It has been a momentous year for women—a year of impressive achievements but also extreme hardship. Unprecedented crises like the Syrian conflict and the Nepal earthquake have raised women’s and girls’ risk of sexual violence and child and forced marriage. While these threats are intensifying, funding for women’s groups is stagnating or falling. In fact, some governments are actively suppressing these and other civil society organizations.
Yet the women’s movement at the global level holds significant power. Feminist advocates successfully lobbied for gender equality and women’s rights to be at the core of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This is a testament to the collective strength of women’s groups. We’ve shown how persuasive and effective we can be!
At the country level, there was some good news. Guatemala and Malawi increased the minimum age of marriage to 18. Sierra Leone—which has the world’s highest ratio of maternal deaths—legalized abortion. So did Mozambique, on a number of grounds.
Thanks to your support, IWHC and our partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America played a critical role in advancing women’s and girls’ human rights. Here are our highlights for 2015.
Feminists Ensure Gender Equality Is at the Core of New Development Agenda
After three years of intense debate and negotiations, 193 governments agreed to a robust, 15-year development agenda that promises transformative change for women and girls. Feminist groups were deeply involved in this process, and thanks to our collective perseverance, we achieved detailed commitments to advance gender equality and empower women and girls.
President Obama Prioritizes Improving the Lives of Adolescent Girls Worldwide
For the first time, the President has proposed a “whole-of-government” approach—which will require collaboration across agencies—to realize the rights and fulfill the varied needs of adolescent girls. He announced the Let Girls Learn Initiative, which addresses the barriers that keep girls from going to school.
Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution to End Child, Early, and Forced Marriage
In a significant victory for girls around the world, the Human Rights Council adopted its first substantive resolution on ending child, early, and forced marriage, and supporting girls who are already married. IWHC worked closely with our partners and member states to ensure the resolution includes concrete guidance and affirms the right of girls to control their sexuality.
Girl Summit DC Highlights Solutions to Stop Child Marriage
Nearly 200 advocates, policy experts, and U.S. government officials came together at Girl Summit DC, hosted by IWHC, to discuss emerging research on child marriage and share effective strategies for ending the practice. We supported activists and child marriage survivors from Cameroon to participate and share their experiences with members of Congress and U.S. officials.
Activists Across the Globe Shatter Stigma of Abortion
From Brazil to India, our partners are challenging the stigma associated with abortion, using testimonials, creative campaigns, and social media. It is critical to tackle myths and negative rhetoric, which is a major barrier to women accessing safe abortion.
In Peru, Women’s Rights Activists Make Slow but Steady Gains on Abortion
A group of Peruvian activists, including IWHC’s long-time partner Promsex, have advanced the national conversation on abortion. They successfully campaigned to force Peru’s Congress to debate a bill to allow abortion in cases of rape. Although the law wasn’t adopted, our allies raised public awareness and laid the foundation for further progress on reproductive rights.
Experts Share Best Practices on Evaluating Sexuality Education Programs
IWHC and its partner CREA hosted the first convening of its kind for sexuality educators to share their experiences in evaluating the impact of their programs. Participants, representing 26 organizations from 15 countries, examined how comprehensive strategies can challenge gender norms and achieve other positive health and educational outcomes.
Evidence Emerges on Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health
WHO and IWHC commissioned groundbreaking research on the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents as a special supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health. Highlighting both what we know and the gaps, this analysis is critical in helping policymakers and program leaders improve the services and information youth receive.