Top gender equality groups and global networks: A primer

By Ma Karen Brutas 29 September 2015

Participants of the Courage to Lead Summit, a conference organized by Vital Voices Global Partnership and The Eleanor Roosevelt Project of the George Washington University. Vital Voices Global Partnership is among the most influential international organizations working to achieve gender equality and in promoting women’s rights. Photo by: Eric Bridiers / US Mission / CC BY-ND

In 1995, world leaders adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which promises to protect and promote the rights of women and girls everywhere. Twenty years later, full gender equality has yet to be achieved in a single country — a U.N. secretary-general report reviewing the implementation of the Beijing platform noted “unacceptably slow” overall progress, with “stagnation” and even “regression” in some contexts.

Despite efforts to realize gender equality, advocacy groups often encounter resistance not just from men but even from some women as well. While pushback has generally stemmed from deeply entrenched practices and cultural norms, the resurgence of fundamentalism is threatening to reverse progress that has been achieved thus far. Further, some governments continue to attempt to water down previously agreed international obligations, particularly in the area of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, under the guise of so-called traditional values or protection of the family.

Women’s groups and organizations are at the forefront of countering this threat, pushing tirelessly for gender to be prioritized in the development agenda. And fittingly, the push for gender equality is now steadily including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community — a group that suffers one of the worst forms of discrimination due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

While there are many large international organizations that are implementing projects and advocating for causes to help empower women and push for their sexual and reproductive health and rights, the groups whose work focuses mainly — some even entirely — on gender equality often have smaller budgets and staff sizes. Nonetheless, they are among the most influential international organizations and networks when it comes to promoting gender equality and women’s rights.

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About the author

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Ma Karen Brutas

Karen is a development analyst at Devex’s survey and advisory services team. She is responsible for conducting special research and consulting projects that focus on development business issues, including donor diversification, market penetration, brand awareness and fundraising strategy. Before joining Devex, Karen worked at several NGOs, where she conducted research, capacity building and policy advocacy on women’s human rights and access to justice.

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