Great news! After more than a year of our supporters campaigning shoulder to shoulder with women’s rights activists around the world, the government have just announced a big chunk of funding to support the grassroots groups ending violence against women. These groups are the absolute backbone of the fight for gender equality, so this is amazing news. Here’s how this will make a difference to women’s and girls’ lives all over the world:
Last week, just after launching our campaign for the 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women, we learned that the government has announced £6 million of funding for grassroots organisations working to end domestic abuse, FGM and child marriage. This is incredible news – together with more than 80,000 campaigners, we’d been lobbying the government for over a year to do more to fund vital groups like these.
So why are these grassroots groups such a big deal?
Groups like these offer a safe haven to women who’ve experienced violence. So, in a crisis, they’re often the first place a survivor will turn to, offering much-needed immediate support.
But they don’t just deal with violence once it’s happened. They’re also a crucial driving force behind women’s rights movements – tackling the root causes of violence against women, and pushing for better laws and policies to end violence for good.
We know that their work is the best way to take on violence against women – something that affects a shocking one in three women worldwide. Sadly, these groups are also critically underfunded – so it’s great to see the government taking steps to change this.
How our campaigners helped make this happen
Last year, we launched our women’s rights campaign, calling on the UK government to do more to end the global scourge of violence against women. A whopping 80,000 people signed our petition, helped along by campaigners going the extra mile by telling their friends, gathering support at festivals, and running stalls in their towns to get the message out. This year, more than 3,000 supporters got creative with their campaigning for International Women’s Day, contributing to a global, crowdsourced poem of hope for the women of the future - which we projected straight onto the Houses of Parliament to get your message to the heart of government.
In the spring, thousands of you emailed, tweeted or called your MPs to get a crucial debate. On the day the room was packed, and MPs from all over the country put tough questions to the government on their work to bring down violence.
Then last month, for the 16 Days of Activism, thousands of you supported the three fearless women’s rights activists from Kenya, Myanmar and Somaliland who wrote directly to the government about the need to fund this vital work. Not long into the 16 Days, we heard the amazing news about the new funding.
How grassroots groups fight violence against women
So what kind of thing do these groups work on? Daisy Amdany is the director of one of them in Kenya , and chairs the National Women’s Steering Committee – a coalition of 56 grassroots women’s groups. She told us about the challenges in tackling violence against women in her country:
“Addressing violence is the easy thing to do – addressing the causes is the challenge. The real challenge is the unequal power structure between men and women, and until we address this, we will continue to address only the symptoms and not the root cause.”
She told us that she and her colleagues have faced a lot of backlash for their work:
“We operate in a very hostile environment. If you point out any wrong you’re seen as belonging to the opposition.
“In Kenya, we now have a constitution that enshrines women’s rights as human rights. This was achieved through the concerted efforts of women’s rights groups working together.”
With this new funding, more groups like Daisy’s will get the resources they need to keep changing the lives of women and girls in their countries.
The next step for the campaign
This isn't the end of the story. The announcement was for £6 million of new funding – that’s a real win, and it’ll make a serious difference to women’s lives all over the world. But the government can, and should, do more.
We’ve been calling for them to put an extra £70 million towards these groups over the next three years so, while this is a good step, there’s much more to do. We’ll keep pushing behind the scenes to get the government to build on this commitment, and make sure these life-changing groups get the funding they so badly need.
Want to join the thousands of amazing campaigners who helped win this funding, and be part of the fight to end violence against women? Sign up to be an ActionAid campaigner now: