Statement on Systemic Racism and Police Brutality Statement on Systemic Racism and Police Brutality

Solidarity Care Fund

Activism works to create change. Even during a crisis. In the midst of all the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen solidarity in action around the world. Women peace activists have continued to mobilise collective power at the local level which proved essential to providing immediate support but also contributing to conflict prevention and peacebuilding work.

 

To support this work, in April 2020 WILPF set up our first ever short-term Solidarity Care Fund to offer financial resources to Sections and Groups that were working with communities in response to the crisis. We distributed 24 grants which helped members run awareness campaigns and find ways to support their communities to access equipment, food and shelter where governments and other relief programmes were unable to meet the needs of the population. In many countries, members also mobilised to address the rise in gender-based violence and integrated domestic violence information into COVID-19 prevention materials.

 

All this work shows how women are leading, organising locally and how activists are caring, and working tirelessly to prevent violence in diverse contexts. 

 

We are proud to share the videos and pictures on this page to give you a glimpse of the work done by WILPF activists during the pandemic. 

 

Support on a Global Scale

Like other crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, decreased equitable access to essential services and threatened the fulfillment of human rights. In many contexts, that has come against an already difficult economic and social backdrop. 

 

In 2020, the Solidarity Care Fund supported 24 Sections and Groups in the following countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Palestine, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Sweden, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

“The Solidarity Care Fund gave us an opportunity to exercise our autonomy and provide a concrete response to the demands of grassroots women who have been severely affected by COVID-19.”​

Salimata BA, Coordinator of WILPF Senegal Group 

Our Achievements: Advocacy, Awareness-raising, and Action

WILPF members have worked tirelessly to support and advocate for people – particularly women and girls – impacted by the pandemic. They adapted to the circumstances and used their networks to raise awareness, counter misinformation and support people directly affected by the economic fall-out. 

 

WILPF DRC supported community actions including a mother-child health care centre, WILPF Cameroon worked with internally displaced persons and was one of the first organisations to warn of the dangers of stigma and discrimination in the response to COVID-19. In Europe, WILPF Italy worked to support homeless people and refugees during the first lockdown. WILPF Afghanistan organised and advocated with women and girls with disabilities. WILPF members in many countries, including Argentina, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe, raised awareness of gender-based violence and some worked to address domestic violence by creating support mechanisms. In Ghana, Sudan and Senegal, members facilitated awareness sessions for women street vendors who were disproportionately affected by the containment measures.

 

As part of the COVID-19 response, Sections and Groups also stepped up their advocacy and awareness-raising efforts to document the human rights and gendered impacts of COVID-19 and drawn attention to existing root causes and faultlines like conflict, regressive economic reforms, militarism, and patriarchy. This thinking, analysis and activism in the face of different and multiple crises has shown a shared narrative of the causes and brought forward the knowledge of what needs to happen for structural transformation. 

In Afghanistan

Women peace activists in WILPF Afghanistan helped mobilise women’s organisations at the community level in order to ensure that public health education messages on risk and prevention strategies reached all women in the community. The Section printed 2000 information posters in the two local languages (Dari and Pashto) and distributed them throughout Kabul. The Section also created videos and multimedia products to be accessible to people with hearing disabilities.

In Cameroon

In recognition of the specific vulnerability of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) during the pandemic, WILPF Cameroon focused its efforts to support IDPs from the North-West and South-West conflict, perceived as exceptionally vulnerable in large cities such as Yaoundé, Bafoussam, and Douala. WILPF Cameroon distributed necessities, and protective equipment and worked to educate the public and reduce community fear, stigma and misinformation about COVID-19.

In India

To raise awareness of the pandemic, WILPF India organised virtual training events to enable people to learn more about COVID-19. The experience then led the Section to create a brochure that was distributed in 1500 copies in local areas that were not reached by reliable health information. Members of WILPF India also made masks that were distributed in some of the most affected facilities like retirement homes, hospitals, schools and street markets.

In Senegal

WILPF Senegal played an active part in developing a COVID-19 response programme in the country. The programme focused on two aspects in particular, sensitisation and adoption of proper barrier gestures, and advocacy aimed at state authorities. WILPF Senegal called to establish a social protection system that adapts to the situation of women in the informal sector and fosters their inclusion in the new urban development policy.

In Sierra Leone

As the COVID-19 virus reached Sierra Leone, WILPF members realised it was time to take action to support communities in preventing a major breakout. Counting on the experience from the Ebola epidemic in 2014, the awareness-raising programme focused on highly populated areas with poor sanitary conditions. As lockdowns and restrictions made contact with the communities difficult, WILPF Sierra Leone also harnessed social media tools and platforms for awareness-raising efforts.

In Sudan

WILPF Sudan was able to raise awareness of the spread of COVID-19 among female street vendors, who often work in fragile settings. Women peace activists in Sudan distributed protective material and handed out stickers and flyers to raise awareness about the safety measures. The project brought to light the importance of ensuring that women are included in social support nets and can actively participate in the decision-making processes in the context of COVID-19 and future humanitarian crises. 

In Uganda

WILPF Uganda prepared posters with prevention messages which were translated into seven local languages and printed as posters that were distributed and placed in strategic locations in various parts of the country. Women and men peace activists conducted outreach activities in the community by engaging with women community leaders of different groups working in densely populated areas. The project invited the participation of young people who then distributed the prevention guidelines in their communities informing people of the health measures.

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