Introduction

Thanks to you, in 2023, we celebrated 30 years of our mission supporting women survivors of war and conflict.

In the last three decades, Women for Women International’s (WfWI) work has spanned 17 countries, reaching 579,287 women who dare to stand up for their rights — even in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. And this year alone, alongside with our partners we’ve reached over 39,600 women survivors of war together – supporting them to rebuild their lives, families and communities.

Even as conflicts rage across the world, our combined commitment to women and the power of each woman we serve continues to give us strength and hope.

As we present our 2023 Annual Report, we invite you to read about some of these daring women around the world and the remarkable results we were able to achieve in the many countries we serve, including four new ones. We are forever grateful to have you by our side, making all this possible!

Thanks
to you

579,
000
Cumulative women and
girls reached*
39,
000
Women/girls
reached in 2023**
00
%
Increase in earnings
in 2023***

* SWSN program + microcredit + through partners from program inception through 2023.

** All SWSN program participants who were active in the program at any time during 2023, including sister organization and partners and non-SWSN targeted interventions offered by WfWI, sister organizations or partners.

*** This data point does not include Afghanistan.

Message from
Laurie Adams,
CEO

More than 68 million people were forced to leave their homes at the end of 2023. From the outbreak of wars in Sudan, Israel, and Palestine, to increased fighting in many of the countries where we’ve been working for years such as the DRC and Nigeria, to natural disasters in Afghanistan where women already experience severe restrictions, 2023 brought unimaginable suffering and loss for women and their families.

Your unwavering belief in our mission and the deep resilience of women survivors of war keep us motivated and allowed us to not only serve more than 30,000 women in our signature year-long program, Stronger Women Stronger Nations (SWSN) but to also reach 9,000 more through partnerships with local women’s rights organization at the frontline of active conflicts. We innovated ways to make our Men’s Engagement and Change Agent programs more impactful and piloted a program specifically designed to cater to the needs of adolescent girls. We consulted thousands of women directly impacted by conflict and shared their views by bringing local women’s rights activists to the world stage in New York and Dubai, growing our advocacy at the local, regional, and global levels.

In 2023, we also attested to the success and impact of our work – not only directly in the lives of women in the program – but also on the broader family and community, prompting us to now invest more in how we not only capture but encourage ‘the ripple effect’ of our program. A phenomenal example of the ‘ripple effect’ this year comes from Nigeria, where graduates from our program proudly took it upon themselves to establish classes for other women in their community. We also saw local partners there and in Syria deliver an adapted version of our SWSN program.

I am very proud of the transformation we achieved organizationally this year, unifying and internationalizing our leadership at both staff and board levels. Our new International Board, launched in June, now includes leaders from all the regions we work in, not just from where we raise support – all highly experienced, skilled, and deeply committed to our mission. This diversification and internationalization reflects our strong belief in growing a global grassroots movement in which those directly impacted are leading change. In a similar vein, we reimagined our traditional ‘sponsorship’ model, rebranding it to ‘Stand With Her’. The new name and revised program which launched in early 2024, encapsulates the solidarity and equality aligned with our ethics to support and stand alongside our sisters.

In 2023 we launched a global campaign called #SheDares to galvanize support for women survivors of war who stand up for their rights and bring change, despite the risks. It is a celebration of the bravery of all women: our friends, our families, ourselves.

I am grateful to each and every one of you who has joined us – it is you, our global community of supporters, that made it possible to reach close to 600,000 women since we were founded 30 years ago. Thank you for continuing to invest in women’s resilience.

In Solidarity,
Laurie Adams, CEO

Read More Show Less
Meet the Women
Who Dare
Despite a ban on education, Amina dares to teach women in Afghanistan.
Amina, from Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Amina dares to stand up for women’s rights. Women have been virtually erased from public life over the past two years: banned from parks, gyms, restaurants, most jobs, and education. Opposing these restrictions is incredibly dangerous, but Amina dares to keep teaching in our training center. She braves the constant scrutiny of government authorities, and she dares to spread the word that education should be the right of every woman and girl.

Read her story
From surviving violence in Rwanda to making world famous soccer balls, Grace dares to shoot for her dreams.
Grace, from Rwanda

Amid violence and poverty following the genocide against the Tutsis, Grace dares to build a better life. She is pursuing a business venture in a small Rwandan community, an innovative project to make soccer balls that captured the heart of the head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino. Her idea has provided opportunities for the women in her savings group and demonstrates the power of resilience. Grace dares to overcome adversity and create positive change in her community.

Read her story
Standing up against injustices, Marie Jeanne dares to spark change by speaking up.
Marie Jeanne, from the DRC

The involvement of women in decision-making processes is essential for a balanced and equitable society. However, men are in control of the decision-making in Marie Jeanne’s community in DRC. Women are not given the opportunity to share their ideas and concerns during community gatherings. Marie stood up against this and other injustices. She dares to spark change by speaking up.

Read her story
Escaping an abusive marriage, Chisimdi dares to take on child traffickers in Nigeria.
Chisimdi, from Nigeria

Despite years of violence at the hands of her partner, Chisimdi had the strength to raise and provide for her four children. After leaving the relationship behind, she regained her voice and courage. #SheDares to stand up against child trafficking, even boldly standing in front of the village chief to advocate for the rights of women.

Read her story
Pursuing safety for her family amidst conflict, Faizah dares to rebel against ISIS warnings.
Faizah, from Iraq

Faizah has always been brave – even aged 13, when her uncles tried to force her into marriage. So, when ISIS attacked her community and warned her not to flee, she harnessed that defiance and dared to find safety. Faizah dreams of a world without war; of peace for her children.

