for who they were and the work they did to challenge: 

  • State power
  • Heteronormativity
  • Fundamentalisms
  • Corporations
  • Patriarchy
  • Organized Crime
  • Corruption
  • Militarization…

Women like Agnes Torres, from Mexico, was killed because of her gender identity and sexual orientation; or Cheryl Ananayo, an environmental activist from the Philippines was assassinated as she struggled against a mining company; or Ruqia Hassan, a Syrian independent journalist and blogger killed for her criticism of ISIS. And so many others.

With the WHRD Tribute, we bring them all into our collective memory and carry their legacy of struggle as our torch in the feminists’ and women’s rights movements. We recognize that security, safety and self-care must be a priority in all our political agendas. And we call on to governments and international bodies to collectively address violence against feminists and WHRDs.

We believe this is a critical step to ensure the sustainability of our movements for gender equality, women’s rights, and justice for all.

Visit the WHRD Tribute online exhibit

Lorena Borjas

Lorena Borjas, a trans Latina woman and activist, lived and worked in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York City. In those streets, she looked after her community for years, advocating for trans and immigrant rights, supporting survivors of human trafficking and abuse, campaigning for sex workers’ rights and those of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Lorena was strong and tireless in her fight to support, defend, and have the back of those most marginalized and discriminated by transphobia, misogyny and racism. 

“She pushed us to shine authentically, to become a scream of subversion that says, ‘I am here, and I deserve happiness, too.’” - Cecilia Gentili, a trans activist and Lorena’s friend

Having faced numerous traumas and hardships herself, as a trans immigrant woman and victim of human trafficking, Lorena pulled knowledge and emotional memory from the well of her experiences in order to help build and strengthen the community she was part of and which was part of her. Some of the ways she did this was to organize and mobilize support ranging from providing condoms and connecting trans women to different services, to setting up an HIV testing clinic in her own home. 

"She was such a beautiful soul who helped others when her journey was difficult and painful as an immigrant, as a trans immigrant. She believed the trans community needed love, acceptance, and compassion, and she gave it all.” - Luchia Dragosh, QPTV Supervising producer of a documentary about Lorena 

In more than 25 years of activism, she also founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund together with Chase Strangio (lawyer and trans rights activist). The Fund helps the many different members of her community (and especially trans persons) dealing with immigration challenges to avoid the cycle of arrest-jail-deportation. 

Lorena passed away in March 2020 of complications from COVID-19. 

Her enormous and beautiful legacy will be taken forward through the streets of Queens by the network and community she co-created. 

“We will pick up her work where she left it, work that is essential to the well-being of “mis pajaras” as she called the trans girls of Queens under her wing.” - Cecilia Gentili 


"Lorena brought light to us when we were living through a very dark time here in New York. She brought us light when we were dealing with the crack epidemic, when we were dealing with the AIDS crisis, dealing with changes in immigration policies." - Cristina Herrera, founder and CEO of Translatina Network and Lorena’s friend

"Lorena has done more than anyone else I know to shine a light on the epidemic of trafficking in transgender communities and to help other trans women escape exploitation."  - Lynly Egyes (represented Borjas on behalf of the Transgender Law Center)

Watch a documentary about Lorena Borjas 

Read a postscript in The New Yorker about Lorena Borjas 

Read an opinion piece in the New York Times by Cecilia Gentilin

Advancing Movements

6 Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) across Western and Southeastern Europe have in their lifetime researched, campaigned, participated in and advanced peace and women’s rights movements be it through political and social activism or through dance. We are grateful for the legacy they have left. Please join AWID in honoring these women, their activism and legacy by sharing the memes below with your colleagues, networks and friends and by using the hashtags #WHRDTribute and #16Days.

Please click on each image below to see a larger version and download as a file



Where does the project come from?

We believe that the economy, the market, the financial system and the premises upon which they are built are critical areas of feminist struggle. Thus, our vision for a just economy goes beyond promoting women’s rights and empowerment in the market, to evaluating the role of gendered oppressions in shaping economic arrangements and transforming these to ensure gender and economic justice.


We are neither starting from zero, nor alone in this attempt to put forward feminist propositions for a just economy.  Many of the propositions herein have been advanced or exist in practice within diverse communities challenging and resisting the mainstream market and growth-based economic systems.

