Across the world, women and girls’ rights are affected the most by poverty. From the moment they are born, girls face inequalities and injustice in almost every aspect of their lives. Supporting women and girls as they claim their rights, is the most effective way for communities to lead themselves out of poverty. That is why we put women’s human rights at the heart of all we do.
Women’s Rights Programme
Irish Aid, the government’s programme for overseas development, funds ActionAid Ireland’s flagship Women’s Rights Programme. We prioritise working with the furthest behind first. And so, we work with the most marginalised women in communities in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nepal. The aim is to prevent violence against women and girls and to improve their economic wellbeing, by working with women, girls, boys, men and wider community.
What’s the programme trying to achieve?
Prevent violence against women and girls
Increase safety of women and girls
Improve their economic well-being
Support women’s organisations and activism
Demand accountability for women’s rights
Gender Transformative Programming – A Learning Review
In December 2023 we published a learning review of our Women’s Rights Programme II. Phase II of the programme ran from 2017-2022 and the current phase runs until 2027. Over six years, ActionAid Ireland supported 7,131 women and girls to experience greater safety and empowerment. We engaged 1,930 men and boys as allies to reduce violence and discrimination. And we supported 29 organisations to champion women’s rights.The paper highlighted the key results and learnings from the programme. Read the full paper here.
In phase III of our Women’s Rights Programme, ActionAid will strengthen our survivor-centred approach to ensure key elements are considered in every programme intervention. This includes both hard and soft skills including deconstruction of biases and preconceptions about survivors, clear communication and giving survivors information they need to make informed choices, respecting confidentiality, and investing time and funds in resources and referrals so that they are available to survivors. This guidance will be rooted in an intersectional feminist approach to regularly dissect the structural causes and power imbalances at the root of gender inequalities and abuses. Finally, ActionAid Ireland is also committed to better integrating our programming work with our priorities around gender justice, economic justice and climate justice.
Women’s Rights Programme: Case study
Through the programme, Chief Constance, the only female chief from Taita Taveta county Kenya, worked with local women to identify the issues they faced. She discovered that local women were unaware of their rights and so were not reporting cases of gender-based violence. She also identified a lack of services for women who experienced violence.
Together with Chief Constance we organised online forums to support local women to better understand their rights and enabled them to raise awareness of the issue within their own communities. As a result, there was an increase in women reporting gender-based violence and the county government made additional resources available for services.
Women-Led Solutions to Food Insecurity
We are working with ActionAid Bangladesh to deliver a flagship climate project on improving food security and access to livelihoods in rural Bangladesh. In two climate affected regions, we are working with women and young people on climate resilient agriculture. We designed the project to also build women’s leadership and agency.
The initiatives include training and support for women farmers on resilient farming technique (including soil conservation, crop diversity, seed banks and water management), animal husbandry, leadership, business skills and access to market, as well as awareness on climate change impact.
At the national level, the programme is mobilising women and young women to advocate for the implementation of Agriculture policy 2018, which has specific provisions dedicated to women farmers.
We also support short-term projects. For example, through funding from Electric Aid, we established a concrete block factory run by women in Haiti. It is the first of its kind in the area and is providing employment to local women. In addition, the blocks are for sale in the local area to help families build safer homes that are resistant to shocks and earthquakes. Read more about the project here.
Work in Ireland
Amplify Our Voices
Amplify Our Voices is an alliance of women who have lived or are living in Direct Provision. These women have come together with the support of ActionAid Ireland to communicate their perspectives on what needs to be prioritised for the government to end its inadequate and discriminatory Direct Provision system. So far, the project has delivered a conference on Privacy and Mental Health and executed a successful campaign “My Rights, My Privacy” to ensure more dignified living standards for women living in Direct Provision.
Global Citizenship Education
ActionAid Ireland also has a programme of work in Ireland on global citizenship education. We are members of the Irish Development Education Association and are signed up to their code of conduct for Global Citizenship Education to ensure our resources, formal, non-formal and informal, meet the best possible standards. The annual ActionTalks Speech Writing Competition is part of this programme of work.
Pictured in the heading image is Florence , Executive Director of the ActionAid-supported Tusitukirewamu Women’s Network in Kampala. Florence believes that violence against women and girls must end with her. Photo taken by: Esther Mbabazi/ActionAid