There is a growing body of work on the nature of women's and feminist movements and their characteristics and concerns. In this section you'll find examples of this work, focusing on the growth and achievements of these movements in different global regions.

35 resources - Page 1 of 4
  • Resourcing for resilience: lessons from funding women's rights movements

    Z Moosa, C Stanton
    CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, 2015

    The last few years have seen two related trends: a marked shrinking of civil society space in a number of countries, and a greater recognition of the need for targeted and appropriate resources to support enabling
    environments for civil society to thrive. Shrinking space for civil society has entailed severe attacks on women’s rights activists, women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and women’s rights groups and movements. Meanwhile the focus on enabling environments has meant that increased attention is being paid to the funding mechanisms needed to resource civil society, including women’s rights movements, to resist these attacks.

    This article discusses how the kinds of work women’s rights social movements are undertaking exposes them to risks in some predictable ways, why a focus on resourcing resilience is a responsible and effective means of supporting them to handle these risks, and the ways in which Mama Cash and the Urgent Action Fund are collaborating towards a ‘continuum of funding’ approach to do this well.

    (summary taken from source)

  • Moving toward sexual and reproductive justice: a transnational and multigenerational feminist remix

    A Garita
    Oxford Handbooks Online (Oxford University Press), 2014
    This online book chapter maps the journey of the transnational feminist sexual health and reproductive rights (SRHR) movement over the last twenty years, focusing on its engagement in United Nations processes. It discusses the movement’s successes, struggles, and prospects for the future, and sets out what the movement needs to do to present a strong united force against increasing conservatism. The chapter begins by looking back at the gains made in the 1990s, at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. A strong feminist constituency fighting for SRHR grew up, helped by strong feminist leaders and confidence and investment from donors.

    It then describes the ‘decade of stagnation’ on sexual and reproductive rights that followed in the 2000s, where conservative and religiously motivated views on SRHR gained strength, funding for reproductive health programmes declined, and movements were weakened and went into ‘survival mode’. Recently, the paper argues, the ‘Cairo generation’ of feminists have returned to UN spaces to reclaim SRHR. While this was a positive development, it also meant that younger generations and other marginalised activists felt excluded, and challenges were identified around building common agendas, strategies and solidarity.

    As the 20 year anniversary of Cairo approached, discussions on SRHR were reinvigorated, with a series of meetings taking place, including the regional ICPD regional reviews. Each meeting brought positive gains in the forms of declarations agreed with governments, but at the same time opposition to advancing human rights, particularly in relation to sexuality and reproduction, continues to grow. The paper ends with three ‘conundrums’ that transnational feminists working on SRHR need to tackle:

    • Moving on from identity politics – it has been challenging to develop collective feminist movements around SRHR, but movements need to develop a joint sense of ownership over a common agenda that is inclusive and mutually understood.

    • Reinvigorating the movement – it is important to build cross generational feminist solidarity, knowledge transfer and power sharing in order to keep movements strong, active and alive.

    • Implementing SRHR locally and sharing experiences globally – in order to bridge gaps in the implementation of global health and population policies, movements urgently need a steady funding base and increased resources for local and regional work.

  • A ‘Movement Support’ Organisation: The Experience Of The Association For Women’s Rights In Development (AWID)

    R Jones, S Rosenhek, A Turley
    Association for Women's Rights in Development, 2014
    This article illustrates how AWID’s ‘movement support’ model – based on collaboration and channels of dialogue with its membership and broader constituency – is helping to advance its shared goals of human rights, peace, gender justice and environmental sustainability worldwide.
  • ARROW resource kit

    Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women, 2014

    This Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW) publication, the ARROW Resource Kit (ARK), is a compilation of the most effective governance and management tools and resources that ARROW has developed over the past 20 years. ARROW decided early to give equal priority to programme and organisational development, and has since been assessed by donors and external evaluators as strong in both aspects. ARROW has documented and shared their experiences to enhance their own development, as well as to support and encourage other organisations. The ARK is a resource for leaders and managers working in the women’s movement or other movement-based organisations, as well as scholars and organisational development practitioners. The ARK is divided into four chapters, the first of which provides a brief history of ARROW’s inception and growth as a feminist organisation dedicated to sexual and reproductive health and rights, highlighting key developments, etc. The second chapter describes ARROW’s core beliefs, including that consciously acknowledging and mediating power can lead to a higher level of participation in an organisation; this chapter also shares processes, tools and stories related to ARROW’s structural pillars. In the third chapter, the authors illustrate how ARROW has succeeded in building partnerships, focusing on the following topics: the selection of partners, sharing power in partnerships and capacity building. The fourth chapter presents the main components of ARROW’s organisational sustainability strategies, as well as resources for each. The conclusion summarises the main lessons ARROW has learned over the years, among which is to invest in process: take steps to come to common understandings, agreements and decisions over any governance, organisational or programmatic matter in a way that creates a sense of belonging, inclusion, valuing and collective ownership. The final, and perhaps most important, lesson is the importance of sharing insights, tools and resources among women’s organisations. Through the ARK process, ARROW realised that more time and effort must be invested into its own organisational development, for which there has been insufficient funding in recent years. This publication is made possible with support from the Global Fund for Women, Nina Raj, Sida and the Ford Foundation.

