We are excited to announce six new grantees who are Holding Ground and Breaking Ground for a better world. With The MATCH Fund’s support, they are incubating leadership, protecting LBT rights, enforcing anti-FGM laws, pitching a tent, casting votes, and preventing early child marriage. Keep reading to learn more about Elyne’s chickens, Jay’s courage, and Sushila’s success.
Akili Dada, Kenya
For Akili Dada, underprivileged Kenyan girls are future leaders. The shy high school girl in the bright red school uniform: a future policy maker. The savvy girl with a few chickens: an entrepreneur. And when African girls are equipped as policy makers and entrepreneurs, African women will–finally–be the ones making the decisions that affect African women.
How do we know? The savvy girl with the chickens, for example, is Elyne–an Akili Dada scholar. She sold the birds, purchased saplings, built a bridge, and reclaimed a swampy area in her community. This is exactly the kind of innovation Akili Dada cultivates: Smart. Relevant. Led by girls.
Akili Dada, which translates as “Brain Sister,” is truly a leadership incubator, providing girls with scholarships and seed grants. Programs such as Young Change-Makers and Innovation in Leadership offer workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and opportunities for girls to create change in their communities. This year, with a grant from The MATCH Fund, Akili Dada will provide a number of scholarships to low-income Kenyan girls and will expand their social entrepreneur programming to rural areas and to young girls living with disabilities.
Fem Alliance (FEMA), Uganda
Even though Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act did not pass on a technicality, violence against LBT individuals is on the rise (and harsher anti-homosexuality policies are in the works.) Ugandan lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) individuals often do not seek healthcare for fear of discrimination, homelessness, unemployment, or incarceration.
Fem Alliance (FEMA) creates safe spaces for LBT people who face discrimination and violence due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. FEMA’s three core areas include raising awareness within the LBT community, advocating to reform Ugandan HIV/AIDS policies, and building a safety net of strategic, multi-sector partnerships throughout the country. And, most immediately, in a country where LBT individuals have been lynched, tortured, and mobbed, FEMA practices safety in numbers. When all else fails, Jay, FEMA’s Executive Director says: “we go out and stay with people if they think they’re in danger. We’re always there.”
A grant from The MATCH Fund ensures that FEMA will be there: helping people access healthcare, keeping each other safe, and uniting against discrimination in 2015-2016.
Law and Advocacy for Women (LAW), Uganda
Even though practicing female genital mutilation (FGM) could result in imprisonment for up to 10 years, Ugandan anti-FGM laws are rarely enforced. In fact, rates of FGM have recently increased in some regions. Tragically, reporting FGM is so costly and inconvenient that many girls stay silent before and after their clitoris is removed with a razor.
Law and Advocacy for Women Uganda (LAW Uganda) strives to change this reality by drawing attention to Ugandan practices that discriminate against women and by advocating for the enforcement of existing anti-FGM laws. LAW Uganda trains local women to be paralegals to promote legal and local FGM policing at the community level. These paralegals apply both their knowledge of formal law and their familiarity with the local customs to navigate the unique social and religious context of each community.
Ultimately, LAW Uganda’s work encourages Ugandans to report cases of FGM, and a grant from The MATCH Fund supports the intelligence gathering, investigation, and prosecution of these acts.
Asociación de Mujeres Migrantes y Refugiadas (AMUMRA), Argentina
Argentina’s migrant population is one of the largest in Latin America, with women and children disproportionately facing dangers such as trafficking and sexual exploitation. Ensuring that these women and their families have access to the resources to which they are entitled is a big job. But AMUMRA doesn’t just pitch in. They pitch a tent!
Bringing information, legal advice, and professional counselling to migrant women in remote neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, AMUMRA’s Human Rights Traveling Tent is innovative in its impermanence: every day in a new place, every day with the hardest-to-reach people.
Founded by Peruvian migrants in Argentina, AMUMRA also provides women and their families with information on topics such as human rights, leadership, and employment in eight emergency villages and settlements. This year, with the help of The MATCH Fund, AMUMRA is expanding their traveling tent to new areas and broadening their reach via national radio campaigns.
Corporación Vamos Mujer, Colombia
Colombian women achieved the right to vote in 1954. Despite this hard-won (and relatively recent) gain, the female vote in Colombia has remained stubbornly low during the last four elections. Women’s organizations struggle to position their agendas, especially in rural territories where large-scale projects for mining, water use, and agro-fuels have scorched local livelihoods.
In the Colombian Antioquia region, Corporación Vamos Mujer focuses on women’s political empowerment, bringing together women of different cultures and backgrounds to demand their right to participate in the political process and to live free from violence. Through training, lobbying, and regional gatherings supported by The MATCH Fund, Corporación Vamos Mujer will help women cast their vote in the 2015 municipal elections and participate meaningfully in the ongoing peace process in the country.
Her Turn, Nepal
After participating in a Her Turn workshop, 13-year-old Sushila knew all about the effects of child marriage. But that didn’t stop her family from marrying her off to an older man a few months later. “I was upset and afraid,” Sushila said, explaining the social pressure to marry and the threats she received from her new husband’s family. Just knowing about the impacts of early forced marriage was not enough for Sushila, a child, to take a stand.
But Her Turn could. Because they knew Sushila from the workshop, Her Turn’s Girl Support Committee was able to stage an intervention. Today, Sushila is divorced and back in school. In a country where 41% of girls marry before they turn 18, Sushila is one of the lucky ones.
Her Turn equips Nepali girls and young women with leadership skills, education, and knowledge to reject early forced marriage, domestic violence, sexual violence, and trafficking. And because that sometimes isn’t enough, Her Turn’s Girl Support Committees also collaborate with schools, NGOs, and local governments to advocate on behalf of girls like Sushila. Mentors work with cohorts of girls in local schools to teach sexual and reproductive health as well as physical and emotional safety. This year, a grant from The MATCH Fund will support Her Turn in encouraging girls to go back to school and meeting their safety needs in the post-earthquake context, including workshops on protection from violence and psychosocial support to process the trauma they have been through.