Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

5 things funders should know about the impact of human rights activism

November 20, 2019

Fund for Global Human Rights horizontal logo

Measuring the effectiveness of a grant can be tricky – it’s often hard to see the real impact of the work activists do. But the need is as great as ever. People who defend human rights face mounting challenges around the world: restrictive laws, patchy public support, physical and digital threats, and attacks from organised crime, corporate interests and religious fundamentalists. In this moment, it’s critical that funders in the international arena stick with their frontline grantees.

At The Fund for Global Human Rights, we’ve spent more than fifteen years supporting such activists. Through this, we’ve learned five key lessons about how to measure the effectiveness of grassroots human rights work – takeaways that, in this challenging global environment, all supporters of grassroots activism can use.

1. It’s not about the numbers

People hostile to human rights and their defenders are spreading mistrust about civil society, so funders and activists are being pressed to demonstrate more wins, bigger gains and higher figures. But activism isn’t a numbers game – the changes we achieve can’t always be quantified. To understand what drives progress we have to look beyond the numbers that funders often use to measure success: how many schools were built, say, or how many people attended a workshop or community meeting. Three new schools don’t guarantee equal opportunity for all pupils. And high turnout at a meeting does not mean the information shared was useful or later applied.

For example, the Fund recently brought together migrants’ rights activists from North Africa, Latin America and the US to form alliances, share learning and discuss better ways to protect the rights of child migrants. We aren’t measuring the success of that convening by counting how many people attended. The real impact comes afterwards, when participants return to their work with fresh ideas, new contacts and strengthened resolve. Numbers alone don’t tell that story.

2. Change takes time

Movements aren’t built in a day – or by a one-year, one-off grant. Philanthropic organisations often award short-term, restricted funding and measure impact project by project. But real progress requires flexible financing over the long term.

Look at a recent landmark moment for India’s LGBTQ movement. In September 2018, India’s Supreme Court struck down a provision in the country’s penal code that essentially outlawed same-sex relations and encouraged discrimination by criminalising “carnal intercourse” as “against the order of nature”. That victory was the result of decades of work by Fund grantees like Ondede-Swatantra and Vikalp Women’s Group, as well as other courageous activists who campaigned tirelessly to defend the fundamental rights of LGBTQ people. For more than a decade, the Fund has stood with and supported these remarkable activists with long-term, flexible financing and other forms of continued strategic support. The years of renewed support paid off when they achieved an historic victory. Would this incredible success have been realised if, half-way through a protracted legal and social battle, funders had pulled their support?

3. Measuring failures and setbacks is key

Learning from adversity can bring more insight than analysing a victory. The entire human rights community can learn from transparent reporting and honest assessment.

For example, during a visit to a grantee in Myanmar, Fund staff observed that no women were participating in meetings. We raised this issue with our grantee, and thanks to our long-term support and close working relationship they trusted us enough to have a frank discussion about it without fear of reprisal. The activists explained the challenges they face due to cultural norms in gender roles, but also took responsibility for their failure to prioritise gender parity. As a result, far from terminating the grant-making relationship, we’re providing them with additional resources, such as exchanges with women’s rights organisations, in order to adopt a strong feminist approach. We’re also undertaking a gender audit of the Fund’s entire Myanmar programme, because we believe that more inclusive organisations and movements are more powerful. Failure can be a bitter pill, but measuring and learning from it is essential.

4. Little victories add up to big results

Real progress is often the result of many small steps. Not every success story makes the news, but incremental victories can amount to lasting, systemic change. Take Fund grantee the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines, or LAGABLAB, as an example. Although the Congress of the Philippines failed to pass a national Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill last year, LAGABLAB’s members still managed to mobilise a faction of equality champions in government and inspired eighteen cities, six provinces and three local districts to pass their own anti-discrimination ordinances. These victories at the personal or local levels pave the way for larger national outcomes – and they should be celebrated, too. By investing in incremental change, we’re building the foundation for something larger.

5. Context matters

Measuring impact can be like comparing apples and oranges. Success looks different everywhere, and positive social change in one environment might not even be possible in another. The Fund awarded its first grants to Tunisian human rights organisations in 2004. Long stifled by the administration of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisian civil society received little support from US and European funders. We recognised that under Ben Ali’s brutal rule many local groups had necessarily modest ambitions. So for years we supported besieged human rights organisations, helping to keep their lights on and operations afloat. We understood that making an impact in Tunisia meant maintaining a nascent human rights movement that would be able to step forward when the time came. Less than six months after a discouraging Fund visit to Tunisia in October 2010, that opportunity arrived. Popular protests overthrew the Ben Ali regime, human rights activists were welcomed back into public life and civil society emerged to help build a new Tunisia based on dignity and equality. That movement existed, in part, because we recognised that its survival through a difficult period was a victory in and of itself. Using context to set realistic expectations ensures that every activist receives the right support.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/frontline-insights/5-things-funders-should-know-about-impact-human-rights-activism/

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/10/22/carnegie-paper-international-community-must-redouble-efforts-to-defend-human-rights-defenders/

and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/18/important-report-to-help-you-understand-human-rights-grantmaking/

Call for Consultancy for Strategic Plan for AfricanDefenders

July 30, 2019

Call for Consultancy to develop a Strategic Plan for AfricanDefenders.

