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 2 of 4
  • Women for Peace 2013

    Women in Black, 2013

    ‘Women for Peace’ is a collection of women's testimonies on war and women's resistance to war primarily in former Yugoslavia, particularly through the Women in Black movement in Bosnia, a worldwide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. The first chapter focuses on the struggles of Women in Black in Serbia before, during and after the war. In one of the articles an activist explains that it is not enough to pursue the war crimes institutionally, but it is likewise crucial to have alternative models of transitional justice, do permanent educational work, and remember and celebrate important dates of non-violent resistance in Serbia.

    The second chapter looks at feminist examples of anti-militarism in the Women in Black movement. It denounces violence against women during the conflict and describes how important women’s paid and unpaid work was. It deconstructs myths around the peace-loving nature of women and describes the different ways in which women have shown resistance to war, militarism and fascism, and how they built alliances with conscientious objectors and war deserters. Women in Black also came up with a different demilitarised concept of security that is valuable, human and gender sensitive and they suggest how to demilitarise resolution 1325. Different examples of feminist strategies are explained and a critical analysis of feminism in the region today is attempted, including its relation with political parties and the role of NGOs. Sexual violence and impunity are explored as well as alliances between movements. The last chapter collects articles from people who write about the Women in Black movement in Serbia as outsiders.

  • 2011 AWID global survey 'Where is the money for women’s rights?': preliminary research results

    A Pittman, A Arutyunova
    Association for Women's Rights in Development , 2012

    The 2011 AWID Global Survey was completed by 1,119 women’s organisations from more than140 countries. These preliminary research results were presented at the 12th AWID International Forum. They paint a varied picture for women’s organisations’ incomes and financial sustainability. The following are examples of the findings presented in this report.

    Most of the women’s organisations in the sample were founded during the past decade, and have received external funding. Although women’s organisations’ incomes in the sample have been growing since 2005, their 2010 incomes tended to be quite small (similar to what was found in previous surveys). A new trend was identified: the increasing importance and commonality of individual donors, membership fees, and income-generating activities as the top three most mentioned sources of women’s organisations’ funding. However, an analysis of how much funding women’s organisations received from various donor sectors revealed the top three to be: bilateral agencies, foundations and national governments.

    There is an apparent alignment between women’s organisations’ priority issues and what they receive specific funding for in the following areas: gender-based violence/violence against women, women’s leadership and empowerment, women’s economic empowerment, reproductive health and rights, sexual health (including HIV and AIDS), peace-building and violence against women in contexts of conflict/post-conflict, and access to education. Also, there is alignment between women’s organisations’ priority strategies and what they receive specific funding for in these areas: training/capacity building, women’s empowerment programmes, awareness raising, and advocacy/campaigning/lobbying.

    The final section of this report is on the financial sustainability of women’s organisations. It is divided into the following three sub-headings:

    A. Funding shifts since 2008 – Among the findings are that a larger percentage of survey respondents have gained or kept the same donors since the beginning of the 2008 financial and economic crisis. The loss of donors since 2008 had a significant impact on 223 of the organisations in the sample. For example, fourteen percent of all organisations had to cut activities, and one fifth of them reported experiencing the threat of potential closure.

    B. Financial security - Nearly half of women’s groups met their ideal budgets for 2010 or reported budget surpluses. However, women’s organisations across the sample were essentially living month to month; only a very small set of organisations in the survey had fully secured all of their income for 2011 and 2012. Most organisations (59%) have reserves that would allow them to operate for between one to six months.

    C. Financial sustainability - The financial sustainability of women’s organisations is compromised by low assets, savings, and safety nets. The majority of women’s organisations (52%) had never received multi-year funding. and only 28% of them received core funding in 2010.

    This publication is available online in French and Spanish at

  • The civic origins of progressive policy change: combating violence against women in global perspective, 1975-2005

    M Htun, S Weldon
    Cambridge University, 2012
    This article presents a global comparative analysis of policies on violence against women over four decades. The analysis comes from a dataset of policies in 70 countries between 1975 and 2005. The authors argue that what lies behind the differences in national policy – why some countries have more comprehensive policies than others, and why some governments are faster than others to adopt policies – is feminist mobilisation in civil society. They state that “autonomous feminist movements are the primary drivers of change because they articulate social group perspectives, disseminate new ideas and frames to the broader public, and demand institutional changes that recognise these meanings” (2012:552). Attention is drawn to the role that feminist movements played in getting violence against women recognised as a legitimate issue for action, even within other progressive social movements: “Women organising to advance women’s status have defined the very concept of VAW, raised awareness, and put the issue on national and global policy agendas” (2012:553).