  • WELDD Feminist leadership web portal

    Shirkat Gah, 2014
    This web portal, developed by the Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation (WELDD) programme, is intended to be a space to share useful resources, as well as a forum for sharing experiences and holding discussions about how to nurture feminist leadership that is transformative and sustainable. The resources area has a feminist library and a tool for activists section. The ‘public square’ section contains blogs written by portal users on a range of subjects and the ‘our voices’ section contains news and updates on women’s rights issues in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. There is a particular focus on public and political participation, peace and security, culturally justified violence against women and land and economic rights.

  • Organising women workers in the informal economy

    N. Kabeer, K. Milward, R. Sudarshan
    Gender and Development, 2013
    There are numerous challenges facing organisation amongst the hardest-to-reach women in the informal economy. This paper, published in Gender and Development, examines the various factors determining the success and failure of attempts to organise, and seek economic justice and recognition. The paper analyses organisational strategies in different contexts and for different workers, to identify a battery of weapons among these organised women which offer significant advantages over the strategies they had previously relied upon when unorganised. This article discusses these issues with particular reference to two case studies: the MAP Foundation in Thailand, and KKPKP in Pune, India. The paper focuses on a number of themes: the need for shared identity in building cohesive and lasting organisations; the importance of culture, discourse and information, or ‘soft power’, when navigating confrontational issues; the practicalities of everyday life for organisational members, and the expectations they have for organisational support; making the law work for workers, allowing them recourse to their rights and, according to MAP, reducing reliance on strikes to settle grievances; engaging in politics and policies, e.g. the KKPKP gaining government endorsement of union cards and access to medical insurance schemes for bin collectors; and finally, dealing with inequalities, in particular caste, race, gender, and legality. The paper concludes by outlining four key lessons from the research. Firstly, it is important to start with local issues, allowing freedom for locally-minded strategies and processes to emerge, facilitated by external catalysts where needed. For women in the informal economy, the politics of redistribution, which converges with traditional trade union roles, must be joined by the politics of recognition; for many, dignity is as much a concern as daily bread. Secondly, being responsive to local contexts will necessarily entail more time; the variety, difficulty, and sensitivity involved in building trust and participation amongst hard-to-reach women must be properly understood. While outside agencies may be needed, it is important that local groups evolve at their own behest and rate. The third lesson is that strategies evolve over time. It is often necessary to first focus on building relationships and shared culture; initial efforts to address central issues may fail to bring women together. Beginning with gentle, less confrontational strategies can build self- and group-confidence to a point where they become empowered enough to assert their rights for themselves. Finally, the authors noted some of the payoffs and tensions to collaboration between the local-global divide. Organisations working with vulnerable sections of society must be well-attuned to the realities of life experienced at the local level, yet, if genuine representation of local voices can be amplified by international organisations, there is great potential for informing the trajectories and deepening the perspectives of global movements in ways that validate vulnerable groups claims for representation.
  • A tale of two movements: how women's rights became human rights

    M Bhattacharjya
    BRIDGE, 2013
    Where and when have human rights movements and women’s movements converged, and how have they informed and changed one another? Since Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), the concept of ‘natural rights’ (granted to humans as ‘God’ intended) as put forward by philosophers was found to be lacking an understanding of the realities of women’s lives ordered around patriarchal structures (as man, rather than ‘god’ made). The ideas of natural rights evolved into ‘human rights’, first defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), drawn up in the aftermath of the horrors of World War II as the world looked at human life anew. The decades that followed saw the rise of movements around the world powerfully using concepts of human rights to address the arbitrary detention or torture of people imprisoned for challenging the State or their beliefs, and in documenting abuse by dictatorial regimes. This period saw a parallel rise in feminist movements around the world. This case study, based on a review of key documents and interviews with global and regional women’s rights advocates, looks at the points of convergence of these two movements, and the impacts they have had on each other. It was written especially for the BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack on gender and social movements. [adapted from source]
  • Why gender matters in activism: feminism and social justice movements

