In order to build strong alliances and avoid fragmentation, social movements must recognise and address diverse identities and politics among their members.

In this section you'll find resources examining the relationships between gender and identities based on factors such as sexual orientation, class, caste, ethnicity and disability. You can also find out more about the links between women's and feminist movements and others such as the climate and economic justice movements.

21 resources - Page 1 of 3
  • 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.

  • 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]
  • Gender, organising and movement building at the intersection of environmental justice and reproductive justice: executive summary

    Ford Foundation, 2013

    A growing number of organisations are making connections between environmental justice (EJ) and reproductive issues. The reproductive justice (RJ) movement is relatively new, and explicit intersectional work with EJ is just beginning to be formally identified and examined. In a relatively short period of time and with limited resources, EJ/RJ groups have collected impressive energy and momentum, developed sophisticated analyses, and won key victories.

    Commissioned by the Ford Foundation, this document is an executive summary of the following two reports: ‘Fertile ground: women’s organizing at the intersection of environmental justice and reproductive justice’ (Movement Strategy Center 2009) and ‘Climate of opportunity: gender and movement building at the intersection of reproductive justice and environmental justice’ (Women’s Foundation of California 2009). These reports share similar foci and findings - highlighting both funding opportunities and gaps that need to be filled.

    ‘Fertile ground’ is a national scan of organisations working at the intersection of environmental health and justice and reproductive justice. ‘Climate of opportunity’ shares lessons learned from the EJ/RJ Collaborative, a two-year effort of the Women’s Foundation of California to convene a selected group of community leaders working at the EJ/RJ intersection.

    This joint executive summary was created to link these efforts in a useful and proactive way. It is intended for funders and community organisations interested in multi-issue movement building, and elevating the voices of women of colour. The following recommendations were developed by the Women’s Foundation of California for Funders to support EJ/RJ work (see the executive summary for details):

    1) Map the landscape.
    2) Develop measures of success for intersectional organising in collaboration with community-based organisations.
    3) Invest in movement building and movement capacity.
    4) Convene organisations working across issues.
    5) Build the capacity of organisations.
    6) Invest in policy advocacy.
    7) Focus strategic support on groups led by women of colour that are creating innovative policy solutions.
    8) Invest in intermediaries.
    9) Build the capacity of foundation staff.
    10) Coordinate across funder affinity groups.
    11) Keep in mind that different regions and communities have different needs.
    12) Help accelerate the engagement of community leaders across issue areas.

  • The LGBTIQ and sex worker movements in East Africa

    S Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe, H Chigudu
    BRIDGE, 2013
    How have the emerging LGBTIQ and sex worker movements in East Africa developed and connected with each other? What lessons can be learnt about inclusive movement building for social justice and human rights? This case study, written especially for the BRIDGE Cutting Edge programme on gender and social movements, describes how these movements are struggling with many issues: identity, marginalisation, denial of citizenship, invisibility, discrimination, human dignity and oppression. Despite the fact that they are dealing with contentious issues within and between movements that can make it difficult to forge common interests, goals and strategies, common ground and alliances have been built.
  • Who is the 99%? Feminist perspectives on Occupy

    V Sahasranaman
    BRIDGE, 2013
    After the revolution in Tahrir Square, the Occupy movement is, perhaps, the most significant mass social movement of this decade. How did the movement emerge, and where was gender justice and women’s rights on its agenda? This case study, written especially for the BRIDGE gender and social movements programme, documents the fault lines that begin to emerge within the Occupy movement along the lines of gender and inclusion.
  • Count me in! research report on violence against disabled, lesbian, and sex-working women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal

    S. Faiz Rashid, T. Hasan, S. Camellia
    CREA, 2012
    Based on the first ever multi-country research study on violence against disabled, lesbian and sex-working women, this report from CREA, in partnership with University College London, collates the findings that have emerged and presents recommendations. Three countries were studied: Bangladesh, with contributions by BRAC University; India, with help from Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action; and Nepal, via the Centre for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities. Of the three groups of women interviewed in this study, it is disabled women that are most likely to attract policy attention, with lesbians less likely if they were identified as such. Sex-workers face a particular struggle to gain political or civil legitimacy. Other findings are that the likelihood of interpersonal violence increases alongside social exclusion. Service providers are also interviewed as part of the study, with discussion on barriers to providing services, how to encourage more women to seek help, and their knowledge of and attitudes towards laws on violence against women. This report concludes that societies should view and address social exclusion, stigma, discrimination and violence through a more deeply rooted equality-based approach.
  • Celebrating momentum and milestones: a WEDO history of women's organising toward a healthy and peaceful planet

    Women's Environment and Development Organization , 2012
    WEDO is an international women's global advocacy organisation focused on social, economic and environmental justice and sustainable development. To celebrate WEDO marking their twentieth anniversary, they have delved into their collective history to produce this review of significant milestones and moments of transformation in women's rights. Spanning from 1990 to 2012, the review takes the form of a year-by-year look at WEDO's work, beginning with how it all started.

    Born from efforts to bring women's voices and experience to the environmental agenda, WEDO was the vision of Bella Abzug, Mim Kelber and others who grew concerned at the lack of women's voices in the sustainability agenda. In 1991, they helped organise The Women's World Congress for a Healthy Planet in Miami, hosting more than 1500 women from 83 countries, where they facilitated the strategic organisation of those seeking to influence the upcoming World Summit in Rio. As a result, all UNCED outcome documents from the 1992 summitt in Brazil contained gender equality issues and recommendations

    Numerous lobbying efforts, campaign launches, and legislative victories are highlighted in the following years: in 1993, WEDO won a pledge for gender balance in the newly established Commission on Sustainable Development; in 1994, they organised the women's caucus at the UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo; and in 1996, Bella Abzug was honoured by the UN and NGOs worldwide with a UN peacekeepers Beret.

    Women's rights continued to make significant ground, with WEDO at the forefront of efforts to focus the international agenda on women's issues and ensuring gender-sensitive outcome of major summits and conferences. In 1999, WEDO joined 50,000 people to peacefully protest the social and economic impacts of World Trade Organisation policies. WEDO and other women's rights advocates argued the case for equality and empowerment in the drafting of the Millennium Development Goals; their efforts are reflected in the final outcomes. Other highlights include the publishing of Beijing Betrayed in 2005, a global overview and regional summary of progress of the preceding decade, and the launch of the Women Delegates Fund supporting women from least developed countries to join national negotiating teams.

  • AWID economic toolbox

    Association for Women's Rights in Development , 2012
    The theme of the 12th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, celebrated in Istanbul, Turkey (19-22 April 2012) was ‘transforming economic power to advance women’s rights and justice’. On the first day of the forum, participants took part in session block dedicated to information sharing, awareness raising, and skills building on themes linked to economics, economic policies or other issues of key concern for feminists interested in transforming economic power.

    This section of the 12th AWID Forum website has been shaped from the ideas, resources, debates and materials shared at the Feminist Economics Toolbox sessions. It contains multimedia resources, divided into the following sections:

    - Gross Domestic Product (GDP) / Growth – explores the current status of national income accounting, the best questions feminists can be asking, and the best strategies to adopt.

    - Surviving Money and the Financial System – addresses how money and financial systems operate and impact on women of limited means; how the system serves economic purpose, but also deceives and impoverishes through abuse; what women need to know and do to counter the system and survive.

    - Gender Equity through Taxation – includes the Tax Advocacy Tool Kit from the Tax Justice Network-Africa to equip gender-based organisations to expose the implicit and explicit gender biases of tax policies and advocate for their removal.

    - Rethinking Ideas of Work – covers how feminists have sought to reconceptualise the idea of work, highlighting the artificial nature of the distinction between paid and unpaid work; and discussing how the rise of global care chains has made visible some of the hidden dimensions of women’s work.

    - Climate Change Finance – explores the gender dimensions of international climate change finance, including essential nuts and bolts of gender climate change adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer and development.

    - Demystifying the Financial Crisis – expresses participants’ concerns about the on-going financial crisis of 2008 and austerity measures being imposed upon entire populations, finding these to be citizen’s and women’s issues.

    - International Financial Institutions (IFIs) – includes an overview on the IFIs (what they are, their role, and how they influence and impact country policies, investments and women’s rights and livelihoods), and how civil society can advocate for gender sensitive IFI investments that promote women’s rights and justice.

    - Macroeconomic Policy – asserting that understanding the overall impact of macroeconomic policies on human rights can be an effective tool in feminist activism, this section explores the linkages between macroeconomic policies and human rights.

    - Food Sovereignty and Food Security – presents basic concepts of food security and food sovereignty; where these concepts emerged and their contexts; and highlights distinctions between the two and their relevance for advancing women’s rights and economic justice.

    - Feminist Economics 101 – provides a basic understanding of Feminist Economics (FE), and explores its contributions to both economics and feminism.

    - Commodification of Knowledge – includes an article by of the issues raised in the economic toolbox session addressing how increasing access and availability of the Internet has transformed the way knowledge is produced and shared.

    - New Forms of International Trade – with a focus on developing countries, explores issues regarding the gendered impacts of bilateral free trade and investment agreements across sectors such as agriculture, industry and services.

    - International Financial Architecture – with a focus on gender justice, examines key pillars of the international financial architecture, fiscal and monetary policy, financial markets, public debt, and the roles of various actors; highlighting the ideology and principles shaping the current system and how it could be re-structured.

    - Corporate Campaigning 101 – discusses how campaign organisations working to advance worker rights in global supply chains balance campaigning and engagement with corporations to pressure for change.

    - Development: Some of Us Live It – engages with critical feminist perspectives of the different constructions and conceptions of development; exploring and challenging what these diverse, mainstream and complex understandings of development mean for women’s rights.

    The 12th AWID Forum website contains more materials from the event preparations, outcomes, and follow-up; exploring key issues and debates; and helping people learn more about economic power and its connections with women’s rights issues and agendas. To learn more, visit:

  • Global report on the situation of women human rights defenders

    K Asoka
    Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, 2012
    This extensive report was produced between 2005 and 2012 by members of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. It includes 43 detailed case studies selected by coalition members. The first section focuses on the context in which women human rights defenders (WHRDs) work. Several issues are discussed, including fundamentalisms, which pose particular risks for WHRDs, as the work they do is seen as challenging established sexual norms and patriarchal power structures. The dangers that WHRDs face in militarised environments are also covered, along with the fact that their contributions as agents of change in peace processes are often unrecognised. Another topic is globalisation and the role of WHRDs in challenging violations of indigenous rights, labour and land rights. Democracy and governance crises are also emphasised, as WHRDs draw attention to human rights violations committed by both state and non-state actors. Finally the consequences for WHRDs who challenge heteronormativity are explored, with those working on sexual and reproductive rights and LGBTI rights facing particular risks of retaliation and discrimination.

    The second chapter looks at specific violations against WHRDs, including gender-based violence such as sexual assault and sexuality baiting, as well as violations experienced by both male and female human rights defenders, but which have gendered consequences, including shaming and repudiation. It also highlights the importance of an intersectional approach when looking at violations against WHRDs. The final chapter contains strategies to address the situation of WHRDs. Among those discussed are protective accompaniment, visits to express solidarity or monitor risk, international and regional mechanisms to deter violations and promote visibility, emergency grants for security and legal expenses, and urgent appeals around actual or impending human rights violations.