The scope is to develop Strategic Assessment report recommendations and a five years Strategic Framework for AfricanDefenders for the period of 2020 to 2025. The scope and focus of the assignment is to provide technical, strategic and facilitation support to enable the development of AfricanDefenders’ strategic plan. Develop an analysis framework and work plan to guide the assessment.

The Consultant will conduct a thorough but focused assessment of AfricanDefenders’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, with a view to identifying appropriate strategic options for the 2020 to 2025 operational period. The assessment will include review of relevant documents, in particular the Kampala Plan of Action for Human Rights Defenders+10, the Paris Plan of Action, the Marrakesh Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Zanzibar 2019 Final Communique. In addition to existing project documents, strategic plans of key partner agencies, donor organizations, and related domestic and international reports.

The consultant will also develop the following:
1. Online/offline survey for AfricanDefenders members and stakeholders and beneficiaries;
2. Conduct individual interviews with key informants; and
3. Facilitate in-depth focus group/facilitated discussions using web-based technologies and/or teleconferencing.

The tasks under this assignment are to be undertaken in a maximum period of 30 working days. A draft as well as final strategy will be presented to the Steering Committee of the AfricanDefenders. The location of the assignment is flexible, but part of the work will be in Kampala, Uganda and most probably the validation in Banjul, The Gambia.

QUALIFICATIONS

The Consultant(s) is expected to:
• Have professional experience of work in the human rights sector in Africa.
• Be Fluent in spoken and written English and French.
• Knowledge in Arabic or Portuguese is a high added advantage.
• Be willing to travel to Kampala and other focal countries and be available to meet with partners.

The Consultant(s) are requested to submit a project proposal (outlining the tools, methods and sampling model to be used) and comprehensive indicative project budget as part of their motivation and application for consideration.

Submitting your application
Please send your application to jobs@defenddefenders.org with the subject line “AfricanDefenders Consultancy” by 30 August 2019. Your application should include your CV and past experience, budget, work-plan and 3 references for similar work undertaken. Do not send copies of certificates or degrees.

Call for Consultancy to develop a Strategic Plan for AfricanDefenders

Nobel Women’s Initiative: “Defending the defenders!” 24-26 April 2015

April 20, 2015

The conference “Defending the defenders!”, hosted by the six women Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, will bring together 100 women human rights defenders and organizations working to support them in order to advance the global agenda to protect women’s human rights defenders. During two days, participants will examine trends of threats that women all over the world face, and the strategies they employ to address these threats.

The conference is designed for maximum interaction, learning from each other, open dialogue and strategizing. It will include panels, participant-led discussions, skill-related workshops and strategy sessions. Participants will be able to showcase their work, including relevant films and documentaries, and have time to socialize and reconnect with each other. Invited participants will be women who are:

• Civil society activists and women human rights defenders from at least 20 different countries
• Academics
• Government officials
• Corporates
• Donor organizations and philanthropists
• Media (including journalists, filmmakers, writers and social media experts)

From 24-26 April 2015 in Duin & Kruidberg, Netherlands

Participation is by invitation only!

Defending the defenders! Building global support for Women Human Rights Defenders – WO=MEN.

‘Rights up Front’ presented by Jan Eliason: “It is irrefutable that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of atrocities”

December 26, 2013

(Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Still haunted by its failure to forestall genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica nearly 20 years ago and confronted by ongoing bloodshed in Syria and the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations is revamping its preventive strategies under a new initiative called ‘Rights up Front.’ “The need for early action, and the crucial role of responding early to human rights violations, is at the heart of theRights up Front’ initiative,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told an informal session of the General Assembly on 17 December 2013 – as he presented a six-point action plan.

It includes training UN staff on the world body’s core purpose of promoting respect for human rights; providing Member States with the information needed to respond to human rights violations; and ensuring that UN personnel around the world are more attuned to situations where there is a risk of serious human rights abuses and are equipped for the responsibilities that such potential crises entail.

The strategy, initiated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also includes achieving a more coherence by strengthening engagement with the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and providing earlier and more coherent support to teams on the ground before a crisis emerges; and better organization of human rights staff so that they can identify risks of serious violations of human rights that could lead to atrocities.

Finally, underpinning all these activities will be better information management on threats and risks to populations for planning operational activities and for sharing with Member States.

