Empowerment of women’s rights organisations worldwide
The foundation of our work is the cooperation with women’s rights organisations and activists in our priority regions – since they are the changemakers within their societies. They mobilise and empower women and girls, magnifying their visibility and amplifying their voice. They break through the silence surrounding sexualised and structural violence. They analyse gender discrimination and fight for legal equality, as well as for political representation of women and girls. Strong and committed local women’s rights defenders are necessary in order to ensure ongoing advocacy for the rights of women and girls.
Acting politically, cooperatively and in solidarity
This is not just technically a cooperation with our partner organisations: we work together politically, cooperatively and in solidarity in order to achieve social justice, which needs to be shaped in a manner which is specific to the context and critical of power. We shape our cooperation with our partners based on shared visions and values, and mutual accountability. We acknowledge the independence of our partner organisations and offer them the support they need locally. As part of our joint projects, programmes and actions, we help our partners gain access to funding, specialist advice, organisational development and networking.
Each of our projects is developed together with local partners and stakeholders. We set the following criteria: The project has to support survivors, prevent violence, and/or strengthen feminist action. It has to follow the multi-level approach and a do no harm approach - So, for instance, it must not only benefit a specific group of survivors or exacerbate conflicts.
What is involved in project development:
- Project idea: Partners develop a project idea together with medica mondiale.
- Analysis: An interdisciplinary team discusses the idea: Have all criteria been considered? What would happen if the project was not implemented or if it was implemented differently?
- Application and funding: If the project is supported, medica mondiale looks for funding organisations or checks whether it could fund the project itself. For large projects, a feasibility study is carried out.
- Implementation: medica mondiale accompanies the partner organisations in the implementation and ensures they uphold quality standards and budget stipulations.
- Evaluation: Interim reports, documentation of expenses, and an evaluation at the end of the project all ensure proper use of the funds and the quality.
- Learning process: The results of the evaluation are incorporated into the planning of further projects.
If a co-operation is established, medica mondiale often cooperates with local partner organisations on a long-term basis and provides specialist and organisational advice where necessary. This ensures the establishment of long-term, sustainable structures for women and girls affected by violence.
The work of women’s rights organisations in conflict and post-conflict regions is severely under-financed. However, their commitment is of essential importance for the protection and empowerment of women and girls. The majority of our financial resources are directed to regions where conflict prevails. We consider redistributing funds in this way to be an act of solidarity and contribution to global justice.
It needs a reliable and ongoing commitment to achieve changes in the balance of power and gender relationships. So, we set up long-term projects, programs and core funding to help finance the work of our partner organisations. In addition to these long-term programs, medica mondiale has also established its own funding programme specifically for short-term, unbureaucratic financial assistance. The resources in this Grants Programme are used to offer smaller amounts with shorter funding periods to new partners, to provide emergency relief, or to provide strategic supplementary funding to existing projects. Often, long-term partnerships will arise out of this initial time-limited cooperation.
One of our particularly important activities is the provision of training on the Stress- and Trauma-sensitive Approach (STA) to governmental and civil society institutions, and to networks of feminist experts. We train staff from partner organisations on STA, and we also provide Train the Trainer courses. This includes advice on how to anchor the trauma-sensitive provision of support to survivors and the principles of self-care in the work of governmental institutions. Together with our partners, we continue to develop the Stress- and Trauma-sensitive Approach and work locally, regionally and internationally to ensure that socio-political and critical approaches to trauma are not seen as inferior to clinical approaches.
In order to increase their agenda-setting power and influence, women’s rights organisations need to be resilient and independent. So one of the core fields of activity for medica mondiale is to help our partners gain access to organisational development. We make resources and methods available to them to support institutional development and strategy work, to build specialist capacities, or to draft security concepts. Another priority for medica mondiale is to promote self- and team care, ensuring that women’s rights organisations and activists remain healthy, connected and resilient. Faced with ever more ‘shrinking spaces’ – restrictions in the scope of activity permitted to civil society – this is especially important for women’s rights work.
Strong networks are crucial for increasing political influence. So we support the exchange of expertise across country and regional borders, creating spaces where our partners can meet each other. We promote the establishment of supportive structures, alliances and networks that help like-minded organisations and activists to share specialist knowledge, good practice and strategies. Armed conflict is often carried out across borders, so long-term change also needs this dimension. For this reason, we have identified regions as the focus of our involvement - currently there are four priorities: Southeastern Europe, West Africa, the African Great Lakes Region, and Afghanistan as well as Iraq.