    A range of strategies used by feminist movements working on violence against women are discussed, including self-organisation, lobbying, legal action, protest and networking, as well as adopting “particular ways of living, sometimes called ‘everyday politics’”(2012:554). The article goes on to consider transnational feminist advocacy, which has led to the inclusion of violence against women in international human rights treaties. Both domestic and international advocacy, the authors argue, “magnify the effects of these treaties by highlighting the gap between ratification and compliance” (2012:558). Feminist activists raise awareness of the rights contained in the legislation, train others on these rights, and use the treaties to challenge discriminatory laws, structures and processes. An interesting point is made about the changing role of feminist movements as progress is made. The work of these movements has led to the institutionalising of many of the principles they were fighting for, and this means their work changes; movements are still impacting on policy, but as institutions addressing violence against women are strengthened, the feminist movements’ relative importance lessens (although they still play an important role in making sure the institutions and women’s policy machineries live up to expectations).
  • Feminist movement builders’ dictionary

    Just Associates (JASS), 2012

    Intended to provide a conceptual and practical foundation for feminist movement building, this dictionary was written in response to a perceived “crisis of discourse”; terms like ‘empowerment’ have been co-opted by more powerful groups, such as the World Bank, causing them to lose their original meaning. Just Associates created this dictionary for feminist activists and movement-builders to generate and claim their own definitions.

    The contents of this dictionary reflect the various vantage points, intersecting identities, values, and experiences of its writers and contributors. It also draws on the expertise and experience of JASS’ community of feminist popular educators, scholars, and activists from 27 countries in Mesoamerica, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa.

    The dictionary is organised into the following sections:

    • Feminism(s)—social and political theories and concepts
    • Identity and difference—the building blocks of who we are
    • Power and knowledge—power analysis and feminist knowledge production
    • The State—the institutions and practice of citizenship, democracy, and governance
    • The Economy—deconstructing the current economic world order
    • Feminist Movement Building—organizing and leadership for a more just and equal world

    It begins by defining ‘feminist movement-building’ as different from ‘building feminist movements’. The latter is a process that mobilizes women, women’s organizations and allies for specific gender equality outcomes (eradicating violence against women, expanding equality of access to citizenship, etc,). Feminist movement building, on the other hand, attempts to bring feminist analysis and gender-equality perspectives into other agendas and movements (environment, peace, human rights, etc); and can involve building movements among women from different movements or agendas.

    This first English language edition of JASS’ Feminist Dictionary was developed by Alda Facio, Lisa VeneKlasen, Valerie Miller, Srilatha Batliwala, Annie Holmes, Molly Reilly, Alia Khan, Maggie Mapondera, Natalia Escruceria, and Anna Davies-van Es. The idea for this dictionary originated with JASS Mesoamerica; Alda Facio wrote the first version, ‘Diccionario feminista’, in Spanish.

    Additional information:

    This resource is also available in Spanish:

    To contribute to the development of this dictionary (new words, clearer definitions, etc.) e-mail:

  • What makes domestic violence legislation more effective?

    C Sardenberg
    Pathways of Women's Empowerment RPC, 2011
    This policy paper, developed as part of the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme, considers four key questions:

    • What is domestic violence and how is it manifested
    • What role has women’s organising played in confronting domestic violence?
    • What should domestic violence legislation encompass?
    • What are the major issues to address to guarantee the effectiveness of laws on domestic violence?

    The paper draws on several pieces of research conducted by Pathways partners, particularly the Observatory for Monitoring the Implementation of Maria da Penha Law (OBSERVE) in Brazil, but also from partners in Bangladesh, Egypt and Ghana. The paper presents four policy messages:

    • Domestic violence is multi-faceted, complex and devastating to women. It demands appropriate legislation to confront it and remove pressure from the victims.
    • Women’s organising is vital for publicising the harmful nature of domestic violence and for formulating and monitoring domestic violence legislation. Donors should support feminist organisations and initiatives to confront domestic violence.
    • Comprehensive legislation packages are needed to confront domestic violence against women. They should include punitive, protective and preventative measures and provisions for the monitoring of legislation implementation.
    • Effectiveness of domestic violence legislation depends on appropriate training of all service providers, cross-agency coordination, public opinion support, monitoring of policies by civil society organisations, and adequate budgets at all levels.