“. ..It is irrefutable, and needs repeating, that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of impending atrocities.” Eliasson said. “If we fail to act early, the human, political and economic costs can be devastating as we know far too well. This calls for a more alert, flexible and coordinated UN System, both on the ground and at headquarters.”

Horrendous events led us all to say ‘never again’, Mr. Eliasson said. “We said we would have to do more to prevent serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Despite much effort, since 1995 hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of mass atrocities and tens of millions have been displaced.” But steps forward have been taken. “World leaders endorsed the ‘responsibility to protect in 2005. And Member States have over the years articulated an increasingly detailed agenda for the protection of civilians,” he said. Yet, the crises in Syria, where over 100,000 people have now been killed and 8 million driven from their homes in the nearly three-year civil war, and in CAR, where thousands have been killed and over 600,000 displaced in a conflict increasingly marked by inter-communal clashes between Christians and Muslims, are reminders that serious human rights abuses are often the clearest early warning of emerging conflict, he added.

“When people in today’s world are at risk or subject to serious violations, they expect and request the United Nations to act – and we do,” Mr. Eliasson declared. “However, in practice, our response to crisis often comes when a situation has deteriorated to the point where only a substantial political or peacekeeping mission can deal with the problems.”

via United Nations News Centre – New UN ‘Rights up Front’ strategy seeks to prevent genocide, human rights abuses.

 

Protection International held international HRD meeting in Kenya in November

December 21, 2013

The Brussels-based NGO ‘Protection International’ held a Global meeting, from 18  to 22  November 2013, bringing teams from the field and its Brussels headquarters together in Mombassa, Kenya. The meeting was an opportunity for teams from Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Thailand to exchange and compare their experiences, strategies and knowledge on security management and the protection of defenders. During the meeting topics were addressed such as the conceptual framework for research on community protection networks, the psychosocial care of human rights defenders, and the use of outcome mapping to strengthen the monitoring of the work done with communities and civil society organizations. The contents of a “Facilitators Guide on protection for human rights defenders” – to be published in early 2014 – was also discussed.  [The Global Meeting follows an earlier Latin American Regional Meeting held in August in Guatemala]

via PI Global Meeting in Kenya: Strengthening Protection networks | | Protection InternationalProtection International.

Ford Foundation Grants $6 Million to Seven Organizations to Reshape the Global Human Rights Movement

September 24, 2013

On 18 September the Ford Foundation announced $6.25 million in grants to seven leading human rights organizations that will strengthen and diversify the global human rights movement. The 7 grants focus on human rights organizations that operate in numerous countries and international forums, underscoring the foundation’s long commitment to supporting collaboration. Combined with a five-year, $50 million initiative announced last year to support human rights organizations based outside Europe and the United States, Ford is spurring innovative thinking about the way the global human rights system functions and its capacity to address 21st century issues such as economic and social inequality.

The human rights movement has arguably been the most effective and wide-reaching social movement of our time,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “But the movement faces a notably different set of challenges today than it did even 15 years ago, along with a new set of opportunities for advancing human rights in today’s world. The grants we make today will enable these institutions to more actively adapt, diversify and retool the way the movement works for all of us.

The seven grants announced today will support: Read the rest of this entry »

Resources used by Human Rights Defenders to create effective strategies are collected by New Tactics in Human Rights

March 29, 2013

Strategic thinking is a discipline used in all types of work. In order to build a house, you need a plan. In order to win votes to get elected for a political position, you need a plan. Human rights work is no exception – in order to make change, you need a plan and hopefully, it’s a good one!. New Tactics in Human Rights wants to build a collection of stratHomeegic-thinking resources and tools for human rights defenders to help in the selection and application of successful tactics. They have been working closely with human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa region to share a methodology to apply strategy and tactics to human rights work, and are eager to share with you the tools they have been using.

Coming soon: 11-15 February on-line conversation on the UN Human Rights Council

February 8, 2013

You can join the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the New Tactics online community for an online conversation on Engaging the United Nations Human Rights Council from February 11 to 15 2013.ISHR-logo-colour-high

When utilized strategically, the HRC can be a powerful force for change. There are several different ways that human rights organizations can engage the HRC, including: providing reports for the Universal Periodic Review, sending complaints to the Special Procedures, and raising situations of human rights violations in the plenary sessions of the HRC. The key is to know when to use which approach, and how to maximize your efforts.

This online conversation will be an opportunity to exchange experiences, lessons-learned and ideas among practitioners who have successfully engaged the HRC.  The HRC starts its main session on February 25.

For help on how to participate in this conversation, please check out these online instructions.

Conversation Leaders:

Heather Collister's picture

Heather Collister
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
m.ineichen@ishr.ch's picture

Michael Ineichen
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
PaolaSalwanDaher's picture

Paola Salwan Daher
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies