Badi women are forced by caste into prostitution. In 2007, they marched on Kathmandu to demand nationality for their children, born out of wedlock. The government gave in after the Badi threatened to “out” the fathers, many of whom were influential in Nepali society.
AP’s partners are committed to action. Our task is to help them acquire the tools and the skills to achieve their goals.
We support campaigns that are short and sharp, like the 2007 campaign by low-caste Badi women in Nepal to win citizenship for their children (photo). Or the action can last years and involve a patient effort on many fronts, like BOSFAM’s campaign to empower survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. When a campaign changes policy and behavior outside the affected community, social change is under way.
AP is deeply committed to supporting action and we encourage all partners to identify long-term goals that will provide focus and allow us to measure progress – something that donors require. Most partners need no urging. All of our field programs are initiated and led by partners. We contribute from Washington by sending a field officer, raising funds and building an international constituency.
Which campaigns we support will depend on the enthusiasm of the partner, the availability of funds, and our ability to add value. Peace Fellows play a big part in helping us to decide. We began our program on armed sexual violence in the Congo in 2009 at the recommendation of Peace Fellow Ned Meerdink. Ned was impressed by the work of SOS Femmes en Danger, a Congolese NGO, and his instincts paid off. Between 2009 and 2013 SOSFED pioneered a new approach to war rape based on risk reduction, with AP’s help.
Kosovo e-Rider: In 2003 AP trained Heroina Telaku (left) to connect members of the newly-formed Kosova Women’s Network. This enabled Network members to speak with a single, effective, voice and emerge as a vocal advocate for women in post-war Kosovo.
Where possible, we try and ensure that a program will be sustained after our initial involvement ends, and that innovative approaches are replicated elsewhere. The UN is a particularly good ally. The UN Population Fund helped us to launch our program on advocacy quilting in 2012, and the UN Special Representative on Armed Sexual Violence has endorsed SOSFED’s model for reducing the exposure of women to war rape.
Fundraising is easy to track, and between 2007 and 2013 we raised $1.745 million for partners. It is harder to show a direct cause and effect between our services and the advocacy of partners, particularly as our Fellows are only deployed for ten weeks. But the objective is crystal clear – to help partners develop information tools that will strengthen their ability to advocate and launch campaigns for human rights.
During the early years of AP, we tested this out with partners in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Nepal. in Kosovo and Afghanistan, we helped the Kosova Women’s Network (KWN) and Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) to use IT in speaking with one voice and campaigning for women’s rights. In Nepal, we published the reports of our two partners, the Jagaran Media Center and the Collective Campaign for Peace, after they were closed down during the coup in 2005. This helped JMC and COCAP stay relevant, and he following year they were at the forefront of the peaceful revolution which restored democracy to Nepal and outlaw caste – a stunning achievement.
All three partners were generous with their thanks. Igo Rogova, the dynamic coordinator of the KWN wrote: “We were invisible before (AP) helped us. We are now visible world-wide. The wall came down.”
Our contribution is hardest to measure when AP is part of a larger action by civil society. For example, we helped two partners in Nigeria and Italy (WOCON and TAMPEP ) to publicize the trafficking of girls between the two countries. Both governments have since come under pressure from a wide array of advocates, and significantly improved protections against trafficking. We would not, of course, claim credit for this, but it is clear that our partners played a key role in the campaign. By helping them, we contributed.
In 2003, AP’s field officer Mary Moore, helped the Afghan Women’s Network to use information in campaigning for women’s rights. Mary also helped Sadiqa Basiri to launch the Oruj Learning Center, another AP partner.
Sometimes the outcome of partner campaigns is deeply disappointing, as when Travellers of Dale Farm were evicted from their homes in southeast England in October 2011 after six years of constructive, peaceful resistance.
But even such setbacks cannot take away from the larger achievements. After the Dale Farm Travellers brought their case to Britain’s High Court in 2008, the judgement by Justice Andrew Collins changed British law by making it illegal to evict minorities if this would lead to homelessness.
As history has shown, the path to change is uneven. Our bet is that history will eventually validate most, if not all of the actions of our partners.
The war in Eastern Congo has taken a terrible toll on women. AP’s partner, SOS Femmes en Danger (SOSFED), is implementing a program in Fizi Territory, South Kivu, to help rape survivors recover in the company of other women and return to their families and communities. SOSFED also seeks to reduce the exposure of women to sexual violence by renting out land where they can cultivate together and in relative security. Learn More
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