It is also very important to note that there is growing awareness of the fact that micro solutions are not always the answer to macro problems, even if they represent important spaces for resistance and movement building and that there may be limitations to particular alternatives to address the injustices of the current capitalist system at a global scale.


However, feminist alternatives for a just economy are critical to create dents in the system and draw lessons for transformative systemic change. Here we cannot presume to offer a comprehensive nor a complete account on how to create a just feminist economic model, or even models. But we can, but rather draw from cross-movement dialogue with trade unions, environmental, rural and peasants movements, to articulate the propositions for the journey towards this vision.

What do we want to change?

The neoliberal model driving the global economy has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to address the root causes of poverty, inequalities, and exclusion. Neoliberalism, and has in fact contributed to the very creation and exacerbation of these injustices.

Characterized by globalisation, liberalization, privatisation, financialisation and conditional aid, mainstream development policies over the past 3 decades have wreaked havoc on livelihoods over the past 3 decades. These policies have also sustained a trajectory of deepening inequalities, gendered injustices, and environmental destruction that the world can no longer afford to endure.

While there are people those who assert that economic growth, facilitated by giving free reign to corporations and businesses, can sustain a tide that will (eventually) raise all boats.

However, the notion of development that has prevailed for the past decades, built for the most part upon the premise of limitless economic growth, is going through an ideological crisis.

The myth of economic growth as a panacea for our problems is being debunked.

See also

Our vision

5 Major Threats


Key impacts on the international human rights system

Anti-rights actors have had a substantive impact on our human rights framework and the progressive interpretation of human rights standards, especially rights related to gender and sexuality.

When it comes to the impact of conservative actors in international policy spaces, the overall picture today is of stasis and regressions.

We have witnessed the watering down of existing agreements and commitment; deadlock in negotiations; sustained undermining of UN agencies, treaty review bodies and Special Procedures; and success in pushing through regressive language in international human rights documents.

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

The CSW, held annually in March, has long been one of the most contested sites in the UN system. In March 2015, conservative efforts set the tone before events or negotiations even began; the outcome document of the Commission was a weak Declaration negotiated before any women’s rights activists even arrived on the ground.

At 2016’s CSW, the new Youth Caucus was infiltrated by large numbers of vocal anti-abortion and anti-SRHR actors, who shouted down progressive youth organizations. Again, intensive negotiations resulted in a lacklustre text, which included regressive language on ‘the family.’

Precisely when addressing women’s human rights is of urgent importance, the CSW has been rendered a depoliticized and weakened space. Using it to advance rights has become harder and harder since progressives’ energy is taken up trying to hold the ground against conservative backlash.

Human Rights Council (HRC)

As the intergovernmental body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, the HRC is a key entry point for conservative actors. In recent years, this mechanism has been the scene for a number of damaging anti-human rights moves.

In conversation with other anti-rights actors, one strategy of conservative states, and blocs of states, is to aggressively negotiate out positive language and to introduce hostile amendments to resolutions, most often resolutions focusing on rights related to gender and sexuality.

To take one example, during the June 2016 session of the HRC, opposition was mounted towards a resolution on discrimination against women by the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and allies. During contentious negotiations, multiple provisions were removed, including women’s and girls’ right to have control over their sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights; and the need to repeal laws which perpetuate the patriarchal oppression of women and girls in families, and those criminalizing adultery or pardoning marital rape.

The HRC has also been the site of pernicious conservative initiatives to co-opt human rights norms and enact conservative “human rights” language, such as that of the Russia-led “traditional values” resolutions, and more recently the “Protection of the Family” agenda.

Human Rights Committee

In 2015, moving their sights to another front, a number of religious right organizations began to target the Human Rights Committee, the treaty monitoring body for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a pivotal human rights instrument.

Anti-human rights groups mobilized in hopes of cementing their anti-abortion rhetoric into the treaty.

When the Committee announced it was drafting a new authoritative interpretation of the right to life, over 30 conservative non-state actors sent in written submissions, advocating their misleading discourse on ‘right to life’ - that life begins at conception and that abortion is a violation of the right - be incorporated in the Committee’s interpretation of article 6.

