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10 Big Wins for Human Rights Activists

Since 2002, the Fund has supported activists in more than 30 countries, providing the financial backing, tools, connections, and emergency support they need to power real change for people whose rights have been abused.

Change isn’t easy—and it doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we offer long-term funding and assistance to local leaders and community activists. We stand with them through tough times and late nights, offering the support they need to continue. And when they win, we celebrate too.

For example, securing a huge victory for LGBTQ people in India. Or developing the next generation of youth leaders in Sierra Leone. Here are 10 recent examples of how our unique approach has fueled real change around the world.



Securing a Landmark Victory for LGBTQ People

For years, a colonial-era ban on same-sex sexual relations had been used to harass and threaten LGBTQ people and activists. In 2018, the provision was declared unconstitutional by India’s Supreme Court. No fewer than six Fund supported organizations were critical to this landmark win.




Granting Basic Labor Rights to Domestic Workers

There are an estimated 2 million domestic workers in Mexico, 90 percent of whom are women. In 2020, Mexico’s government finally made changes which gave basic labor rights such as paid leave and a cap on working hours to this base of domestic workers. This hard-won victory was led by Fund-supported Centro de Apoyo para Empleadas del Hogar (CACEH).




Protecting Sustainable Farms from Irresponsible Development

In 2016, 92 families in southern Honduras awoke to discover a solar energy company was taking over their farms. But in March 2020, the multinational company withdrew from the area. MASS VIDA, a Fund supported volunteer network, had stepped in to provide free legal aid. They filed more than 30 legal complaints and allowed the community to maintain their peaceful protests.




Standing Up for the Rights of Mining Communities

In 2018, the DRC adopted a new mining code that requires companies to share profits with local communities. It gives miners and community members a voice in decision making. Six Fund-supported groups were crucial to its passage through legislative advocacy and collaboration with other civil society organizations.




Ensuring No One is Left Behind during COVID-19

The Fund-supported Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) has been essential throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This Indigenous and women’s rights group, over 60,000 women, provided essential health supplies, food, water, and information to people who had received zero international aid.



Protecting Civic Space During a Pandemic

Spaces for Change (S4C) works to infuse human rights into social and economic policies in Nigeria. With an emergency grant from the Fund, the group helped create a 24/7 hotline providing free legal assistance to citizens and activists whose rights were violated under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions.




Looking Out for Informal Workers During COVID-19

India’s complete nationwide COVID lockdown threatened the lives of millions of informal and migrant workers, who faced loss of income, separation from family, and overburdened housing. In response, the Fund-supported Jan Sahas formed a Migrants Resilience Collaborative. The initiative provided lifesaving, direct relief for more than 1 million migrant workers.




Developing Youth Leaders

The Fund partnered with Purposeful—a movement building hub for adolescent girls in the Global South—to pilot a participatory grantmaking fund. Ten projects were selected focusing on youth-identified needs: combating sexual violence, building leadership of girls and young women, and promoting young people’s skills and livelihoods.



Pushing Back on Restrictions on Free Speech

In 2020, legislation was drafted in Morocco to apparently curb online misinformation about COVID-19. However, this law would have violated people’s right to freedom of expression. Prometheus Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, a Fund-supported organization, successfully campaigned to suspend the draft bill.




Demanding Justice Against All Odds

In November 2020, Family Members of the Detained-Disappeared in Guatemala (FAMDEGUA) helped bring a former special forces soldier to trial for his actions in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre. He faces charges of sexual assault and crimes against humanity for his role in the murder of 205 men, women, and children.


If you want more detail on these 10 incredible wins for human rights and justice around the world, check out the PDF below.

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