For us, 2021 was a year of multiple crises that taught us the value of feminist solidarity and co-responsibility. We are committed to continuing our support to all women and non-binary human rights defenders across Asia and Pacific in all their moments of crisis and journey to resourcing resilience. By December 2021, we offered financial support to over a thousand women and non-binary human rights defenders and their communities across 20 countries through grants amounting to over US$ 1.99mn. The striking spike in grantmaking (from US$495,000 in 2020) reveals the multiple intersectional crises faced by human rights defenders in countries across Asia and the Pacific.
How did we do this?
We listened and learnt from the defenders, and mobilised resources for them to support their present needs. When we realised our existing grant criteria were not adequate for the support that defenders needed, we devised special grants to help them brace against Covid-19 related difficulties and other intersectional complexities. These special grants, Covid Crisis grants and Wantok grants, accounted for 25% (22% Covid and 3% Wantok) of our grantmaking in 2021, supporting defenders and their communities at a time of livelihood losses, and physical and psychological hardships due to repeated lockdowns, food security.
Where did we most utilize the lessons we were learning in real-time?
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 forced us to review the lessons we learned from responding to the Myanmar coup and its fallout in April 2021. We regrouped internally, to pool our skills, knowledge and resources to work with defenders and their communities in crisis. By December 2021, we processed 211 grants to women and non-binary defenders of Afghanistan.
What did crisis support take the form of?
We supported them with money and networks required to evacuate them to safety, many were supported to flee Afghanistan. Those who could not, were resourced to move to safe houses within the country and secure the safety of themselves and their families. Many were forced to cease their activism and continue their resistance by adopting survival tactics to tide over the immediate crisis, others moved their work to secure online media. Most availed our grants for livelihood support, as they looked for evacuation or alternate ways of communing and resisting the Taliban.
Individual Giving that Supported Human Rights Defense
Several individuals, predominantly women, contributed to supporting human rights defense by donating to our Afghanistan fundraiser campaign, so far we have received over US$50,000 to our Afghanistan fundraising campaign, with several individuals continuing as our patrons contributing on a monthly, quarterly and/or annual basis. We are also grateful for generous giving that flowed in through parallel fundraising campaigns for Afghanistan organized by our sister fund, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights in the US, and Equality Fund in Canada. Several individuals also used their social media handles to amplify our campaigns.
The Power of Feminist Solidarity
A big thank you from the Board and the team of UAF A&P for standing with us. We look forward to building better defenses and support systems for women and non-binary human rights defenders through 2022.
Donate to Support Women and Non-Binary Human Rights Defenders of Afghanistan
Illustrations by Kiran Joan.