Conservative groups targeting the Human Rights Committee was a shift considering that historically anti-human rights actors have repeatedly attempted to undermine and invalidate the essential work of the treaty monitoring bodies, including the Human Rights Committee.

SDG negotiations and Agenda 2030

Anti-human rights actors were involved in lobbying towards the development of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, focusing again on rights relating to gender and sexuality. These efforts had limited traction in their attempts to embed regressive language in Agenda 2030.

However, after successfully pushing back against progressive language in the final text, conservative actors then pivoted to another strategy. In an attempt to evade state accountability and undermine the universality of rights, several states have repeatedly made reservations to the Goals.

On behalf of the African Group, Senegal claimed that African states would only “implement the goals in line with the cultural and religious values of its countries.”

The Holy See also made a number of reservations, stating it was “confident that the related pledge ‘no one will be left behind’ would be read” as meaning “the right to life of the person, from conception until natural death.”

Saudi Arabia went one step further, declaring that the country would not follow any international rules relating to the SDGs that reference sexual orientation or gender identity, describing them as running “counter to Islamic law.”

General Assembly (GA)

Anti-rights actors have made increasing headway at the UN General Assembly (GA).  Most recently, during the 71st session in 2016, the GA was the scene of feverish anti-rights organizing in opposition to the new mandate created by the Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity in June 2016: the Independent Expert on SOGI. Four separate attempts were made to undercut the mandate in GA spaces.

One approach was to introduce a hostile resolution at the Third Committee[1], led by the African Group, which in essence aimed to indefinitely defer the new mandate. While this approach was not successful, such an attempt in the GA to retroactively block the creation of a mandate brought forward by the Human Rights Council represented a new and troubling tactic - anti-right actors are now working to directly undermine the HRC’s authority respective to the General Assembly.

Another approach targeted the Fifth Committee (responsible for administration and budgetary matters) as an entry point to attack the mandate. In an unprecedented move a number of States attempted (again, unsuccessfully) to block the funding of UN human rights experts, including the new IE on SOGI[2],.

While these multiple efforts were unsuccessful in blocking the creation and continuation of the new mandate, the significant support they received, the novel strategizing employed, and the strong alliances built along regional lines through negotiations point to difficulties ahead.

[1] The Third Committee of the GA deals with agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs, and human rights issues.  Each year it discusses and issues resolutions on issues including the advancement of women, the protection of children, family, and youth.

[2] While UN Special Procedures experts (i.e. Special Rapporteurs, Working Group members and Independent Experts) work pro bono, some funds are generally allocated to facilitate country visits on the invitation of the national government, and support staff.


Other Chapters

Read the full report

Here are your report and infographics: Toward a feminist funding ecosystem

Kunyit Asam: The Roots of Love and Resilience

By Prinka Saraswati, Gianyar, Bali

The menstrual cycle usually lasts between 27 and 30 days. During this time, the period itself would only go on for five to seven days. During the period, fatigue, mood swings, and cramps are the result of inflammation.

In traditional Javanese culture, this is the moment for women to rest and take care of themselves. During this moment, a woman would take Kunyit Asam, a jamu or herbal drink to soothe the inflammation. This elixir consists of turmeric and tamarind boiled together in a pot.

I still remember my first period - it was one day before graduation day in elementary school. I remember pedaling my bike feeling something warm running between my thighs. When I arrived home I did all I could to clean myself and then put on a menstrual pad. My mother came home from work about four hours later. I told her what had happened. She looked me in the eye and asked how I felt. I told her that it was painful, that my body was swollen in every place. Then she asked me to go with her to the backyard. I followed her to our little jungle, my mother sat down on the soil and smiled.

“See this slender leaf? This is the leaf of Kunyit, *empon-empon that leaves the yellow stain on your fingers. What’s most important is not the leaf, but the roots. You dig the soil and slowly grab the roots.”, my mother showed me how to pick Kunyit or Turmeric roots. Then we went to the kitchen where she boiled water along with some tamarind. While waiting for it to boil, she showed me how to wash and grate the orangey-yellow root. Then, we put the grated turmeric into the boiling tamarind water. “Tomorrow, you can make it for yourself. This will help you to feel better!”.

