Get to know one of the Fund’s newest grantees: Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation—or GWAVE—is a Filipino organization that provides legal aid, crisis counseling, and empowerment programs for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Their pioneering men-speaking-to-men program encourages men to be effective allies, advocates, and supporters of women’s rights. As a feminist funder, we’re thrilled to be supporting their critical work in the province of Negros Oriental.
GWAVE was officially formed in 2002 as a support group for survivors of rape. They’d started working together a year earlier to offer legal assistance to one young survivor pursuing justice. But after witnessing the prejudice and blatant biases that she faced in the court system, they recognized the urgent need for sustained advocacy and readily available support.
According to a 2017 survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority, more than 25 percent of Filipino women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence by a husband or partner. Only a third of those women have sought help. And women from marginalized groups—especially migrant workers—are even more vulnerable to abuse and violence.
Since their founding as a support group for survivors, GWAVE’s mission has expanded to include making the justice system more accessible and responsive to women and girls, partnering with local government agencies to address gender inequality, developing programs for survivors to become active advocates, and promoting men’s involvement in ending gender-based violence.
“GWAVE’s programs are driven by women impacted by gender-based violence, and women are at the forefront of their advocacy efforts. But even though men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of gender-based violence, the toxic norms and power structures that perpetuate domestic violence harm everyone. GWAVE is finding new, important ways for men to be included in the solution,” says Vice President for Programs David Mattingly.
With the Fund’s support, GWAVE is stepping up their work this year with one group that is especially impacted by gender-based violence: women migrant workers. Overseas labor is a pillar of the Philippine economy—more than half of migrant workers are women who go abroad to earn a more stable income for their families. Although they’re hailed as heroes, women migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and often face violence—even at the hands of their partner before they leave. By conducting research on the attitudes and behaviors that drive violence at each stage of the labor migration process, GWAVE is not only responding to violence against women migrants but developing preventative measures as well.