Every year on International Women’s Day, we’re flooded with inspirational stories about women around the world—the ones who have blazed trails for others, the ones who fight to change policy, the ones who support their communities every day. More and more in the past few decades, women are organizing for their rights, coming together in groups worldwide to advocate for reproductive justice, an end to sexualized violence and general human rights. There’s a long way to go, though; sexual-assault rates aren’t exactly going down, and a woman is murdered by her partner every two and a half days in Canada. Violence against women—especially Black women, Indigenous women and other women of colour—has been normalized. Here are 10 organizations that are working in Canada and around the world to better the lives of women, girls and assigned-female people.
Association for Women’s Rights in Development
AWID is a global feminist organization dedicated to working with governments and others in power to work toward a more feminist future. They focus on building economies that empower people who have historically been disenfranchised and funding resistance efforts, with gender justice being at the forefront of everything they do.
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter is an organization fighting for the rights of all Black people. It’s run mostly by women and trans or gender-non-conforming people, meaning the issues impacting these folks are at the centre. The group advocates for anti-racist policy and policing and for justice for the families of Black people who have been killed by police. They’ve also pushed for Pride to be a safe and inclusive space for Black folks.
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Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform
Sex work is legal in Canada, but only insofar as a person is allowed to sell sexual services. In most instances, however, it’s illegal for clients to actually buy those services, and it’s illegal for sex workers to advertise them. This means that their work is pushed into literal dark corners, and when workers are hurt or assaulted on the job, it’s next to impossible for them to report it and/or seek help without fear of reprisal. It also makes it difficult for people who have been trafficked to report. The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform is a coalition created by and for sex workers; together, they advocate for decriminalization so that workers can organize in ways that will help keep them safe.
IMpower was developed in Kenya as a joint effort between anti-rape organization No Means No Worldwide and Ujamaa Africa, a Kenyan NGO dedicated to the rights of vulnerable women and children. It is a 12-hour course that teaches girls how to defend themselves and, crucially, teaches boys how to ask for consent, recognize sexualized violence and intervene when they see it.
Native Women’s Association of Canada
There is ongoing genocide against Indigenous women in Canada—according to advocates, around 4,000 to 5,000 women, girls and two-spirit people were reported missing or murdered between 1980 and 2012—and there is also a disproportionately higher chance that they’ll end up in federal prison. The Native Women’s Association of Canada is a non-profit that’s working to change that; it includes voices from a number of nations and highlights Inuit, First Nations and Métis women’s concerns.
When folks in the West hear about female genital cutting, the response is usually shock. It’s still practised in at least 45 countries around the world, though, including Canada. Orchid Project is a U.K.-based NGO aiming to stop this practice by raising awareness, working with local grassroots organizations and influencing public policy.
Planned Parenthood, a trusty organization that’s been around for over 100 years, helps people in the U.S. and Canada (as well as in some African and Latin American countries via local partners) to enact decisions about their reproductive choices. They offer abortions, contraception and prenatal care, among other sexual-health-related services.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the largest anti-sexualized-violence organization in the U.S. It provides comprehensive statistics about sexual assault, from who is most likely to experience it and who is most likely to commit it to the areas in which it is most likely to take place. These efforts help illustrate the scope of the problem. RAINN also created the National Sexual Assault Hotline together with over 1,000 sexual-assault service providers across the country and runs programs to prevent sexualized violence and help survivors.
She Should Run
For those who want to change the system from the inside, She Should Run might be just the thing. This non-partisan, non-profit organization wants to “dramatically increase” the number of women in public office. It has provided education, training and support to over 18,000 women wanting to run, prepping them for what to expect and how to campaign.
Time’s Up began in the wake of #MeToo, when survivors everywhere rose up to tell their tales of sexual assault and harassment. Women around the world spend an inordinate amount of time trying to dodge this type of treatment and/or surviving its aftermath, and Time’s Up is a non-profit pushing for an end to that—specifically in the workplace—by raising awareness and advocating for change in legislation.