Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights UAF

(in many languages)

Linked with Terry Greenblatt – USA.

(She began working with UAF on June 1, 2008, and officially succeeded co-founder, Julie Shaw, on July 1, 2008).

Urgent Action Fund, as part of women’s rights movements worldwide, supports women’s rights defenders working to create cultures of justice, equality and peace. We provide rapid response grants that enable strategic interventions, and participate in collaborative advocacy and research. We are led by activists, inspired by feminism, and strengthened through solidarity. (Homepage).

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About /COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVES PROGRAMME: The Collaborative Initiatives programme brings like-minded women activists together to share knowledge, skills and information and to strategise on the growth of a strong and sustainable African women’s human rights movement.

It emerged out of the realisation that further to accessing financial resources, women also needed more opportunities to share knowledge, exchange information, and gain access to critical skills. UAF-Africa builds partnerships, leverages its resources and supports unique initiatives to advance women’s rights.

This programme also supports UAF-Africa’s mandate to open up Africa’s silent zones and ensure that all women on the continent can enjoy their human rights without distinction or discrimination. UAF-Africa supports groups working in diverse and challenging areas of the women’s human rights movement such as sexual minorities’ rights.

Activities in the Collaborative Initiatives programme have included:

  • UAF-Africa hosted the SSK Solidarity Forum in February 2005, bringing together Somali, Sudanese and Kenyan women to strategise on how to safeguard the gains for women that emerged from the 2005 Somali and Sudanese peace talks.
  • In collaboration with Africa Community Education Network and Rural Women’s Peace Link, UAF-Africa supported the Maai-Mahiu Dialogues.  Arising from the SSK Forum, women from the Maasai and Kikuyu communities in the Maai Mahiu-Satellite-Olonong’ot area in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province were brought together to discuss a conflict over resources, and to raise awareness about the women’s capabilities in taking leadership to prevent violence.
  • In April, 2005, UAF-Africa partnered with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to generate awareness about the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Included were provision of general information about the ICC; a convening of the Legal and Administration of Justice Committee of the Kenyan Parliament to brief them about the implications of the Bilateral Immunity Agreements proposed by the U.S.; a workshop on the proposed International Crimes Bill; and the development of gender-specific ICC training materials and manuals which will be used to enhance women’s capacities to influence policy and legislative reform.
  • In 2005 the National Service of Gacaca Courts in Rwanda gave UAF-Africa official renewable observer status to monitor the Gacaca courts countrywide. Gacaca is a term derived from Rwandese traditional methods of settling disputes.  Partnering with Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN), UAF-Africa started monitoring the Gacaca process and discovered the diverse and complex views held by women about the Gacaca justice system.  UAF-Africa supported RWN’s awareness raising and mobilisation campaign to increase women’s participation in the Gacaca process.
  • UAF-Africa, together with the Institute of Education in Democracy (IED), Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-Kenya) and the League of Kenya Women Voters sought to safeguard women’s rights during the Kenyan constitutional reform, which was put to a referendum in 2005. UAF-Africa was additionally part of an umbrella initiative known as the Kenya Civil Society Observation Programme, which sought to ensure that the proposed referendum on the constitution would occur in an atmosphere of peace and security.
  • UAF-Africa also partnered with the National Commission on Gender and Development to convene 300 women who represented both sides to discuss the concerns of women and the implications of voting either for or against the proposed constitution, as well as the installation of mechanisms that would enable women to participate safely and effectively in the referendum.  UAF-Africa further partnered with IED to deploy peace monitors in Kenya’s 210 constituencies, send out peace appeals in the local media and host dialogue spaces among opposing camps.  UAF-Africa later directly participated in the referendum process and facilitated emergency response systems to deter violence, electoral fraud, and other irregularities and malpractices that could have negatively impacted on the participation of Kenyan, and especially women, voters.
  • As a human rights organisation, UAF-Africa seeks to expand the discourse on human rights in Africa.  Concerned about the treatment of sexual minorities in East Africa and alarmed about the enactment of new discriminatory legislation and state practices in different African countries that promotes and condones hate crimes against sexual minorities, UAF-Africa convened a round table with other donors in 2005.  The participants reflected on the findings from research commissioned by the Ford Foundation and HIVOS which found that while a number of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights groups exist in the region, they lack adequate support and resources to organise effectively.  On the recommendation from LGBTI groups, UAF-Africa undertook an analysis of the research findings and produced a report that would form the basis of discussions at a national and regional meeting held in 2006.

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