At first glance, the Behen Dooj festival in Rajasthan, India might look like some sort of women-only dance party. But a closer look reveals that behind the dancing, singing, and celebration lies some serious feminist activism—and seriously fierce activists. Last October, over 500 single women gathered in Rajasthan for the third annual Behen Dooj bash. The women created the festival as a safe space where they can express themselves freely and share their experiences—something they can’t do publicly because of the stigma associated with living by themselves.
Every day, we are inspired by the human rights activists who demand dignity for the most vulnerable members of their communities. Jan Sahas, based in India, is one such organization. In the face of abuse and intimidation, Jan Sahas champions opportunity for women and girls known as Dalits, or “untouchables.” Because of their low placement in […]
Within India’s diverse and complex social fabric, the Dalit community has long been the country’s most persecuted, excluded and abused population. Deeply entrenched cultural norms and traditional beliefs around caste in India mean that Dalits – currently an estimated 3.4 million in India – are still seen by many as the “untouchables” who are destined to live and work on the fringes of society. Dalit women face the brunt of this discrimination, and routinely face staggering abuse and some of the highest rates of sexual violence, leaving them vulnerable to poor health and extreme poverty.
Dozens of governments are adopting means to limit the activities of NGOs and impede their access to foreign funds. Beijing, for example, just passed a law that restricts the activities of foreign NGOs and subjects them to police investigation. Unfortunately, the Chinese communist party is just one of many governments to do so. Indeed, this law is part of a robust, international trend of similar legislation implemented by politicians that fear the interference of foreigners as well as civil society’s unprecedented capacity to mobilize — which is due in part to new technologies.
Members of the Ariadne-IHRFG Donor Working Group on Cross-Border Philanthropy, including Fund staff David B. Mattingly and Poonam Joshi, discuss the worrying trend around the world of legislation that puts restrictions on funding and narrows the space for civil society organizations.
The Fund supports nearly fifty organizations through its South Asia program in India. Working in such vast and complex contexts has required the Fund to build a strategy based on on-the-ground research and to support organizations that are working on the most cutting-edge issues. India faces several human rights challenges: corruption is entrenched, women’s rights […]
Fund grantee Elgar works with poor communities in an incredibly isolated area of India, helping them press for equal access to land, fair wages and labor rights. Powerful and often corrupt people oppose Elgar’s work, and staff members have been arrested on trumped up charges—an all too common scare tactic. Hear from Paromita Goswami, the head of Elgar, about what it is like to work in this environment.
The Fund identifies organizations that are leading the charge for protection and enforcement of human rights, building on-the-ground demand for change, and feeding into global efforts to press for equality, justice and accountability. Here are a few of our grantees’ accomplishments from 2013.