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July 11, 2017

Report: Standing Firm

Women and trans- led groups respond to closing space for civil society

As feminist funds, Mama Cash and Urgent Action Fund know that collective action by women, girls, and trans people is changing the world. The global political and social landscape is becoming increasingly repressive, xenophobic, patriarchal and extremist. It is urgent to provide support to unapologetically progressive and feminist movements led by those most excluded and impacted.

In the discourse on closing space for civil society, we have observed that analyses and discussions do not consistently incorporate a gendered lens. We also know that repressive and violent reactions to their change agendas are not a new experience for the groups we support. Indeed, it is by the very act of speaking out and challenging the status quo that women, girls, and trans people have become the targets of conservative forces and developed the tactics and strategies to resist them. 

This is particularly true for those raising contested issues and working to secure fundamental rights that are criminalised in their specific contexts. These activists have critical expertise and recommendations to share with the broader field. It is in this spirit that we commissioned this research on the gendered aspects of closing space, as a contribution to the philanthropic space and as a tool for other activists to use as they continue to navigate this restricted landscape.

We offer this report as a tool, resource, and testimony to inform the understanding of how closing space, in all its forms, has a gendered impact. Our aim is for this report to bring value to the conversations and collaborations around the closing space phenomenon.

Not surprisingly, the activists we work with emphasised that closing space is not a passing trend, but rather the current and future reality of our political, social and economic landscape. This requires us all to think differently, understand more deeply how our systems are broken, and intentionally apply a human rights lens to our work. In the words of one Russian activist interviewed for this project, “When they shut the door, we come in the window”.

Thank you for your commitment to listening to the voices of women, girls and trans people and for supporting their activism at this critical time in our world.

We stand with them, and invite you to, too.

Read the report: Standing Firm >>
Read the Executive Summary >>