    M Bhattacharjya et al
    Taylor and Francis Group, 2013
    This article previews three case studies developed as part of the BRIDGE Cutting Edge programme on gender and social movements. More than 100 scholars and activists from around the world contributed through debate to discuss the roles, demands, strategies, challenges, and opportunities facing women in social movements.
    The article begins by briefly contextualising the historical struggle between feminism, and the unconscious ‘deep-structure’ of all social movements. It then describes the history, structure and strategies of women in each of the case studies: Amnesty, where tensions have arisen in the past concerning the strategic focus and remit of the organisation; CLOC, a rural movement protecting natural resources, whose aim to promote gender justice is hampered by perceptions that class-based struggle should take priority; and Occupy, which saw the emergence of autonomously organised gender-focused teach-ins and workshops, and safe spaces for women.
    Some of the common threads to emerge from each of the case studies include:

    • The crucial role of feminists and gender justice advocates in creating change within movements. This goes beyond focusing on issues traditionally seen as involving women’s rights, toward gendering the culture and strategic direction of the movement as a whole.

    • The continuing barriers and hierarchies-of-rights that women face within movements. Maintaining and advancing change is often undermined by focusing on more ‘pressing’ demands.

    • Commitment at the highest level is crucial for transformative change. In movements with less defined organisational hierarchies such as occupy, dedicated groups must ensure equality issues enter the strategic dynamics present. Ultimately, all movements must recognise the holistic nature of all marginalised group demands.

    • This commitment must also translate into a change in the broader movements culture, ensuring negative internal dynamics are explicitly minimised and routed around. Safe spaces are one way to facilitate inclusion and empowerment of marginal groups, but it is important this represent a launching pad for wider discussion.

    • Gendering strategies should be tailored from the movement’s own discussion and introspection on the issues.
    • Sustained and transformative change cannot happen overnight; it requires a long-term commitment that can overcome likely backlash and even regression.
  • Our justice, our leadership: the grassroots women’s community justice guide

    P Ransom, J Brown
    Huairou Commission, 2013

    This guide was designed to serve grassroots women, trainers, and facilitators involved in community justice activities across Africa. It was written by grassroots women, trainers, and facilitators who are members of the Huairou Commission and Women’s Land Link Africa (WLLA) – a Pan-African platform on land and property rights. It shows how grassroots women across Africa have achieved justice, especially related to land rights, and how they have equipped volunteers who continue to work for justice in their communities. They share sample activities, case studies, and references to helpful additional resources.

    The guide has six broad aims and three specific purposes:


    -Introduce women with land issues to opportunities for justice
    -Share the experience and wisdom of grassroots women
    -Help women gain ownership of land and property and work on land and property rights
    -Build capacity to mobilise women and communities for justice work
    -Support cooperation among organisations focusing on statutory and legal rights and communities focusing on customary and traditional practices
    -Support sustainable initiatives


    -Describe what a Community Justice Process involves
    -Describe what Community Justice Workers are trained to do
    -Provide resources to help grassroots women organise their own Community Justice Process and mobilise their own Community Justice Workers

    For the purposes of this guide, a distinction is made between two kinds of activities (two paths) that make up the Community Justice Process: community organising and leadership development. The section on community organising activities is structured as a seven step process, which ends with sustaining long-term support for community justice. The following four kinds of community organising activities are highlighted: conducting community-driven processes for resolving land disputes; raising awareness of land rights issues; providing advice and help in working with the legal system; and offering support to people who might not be able to afford legal services.

    Seven leadership development resources are also included, encompassing the following kinds of activities: conducting assessments to identify community, group, and individual needs; deciding relevant training objectives and planning training activities; identifying potential trainees and selecting training participants; as well as organising, conducting, and evaluating community events and training activities.

  • Gender, activism and backlash: women and social mobilisation in Egypt

    H Sholkamy
    BRIDGE, 2013
    The revolutions of 2011 in Tunis, Egypt and Libya were brought about by an accumulation of unresolved tensions, unbridled autocracy and many injustices. In Egypt as elsewhere, the demonstrations that filled the squares and streets with millions of women and men were not organised by formal political parties or sustained by political structures. This case study, written especially for the BRIDGE Cutting Edge Programme on gender and social movements, documents the role of women activists in the revolution, and the backlash and gender discrimination that has occurred in the post revolutionary arena.