I remember the first time I tasted it - a slightly bitter taste but also sour. My mother always served it warm. She would also put some in a big bottle which I would place on my stomach or lower back for further relief. For days after, my mother’s hands and mine were yellow. My friends could always tell every time I got period because my hands would be yellow.

A year after my first period, I found out that you could get the bottled version in convenience stores. Still, I made my own Kunyit Asam every time I had my period because the one in the convenience stores was cold. It did not smell of wet soil and warm kitchen.

Fast forward, I am a 26 year old woman who casually makes this drink for friends when they have their periods. I’ve made some for my housemates and I’ve delivered some for friends who live in different towns. I do not grow turmeric roots in my garden, but I have grown and shared the love from my mom. What was once from garden to cup is now from *pasar to cup.

A couple of days ago, I asked my mother who taught her how to make the jamu.

“Who else? Yang Ti*! Your grandmother was not just a teacher”, said my mom. I was never close to my grandmother. She passed away when I was eight. All I knew from my mom was that she was a math teacher who had to teach courses after work. I had this image of my grandmother as a hard worker who was kind of distant with her children. My mom did not disagree with that but explained it came from her survival instinct as a mother. “She tried to make time. She tried. She taught me how to make jamu so I could take care of myself and my sisters”.

My mother is the second child out of seven, six of whom are girls. The reason my grandmother taught her is so that all of her children could take care of each other. While my mother was taught how to make the drink, my mother’s older sister was taught how to plant turmeric. Yang Ti knew which one loved the smell of soil more and which one loved the smell of the kitchen. My mother was the latter. She learned how to plant from my aunt, her older sister.

My grandfather worked in a bank but he got laid off when he was in his 40s. So, my grandmother had to do a side-hustle to support their children. My mother was in high school at that time when Yang Ti woke her and her older sister up at dawn. “Would you help me to pick some roots?”. Of course nobody said no. Especially if it was your mother, especially if you were born in Javanese culture where saying “no” sounded like a bad word. Together, the three of them went to the backyard, and they harvested empon - empon, rhizome, that was buried inside the soil. She grew many kinds of rhizome; temu lawak, temu putih, ginger, galangal, kunci, kencur, and kunyit. That was the day where my mother realized that her mother was never far away from her.

That was the day where she could spend more time with her mother. There, in the garden. There, in the kitchen.

“We’re sending these for Ibu Darti, the lady who lives across the river. Kunyit Asam for her and her daughters.”, said my grandmother to my mother and my aunt that day. They poured the Turmeric-Tamarind warm drink into a tall thermos and later my grandmother would deliver it on the way to school.

Over time, my grandmother got more orders for jamu. Everybody in the family helped her to make and deliver her jamu. The small business lasted only a few years, but that was what paid for my mother and her siblings’ education.

Today, my mother, who got laid off just a few days before I wrote this piece, harvested Turmeric and other roots. She’s making her Turmeric Tamarind drink from her kitchen.

My phone rang in the middle of this afternoon, a couple minutes after I boiled the rest of my grated turmeric. Today is one day after my period.

“Ingka, have you washed your pot after boiling those turmeric? It would forever be yellow if you don’t wash it right away!”

  • *empon-empon = roots like ginger, turmeric, etc. coming from the Javanese word “Empu” which means, something or someone that has deep knowledge.

  • *jamu = Indonesia’s traditional elixir made of roots, barks, flowers, seeds, leaves, and fruits.

  • *Yang Ti = Javanese term for grandmother, taken from the term “Eyang Putri” the female you look up to.

  • *pasar = the word for traditional market in Indonesian.


“Feminist Movement”

by Karina Tungari, Hamburg, Germany  (@_katung_)

The more women support other women, the quicker we’ll see progress. Together we are stronger and make even more impact.

