We Rise 2023: Louder, stronger, more resilient together!

Imagine this: a get-together where you are surrounded by like-minded feminists, where your voices are heard, your expertise is shared, your knowledge is pivoted into practice, and learning is a form of activism. We have a word for it, and it is We Rise 2023.

In 2023, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) is organizing the first regional learning exchange, “We Rise 2023: Regional Learning Exchange — UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women”, among grantees located in Africa and Latin America who received funding from the UN Trust Fund under the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative for the past three years.

We Rise 2023 takes place in the context of complex, overlapping and protracted crises happening around the world. Since the start of these projects in 2019, civil society and women’s rights organizations have experienced and adapted to numerous global challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to natural and human-made disasters that have given rise to an increase in backlash to women’s rights as well as anti-rights movements and unprecedented levels of violence against women. As these impactful projects come to a close, the group of 55 organizations come together to exchange knowledge and learn from one another on what has worked to prevent and end violence against women and girls while building strong and resilient feminist movements.

We talked to a number of participants about what they are hoping to bring to these discussions, and how their experience can influence actions and inspire global feminist movements in ending violence against women and girls.

“Learning, un-learning and re-learning”

Rodger Phiri, Executive Director of Art and Global Health Center Africa (ArtGlo) focuses on exchanging with activist organizations from both Africa and Latin American regions to enhance the effectiveness of their own initiatives. Representing a women-led organization from Malawi that aims to challenge social norms that perpetuate violence against women while strengthening local grassroots feminist networks, all through an art-based project, Rodger Phiri is particularly looking forward to learning about the “diverse approaches, innovative strategies, successful methodologies and tangible outcomes” from others in the UN Trust Fund community.

Leading a project in both South Africa and Eswatini to address intimate partner violence (IPV), Namuma Mulindi, Policy and Advocacy Unit Specialist from Sonke Gender Justice highlights the “lack of political will” in implementing effective policies related to intimate partner violence as a topic for discussion.

Unique position for transformative change

A staggering figure is that only 40% of all survivors of violence ever reach out for help. Those who do reach out are more likely to seek support from women they see as trustworthy and empowered, often survivors of violence themselves, who are either leading or working with women’s rights organizations embedded in their own communities. Their work has been vital to powering global feminist movements worldwide.

This sobering fact resonates with Morgen Chinoona from FACT Zimbabwe, a faith-based women’s rights organization, which works to address the high incidence of sexual and gender-based violence and HIV infection among women self-identified sex workers and adolescent girls and young women in Zimbabwe. He said, women’s rights organizations, being “closer to the communities”, can usually “bring innovations that resonate with the realities and therefore can meet the needs of the women and girls they serve.”

For Claudine Tsongo, co-funder and coordinator of Dynamique des Femmes Juristes (DFJ) from the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is DFJ’s “duty, obligation, beyond being its mission, to contribute to advancing the cause of women, women’s rights and gender equality.” Over the course of its project, DFJ operated in a context of multiple, overlapping crises in North Kivu province, from COVID-19, to a volcanic eruption, and ongoing civil war, while maintaining its support to the justice sector handling cases of violence.

One Question

When asked what one question they would like to bring up at the convention, grantee representatives do not shy away from addressing tough issues. Here are several key themes emerging from these questions that will be discussed, and dear readers, please add yours through comments on social media!

  • Building and nurturing donor — grantee partnerships beyond project cycle?
  • Effective communications around positive masculinities?
  • Resourcing women-led organizations with long-term, flexible and core funding that caters to the particular contexts they operate in?
  • Effective prevention and response to violence against particularly marginalized groups including self-identified women sex workers, women living with disabilities and those in some of the hardest-to-reach locations?
  • Sustainability and scale-ups of women-led innovations?

Against the backdrop of a turbulent year marked by escalating conflicts and further shrinking of civic spaces, with the lives, bodies, dignity and freedom of women and girls under assault from threats and acts of violence, there must be hope. That hope needs to be led by and centered in the voices and experiences of not only the women and girls who have survived atrocities and are telling us stories, but also of those whose lives we have lost due to violence. We Rise 2023 is the moment to honor their lives, their stories and legacies; it is also a moment to reflect on these past years throughout which collective actions have brought innovation, built resilience, and taught invaluable lessons to deliver systemic solutions to violence against women and girls. Further, the UN Trust Fund and grantees remain vital to women and girls before during and after emergencies.

Join the discussion virtually by tagging us on social media @UNTrustFundEVAW using #WeRise2023.

More information about We Rise 2023 here on our website.



UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women is the only global grant-making mechanism dedicated to eradicating all forms of #VAWG. https://untf.unwomen.org/