  • Changing their world 2nd edition

    S Batliwala (ed)
    Association for Women's Rights in Development , 2011
    This selection of four new case studies are an addition to the well received ‘Changing Their World’, publication from 2008, which contained ten case studies and considered what we mean by women’s movements, what makes a movement feminist, and the key issues facing women’s and feminist movements today. These further four case studies focus on:

    • The women’s peace movement in Sudan
    • Vamp/Sangram and the sex workers’ movement in southwest India
    • Galang and the movement for LBT rights in the Philippines
    • Disabled women’s organising in a local and global context
  • Rights and resources: the effects of external financing on organising for women’s rights

    M Mukhopadhyay, R Eyben
    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2011

    This synthesis report of a study concerns the historical trajectory of women’s rights organisations (WROs) in Bangladesh and Ghana within their changing national contexts as well as the shifting international aid landscape in the last two decades. It explores the conditions under which external financial support to WROs has a positive impact on women’s empowerment, as well as the conditions in which successful women’s organising is achievable without such support. The report also includes reflections and on comments and debates from an international conference held in Amsterdam in March 2011 which brought together representatives from case study and donor organisations, as well as international activists and researchers, to discuss the research findings and implications.

    The research was undertaken from 2009 to 2010 by the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment international research consortium in collaboration with the Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands. It involved participatory methods of critical reflection with both donor staff and representatives of national and global women’s rights organisations and networks. Five case study WROs were chosen in Bangladesh and six in Ghana. The report offers a model for how to study the topic in other contexts; it can be used by WROs in other countries to reflect upon the relevance of the findings in their own context and to respond accordingly. This study complements existing survey data through qualitative research undertaken by independent national research institutes in Bangladesh and Ghana, where rights-based civil society organisations have generally been heavily dependent on external financing. It is also distinctive in that it had no a priori assumption that successful women’s organising requires external funding.

    Among the main findings are that the influence of international aid in the 1990s and the early part of the last decade was particularly beneficial for organisational effectiveness. Recently, the funding landscape has become more hostile with funders’ interest in rights and social transformation declining. Maintaining the legitimacy of the discourse of women’s rights as integral to gender and development policies has not been easy either for gender officers in aid organisations or for the WROs; although the organisations have managed to keep their identity, a sense of autonomy and a continued commitment, they are struggling. International funders are missing an important opportunity to support WROs in a manner that would optimise their capacity to mobilise women to formulate and voice their demands for gender justice. The authors suggest the following actions be taken by WROs and donors.

    Women’s rights organisations need to ‘play the game but also seek to change the game’ by:

    • Setting agendas not running behind the donors’ agendas
    • Ensuring they are transparent, have integrity and are operating within the law
    • Sustaining their solidarity, rejecting the donor incitement to competition but rather helping each other, pooling resources and skills to amplify their voices
    • Reaffirming and making claims on government budgets, including donor’s budget support
    • Thinking of themselves as big, powerful actors and positioning themselves accordingly, including with intermediary organisations such as women’s funds and INGOs
    • Creating or taking space to engage donors including at high level countries of consultation, in campaigns and at national and international forums
    • Investing in cross-country relationships and actively engage with international women’s alliances, such as the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
    • Setting their own results frameworks by determining the differences they want to make, reflecting on and recording their own progress and identifying indicators accordingly, including those for social transformation
    • Strengthening their links with other social justice organisations and movements
    • Being more innovative about other ways of raising resources in their own countries

    Donors need to:

    • Recognise the importance of women mobilising for their rights as the main driver for gender justice and that failure to support WRO agendas will mean donors failing to secure their gender equality objectives
    • Understand and treat WROs as innovators not contractors
      Realise that social change can be slow and difficult and continue to support actions that might take a long time to bear fruit
    • Appreciate that social change comes through solidarity and avoid using funding to destroy the relationships between women activists in a country
    • Support the links between service delivery and advocacy rather than just fund one or the other
    • Ensure greater coherence and continuity in their support to WROs including with their own donor agendas and when these change communicate and consult 
    • Provide institutional support related to indicators for enhanced organisational performance
    • De-mystify and simplify funding applications
    • Undermining WROs when recruiting their staff
    • Encourage women’s funds to take a higher profile in campaigning on women’s rights including innovative but rigorous approaches to evaluating actions for social transformation

    (excerpt from Mukhopadhyay and Eyben, 2011:10-11)  

    This research and conference were supported by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and UN Women, and funded by the Netherlands International Development Directorate. 