Karina Tungari, Hamburg, Germany  (@_katung_)


Tenderness is the Sharpest Resistance

A Film Series on Asian/Pacific Feminist Realities 

Curated by Jess X. Snow With assistance from Kamee Abrahamian and Zoraida Ingles 

Across Asia and the Pacific, and all of it’s vast diaspora, fierce women and trans folks have been fighting for a future where they can all be free. As rising sea levels threaten the Pacific islands, and the coasts of continental Asia, the fight to protect other Earth and the Ocean intensifies all over the globe. Our planet stores a geologic memory of everything that it has experienced. The rise of colonization, industrialization, and environmental destruction is connected to the rise of the binary patriarchal nation state. The power within the Earth, to reincarnate, heal, and bloom in the face of violence, must then be connected to the woman, to motherhood, to indigeneity and all forces that are expansive, sacred and queer. It is no coincidence that Feminist Realities unite the fight to protect the rights of women, trans and LGBTQ+ people with the fight to protect the Earth. From mother-daughter protectors of Mauna Kea in the Kingdom of Hawaii, to the complex mother-child relationships of Vietnamese refugees, to queer sexual awakenings in conservative India, the reclaimation of home in Inner Mongolia, to the struggle toward LGBTQ liberation in the Phillipines -- this collection of films is a cosmology of the ways current-day Asian Pacific women and queer and trans folks champion the journey to our collective liberation across oceans and borders. 

All of these films have a strong sense of place: indigenous activists protect their sacred lands, youth peel back colonial narratives of their homeland to uncover hidden truths, complex motherhood and relations of care are explored, and characters turn to their own bodies and sexuality as sanctuary when the family and city that surrounds them threaten their safety. 


By Jess X. Snow

“A haunting film with stunning shots invoking feminist environmental resistance and how deeply rooted this is in connection to cultural history and land…”
    - Jessica Horn, PanAfrican feminst strategist, writer and co-creator of the temple of her skin

In the experimental documentary, Afterearth, four women fight to preserve the volcano, ocean, land and air for future generations. Through music, poetry, and heartfelt testimonial that honors locations touched by the Pacific Ocean–Hawaiʻi, the Philippines, China, and North America, Afterearth is a poetic meditation on four women’s intergenerational and feminist relationship to the lands and plants they come from.


By Jalena Keane Lee

In Standing Above the Clouds, Native Hawaiian mother-daughter activists stand together to protect their sacred mountain, Mauna Kea from being used as a site to build one of the world’s largest telescopes. As protectors of Mauna Kea, this film highlights the interconnected relationship between Aloha ʻĀina (love of the land) and love for one’s elders and the future generations to come.


By Quyên Nguyen-Le

In the experimental narrative short, Nước (Water/Homeland) a Vietnamese-American genderqueer teen challenges dominant narratives of the Vietnam War in Los Angeles, California. Through striking dream sequences and breaks from reality, this film follows their journey to piece together and understand their mother's experience as a Vietnam War refugee. 


By Kimi Lee

In Kama’āina, a queer sixteen-year-old girl must navigate life on the streets in Oahu, until she eventually finds refuge by  way of guidance from an auntie at Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae–Hawaiʻi’s largest organized homeless encampment. 


By Karishma Dev Dube

In Devi (goddess in Hindi) a young closeted lesbian, Tara risks both family and tradition to embrace her attraction to her family’s maid. Set in New Delhi, Devi is a coming of age story, as it is a commentary on the social and class lines that divide women in contemporary India today.


By Yuan Yuan

In Heading South, Chasuna, an 8 year old girl, raised by her mother in the Inner Mongolian Plateau, visits her abusive father in the big city. While at her father’s house, she is introduced to a new addition to the family, and must come to terms with the fact that her true home is inseparable from her mother and land.


By Johnny Symons & S. Leo Chiang

In the feature film, Outrun, we follow the journey of the first transgender woman in the Philippine Congress. Facing oppression in a predominantly Catholic nation, her triumphant journey becomes an outcry for the rights of LGBTQ+ people globally. 

Spanning documentary, narrative, and experimental forms, these films illustrate that community care, self-love, and deep transformative listening between our loved ones is a portal to the Feminist Realities we are bringing into existence today.  From all across the Asia Pacific and it’s diaspora, these stories teach us that in the face of violence, tenderness is the sharpest force of resistance.

Watch our conversation with the filmmakers

Jess X Snow:

Jess X. Snow is a film director, artist, pushcart-nominated poet, children’s book author and community arts educator who creates queer asian immigrant stories that transcend borders, binaries and time. 

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