The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is a global feminist membership organisation that supports movements for gender equity, human rights, and sustainable development.
Over 5000 individuals and organisations from 165 countries across all regions of the world are members of AWID. Our key goal is to support women’s rights organisations and movements so that they can in turn be even more effective in their work. We do this in a number of ways which include holding global Forums every three to four years to bring activists together to create opportunities for collective learning, sharing and strategising.
We undertake in depth research and build knowledge that will support the work of movements.
We are active in international policy spaces and advocate for women’s rights. We mobilise our members for collective actions on urgent issues, and we provide timely multi-lingual information and communications to support the work of feminist movements.
The AWID Forum is the largest recurring event of its kind and brings together feminist activists, donor agencies, development practitioners, grassroots leaders and human rights activists from diverse sectors and regions around the world.
The Forum is a highly relevant global space for feminists, women’s rights advocates, and our allies to come together, share information, strategize and ultimately shape agendas that can influence policy makers, donors, and diverse movements as well.
The theme of this year’s Forum, “Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice’ speaks to the purpose of the 13th AWID Forum which is to create a space for diverse movements across issues and regions to work together in order to build the Feminist Futures we wish to see - a world in which the rights of all peoples are respected, and a world in where we live in synergy with a healthy planet.
The majority of delegates at AWID Forums come from the Global South, and 15 - 20% of the delegates are young women aged 30 and under.
We are a global Forum which is reflected in the great diversity of participants that attend our Forum not just geographically, but in the issues that the activists who attend our Forum work on (which include women human rights defenders confronting extractive industries, and activists working on a variety of issues including climate justice and the environment, bodily integrity and freedoms, challenging religious fundamentalisms, economic justice, and the feminist use of technologies to name a few).
Activists attending the Forum work at different levels (sometimes simultaneously), in communities, at the policy level, and in national, regional and international spaces.
AWID is committed to making its Forums as accessible as possible which includes ensuring interpretation in multiple languages (our plenaries in this 13th Forum will be live audio streamed in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French Arabic and Russian, and 2-3 languages in a large proportion of break out sessions) and making the space welcoming for all delegates.
These are the key elements set the AWID Forum apart as a space that challenges and inspires new participants as well as seasoned veterans within the feminist and human rights movements.
The AWID Forum is also one of the very few spaces internationally that is explicitly cross-disciplinary in its focus and fosters critical conversations. This exchange allows for an intense synergy of ideas that can only happen in face-to-face encounters.
The achievements of the Forums are numerous and include:
- Agenda setting of key issues that affect the work of feminist and women's rights movements, that we all need to build greater knowledge, strategize or change the ways in which we work.
- Supporting new ideas and projects that strengthen the work that our movements do such as the work on women, disabilities and sexualities; and the visibility and support for young feminist and young women organizing.
- Providing a space where new relationships and alliances are created, such as those formed between activists and donors; between activists from different regions that now work together and prior to being at the Forum had never met before.
- Ensure that as Feminist and women's rights organizations we have a space to come together globally in a periodic way, to discuss collectively how the context in which we work has shifted, assess our gains and achievements, our challenges and how to over come them; how we need to change to be more effective together, and how we deepen solidarity and support for each other, to build greater collective power. The Forum is one of the spaces that help us stay current in terms of analysis and strategizing and responsiveness to an ever-changing context/reality that is needed to ensure that our impact is sustainable over the long run.
Choosing Bahia, Brazil as the location for the 2016 Forum was an intentional recognition and celebration of the long tradition of Black and local struggles for justice and liberation in Brazil.
The challenges faced by women in Brazil mirror the challenges faced by women in numerous countries around the world.
Brazilian feminists who have been active in planning this Forum have shared with us the various issues women in the country face which include:
- struggles around racism,
- sexism and misogyny,
- deep economic inequality,
- limited participation of women in politics,
- police brutality,
- ongoing violations to their reproductive rights,
- widespread violence against women, including rape.
In this particular moment a major backlash on democracy in the country, they face increasing repression and loss of major gains of the past decades.
These are issues that activists all over the world in different contexts can also identify with.
We will have over 1800 activists from approximately 120 countries, and all regions of the world attending the AWID Forum.
Unfortunately there are a number of WHRDs who are currently facing travel bans and for that reason are unable to attend the Forum in person.
We shall be holding a number of solidarity actions in support of those activists including Mozn Hassan, who is currently under a travel ban due to her gender justice struggle, and activists from Egypt who are facing risks, threats and intimidation.