  • Feminist leadership for social transformation: clearing the conceptual cloud

    S. Batliwala
    CREA, 2011
    How can feminist leadership development equip women and men to lead differently, and transform the architecture of power both within their own organisations and movements, and the wider world? CREA commissioned this paper as part of its broader work on leadership development strategies, with the aim of generating new thinking and action on transformative feminist leadership, advancing social justice in ways that other forms of leadership cannot, and building feminist leadership capacity in a much wider group of women and men than those who would identify themselves as feminists. The paper begins by setting out some existing definitions and concepts of leadership, looking at them through a feminist lens. It then looks in greater depth at concepts around feminist leadership, and ‘unpacks’ them into four areas: power, principles and values, politics and purpose, and practices. The paper considers the sites of feminist leadership (for example the family, the state, the market and civil society), and asks ‘what does it look like?’ with some practical examples to ground the discussion. The authors conclude this paper with a crucial reminder: that feminist leadership’s fundamental attribute should be, as the Admira toolkit insists, to “make waves.” In other words, there is little point in leadership development programs if they do not equip women to deal with the messy, frightening, dangerous but exhilarating business of feminist social transformation.
  • Ain’t I a woman? A global dialogue between the sex workers’ rights movement and the stop violence against women movement

    B Datta
    CREA, 2011
    This report arose from a dialogue hosted by CREA and CASAM in 2009 as part of CREA’s “Count Me In” programme on addressing violence against women in south Asia. The topic of the dialogue was the sensitive issue of sex work and violence, and the spectrum of views on the issue – from seeing all sex work as violence per se, to seeing violence against sex workers as a significant human rights violation that has been ignored by women’s and human rights movements. The dialogue was ground breaking in that it brought the different, and often conflicting, perspectives and voices of sex workers and anti-violence against women activists together, highlighting their own words and viewpoints. Participants considered how they can work together to address violence within adult sex work, build alliances across movements to ensure that sex workers are seen within a human rights context, and expand campaign and policy frameworks in this area beyond a focus on trafficked women.

    The report provides an overview of the dialogue sessions in which speakers discussed issues such as the relationship between sex work and women’s movements, the experiences of sex workers in resisting violence, and of feminists who have become sex worker rights advocates. The dialogue resulted in some recommendations for future collaborative action:

    • A campaign to influence mainstream human rights organisations to include sex workers’ rights within their mandates
    • A strategy to present the issue to regional feminist coalitions
    • A political statement by feminists to reclaim the anti-violence feminist space so that it is not also an anti-sex work space
    • A process for sex worker rights groups to define their negotiables and non-negotiables
    • A mechanism to document best practices in fighting violence against sex workers
  • Sex work and women's movements

    S Shah
    CREA, 2011
    What relationships exist between women’s movements and sex workers’ movements? How have historical developments and discourses shaped these relationships, and what are the theoretical and strategic tensions that exist at the present time? There’s growing recognition that women’s and sex workers’ movements must recognise their commonalities in terms of concerns and constituencies. But, this paper argues, there are still strong political differences between the two movements. The author sets out to address these issues, considering the development of sex workers’ movements over the last two decades alongside the historical context of feminist discourses on violence against women, and particularly, human trafficking.

    The paper is part of CREA’s programme “Count Me In! Addressing violence against marginalised women in south Asia”. At the heart of the paper is an interrogation of the dichotomous categorisations of ‘forced’ and ‘chosen’ sex, and sex workers as either victims needing rescue, or possessing agency and choice. The author looks at the history of these categorisations in order to help contextualise current policy initiatives around sex work and human trafficking, making fascinating connections between the discourses surrounding early 19th century western feminism, anti-colonialism in the global south, and women’s movements of the 1960s and 70s in different global regions.

    The Indian women’s movement is used as a case study, and the differing engagement of the movement with sex work issues is considered in three time periods: the late nineteenth century, the late 1970s and the late 1990s. The movement is now in a fourth, ongoing period, in which a range of new issues, including those related to sexuality, are increasingly recognised as relevant, and these links are highlighting the need for new alliance building between movements.

    The paper also considers how discourses around migration and HIV/AIDS converge with those around sex work and gender. It finishes with a section on the growth of a sex workers’ movement, highlighting some interesting differences with the women’s movement around the way the movements view and approach the state, as either a regulator and protector, or a power to question.