CMI!'s three thematic areas

Indigenous and rural women, sex workers, lesbian and bisexual women, women with disabilities and HIV. They are among the many women, girls, trans people and intersex people who must confront multiple layers of discrimination. Yet they are playing an essential role in bringing an end to injustice and inequality across the globe. 

Count Me In! supports the voices and activism of women, girls, trans people and intersex people who are often most marginalised by their communities. The Count Me In! Consortium works in the following three thematic areas:

Gender-based Violence (GBV)

Gender-based violence (GBV) is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. It expresses a relationship of power, and is used to enforce and maintain power of some groups over others. Laws and policies frequently do not adequately address GBV, but even when laws on paper are good, they are often not well implemented or enforced. Moreover, changing law and policy is not sufficient to end GBV.

As long as social norms tolerate violence to police women’s behaviour, to punish those who do not conform to gender and sexuality norms, and to advance the agenda of keeping women subordinate, formal laws and policies will not succeed in deterring violence. For example, there are increased efforts to codify religion in public policy and push back against progressive legislative changes. This is taking place both at the national level as well as in the undermining of standards in the international system.

In addition, some forms of violence are less recognised as violence, and these less visible forms are more tolerated. “Marginalised” women – for instance, Indigenous women, women from groups targeted by racism, working-class women, lesbians and bisexual women, disabled women, sex workers, HIV-positive women, girls and young women, and trans* people – have a lower status in society. While women’s rights movements have made progress globally in positioning GBV as a human rights violation, violence remains widespread and tolerated, particularly against those women who are not ‘counted in’ – in terms of how they are treated in their communities and societies.

In addition, the past decade has seen increases in the violence targeting the very women who would seek to change this status quo – women human rights defenders – for their political activism and as a technique to intimidate and to silence dissent. These WHRDs are attacked because of their political work, but also because of their gender; the nature of the attacks is often gendered (e.g., actual or threatened sexual violence, threats again family members). These types of threats and attacks often result in burnout or force women to relocate or discontinue their justice work.

Members of the CMI! Consortium will develop and strengthen the capacity of marginalised women, girls and trans* people to effectively prevent and counter gender-based violence. They will combat GBV by working to change the social norms that tolerate violence, as well as to secure and press for the implementation of law and policy that address violence.

Count Me In! Impact:

Malawi women empower themselves and others to expand access to HIV treatment

Economic Justice

In societies around the world, women and girls are more likely to live in poverty than men and boys. Their enjoyment and control of economic resources is limited. And the work that they do tends to be paid poorly and done in conditions that are often unsafe. Moreover, much of the work that they do – for example, domestic work, migrant work, sex work and work in the informal sector – is not recognised as work and not protected by labour law.

In addition, non-state, often less visible, actors are very powerful in influencing the economic policies that determine how resources in societies are allocated. An emphasis on deregulation, as part of neo-liberal economic policies worldwide, favours and facilitates corporate power and state capture by corporate interests. These interests are generally counter to those of women, girls and trans* people. In this context, women’s labour rights are frequently not recognised (including by unions) or are violated, and local women’s access to the land and natural resources upon which their families and communities depend is severely constrained. Activism by women workers and rural and indigenous women to secure economic justice is frequently met with violence and repression by both private corporate and state forces. Women workers frequently face sexual and other harassment and violence on the job.

In order to advance economic justice and a fairer and more equitable distribution of resources, CMI! members will work in the specific areas of labour rights and land and natural resource rights. CMI! partners will support marginalised women, girls and trans* people to organise to address immediate factors of poverty and inequality, secure labour rights (such as adequate wages and safe and decent working conditions) and protect access to and control over land/property and natural resources. The criminalisation of certain forms of work – such as sex work and migrant work – will also receive focus, as well as attention to the safety and protection of women human rights defenders.

Count Me In! Impact: 

Read: Movements for sex workers’ rights unite to halt an Anti-trafficking Bill in India

Sustainable resourcing

Financial resources are essential for civil society organisations to do their work. Although women and girls have achieved a position on global political and funding agendas, this awareness and interest has not yet translated into significant flows of resources for women’s rights organisations. In practice, the focus on women and girls as drivers of economic growth and development prioritises support to individuals (through scholarships or micro-enterprise) over collective organising, and providing training, technical assistance or in-kind services, rather than putting financial resources in the hands of women and girls. Experience shows that this approach to resourcing has limited impact in contributing to long-lasting shifts in the power dynamics and structures that perpetuate gender inequality and discrimination.

recent survey by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development of 740 women’s organisations across the world found a median annual income of just US$20,000; many organisations reported having to cut programmes or staffing due to limited funding. AWID’s research found that the large majority of women’s organisations remain small – not by choice but because they have difficulty accessing the resources to allow them to implement their programmatic visions and plans. In addition to relatively small budgets, many women’s organisations rely on project support instead of long-term flexible funding, which makes it even more difficult to set their own agendas.

Further, we see that most rights-based funding offered by bilateral or other large donors is not accessible to smaller groups. And funding often favours short-term projects, over providing the core and longer-term funding that supports the resilience needed to secure sustainable social change.

The outcomes of the most recent development finance summit in July 2015 suggest that the issue of funding for women’s rights by governments remains current and pressing, as governments seemed to retreat from commitments made in previous summits, reduce their obligations to finance the Sustainable Development Goals focusing instead on private sector contributions, and restrict even the degree to which women’s rights were factored into discussions – emphasising women’s roles in terms of increasing productivity and growth and largely ignoring the need to find resources to secure women’s economic rights.

Women’s rights organisations sorely need diversified funding bases; this also includes an exploration and understanding of newer actors interested in women and girls, as well as the potential of newer mechanisms, such as crowdfunding, to support women, girls and trans* rights work.

Outside a relatively small circle of funders, the contributions of women’s rights organisations and women’s funds remain unknown or not well understood. This makes it urgent for CMI! to clearly establish their relevance and the value women’s organisations and funds bring to the broader landscape.

The CMI! members and our partners will contribute to an improved enabling environment by advocating for sufficient funding in the donor community to advance the rights of marginalised women, girls and trans* people. CMI! will also conduct strategic lobbying and advocacy efforts within donor communities, including public, corporate and private donor networks and gatherings as well as donor spaces at the UN, OECD and bilateral agency meetings. To inform our efforts, CMI! members will work to build the evidence-base and use strategic communications to make the case for increased and more accessible funding for women’s rights organisations and movements.

CMI! members will engage in direct L&A regarding sustainable resourcing, and this work is most often conducted in what are commonly known as “donor countries” in Europe and in the US. CMI! partners, which will be located and implementing activities in countries that are a priority for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will not be directly involved in the L&A strategy related to sustainable resourcing.

Count Me In! Impact:

Spotlight advocacy – ensuring a seat at the table for feminist movements