Read her story
Despite hardships as a single mother, Suzan dares to defy family pressure to ensure her daughter's education.
Suzan, from South Sudan

War has taken so much from Suzan – loved ones, financial security, stability – but she has always fought to protect her children. When her daughter became pregnant and faced forced marriage, Suzan dared to defy her family and communal pressures. And now, she helps others dare to do the same.

Read her story
30 Years of
Impact

Three decades ago, one woman dared to turn a moment of outrage into a movement. Today, that movement has turned into a global community supporting over 579,287 women survivors of war and conflict around the world.

During the Bosnian War, in the early 1990s, an estimated 50,000 women were subjected to sexual violence, while countless others faced the loss of loved ones and homes. Appalled by what was happening in Bosnia, Iraq war survivor Zainab Salbi and Palestinian-American Amjad Atallah, who is now WfWI’s Board Chair, knew they had to act. They founded the organization in 1993 with the belief that combining financial support with empathy and connection helps restore dignity and hope.

As conflicts spread across Kosovo, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, so did our work, reaching women in Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many other countries.

We feel a sense of pride at how we’ve continuously evolved and improved our work, based on our rigorous evaluations, and from listening directly to the women we serve. Over just the last five years, we’ve more than doubled the number of countries we work in – from 8 to 17 – primarily through partners who are at the frontlines of working in acute conflict zones and who share our values and our approach.

By 2030, with your continued support, we aim to reach one million women worldwide.

30 Years of
Impact

Three decades ago, one woman dared to turn a moment of outrage into a movement. Today, that movement has turned into a global community supporting over 579,287 women survivors of war and conflict around the world.

During the Bosnian War, in the early 1990s, an estimated 50,000 women were subjected to sexual violence, while countless others faced the loss of loved ones and homes. Appalled by what was happening in Bosnia, Iraq war survivor Zainab Salbi and Palestinian-American Amjad Atallah, who is now WfWI’s Board Chair, knew they had to act. They founded the organization in 1993 with the belief that combining financial support with empathy and connection helps restore dignity and hope.

As conflicts spread across Kosovo, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, so did our work, reaching women in Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many other countries.

We feel a sense of pride at how we’ve continuously evolved and improved our work, based on our rigorous evaluations, and from listening directly to the women we serve. Over just the last five years, we’ve more than doubled the number of countries we work in – from 8 to 17 – primarily through partners who are at the frontlines of working in acute conflict zones and who share our values and our approach.

By 2030, with your continued support, we aim to reach one million women worldwide.

2023
Global
Highlights
Afghanistan

In 2023, despite severe restrictions imposed on Afghan women, we were able to enroll 1,750 women in three provinces in Afghanistan and 1,854 women successfully graduated from the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations (SWSN) program. We’re adapting to the new situation, and all newly enrolled women will be receiving cash assistance in 2024 to support their small business endeavors as well as urgent household needs. Additionally, we offer psychosocial support education as part of the SWSN program via psychological first aid training to help address the heightened mental health needs of women in the program.

At the end of 2023, WfWI-Afghanistan began emergency response efforts for women impacted by the devastating earthquake in Herat, and for women in Torkham, where thousands of Afghan women, displaced from Pakistan, face an uncertain future. WfWI-Afghanistan plans to begin emergency support activities via local partners in both locations starting in early 2024.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), our sister organization Žene za Žene International (ZzZ) has been working to increase the social and economic opportunities of rural women through their formalized network that is comprised largely of SWSN graduates, known as the Network of Women’s Associations for Rural Development (Rural Women’s Network). This year, ZzZ reached 1,027 women members of the Rural Women’s Network, who are members of 19 women’s small business associations spreading across BiH. This year the work included trainings in Information and communication technologies skills, strengthening the capacity of the Network so it can function as an autonomous organization, advocacy trainings and implementation of advocacy action plans.

Rural Women’s Network meeting. Credit: ZzZ
Rural Women’s Network meeting. Credit: ZzZ
DRC

In 2023 and in response to requests by local women, we started a pilot to support women to set up individual or small group (with two or three women) businesses and the provision of a cash grant. The pilot aims to measure the success of these smaller groups when compared to bigger business groups, typically of 15 to 20 women. The cash grant is designed to cover the initial costs of starting the business, with the aim of setting women up for success. The pilot also includes participants receiving mentorship support from local successful businesspeople. So far, the results have been promising with women showing more engagement and motivation, when compared to bigger business groups, and there are promising signs of business success.

The DRC have been piloting WfWI’s newly revised and improved Men’s Engagement Program (MEP) curriculum in the community of Kaniola, South Kivu, with 164 men. To date this has seen some notable changes in the behavior of men. Following an initiative by local women to support a disabled member of their group to improve her house, the men in the community, enrolled in the MEP, decided to each contribute to repair the walls and house for this woman. It demonstrates men taking action to support vulnerable women and working to support the initiatives of their wives, mothers, sisters and family members.

MEP training. Credit: WfWI
MEP training. Credit: WfWI
Couple’s dialog session. Credit: WfWI
Iraq

In 2023, we piloted a new approach to the Change Agent training in Iraq to try and engage different types of women in the communities we serve. Typically, the Change Agent Program builds the advocacy and leadership skills of women that have graduated from our 12-month SWSN program. However, through this pilot, we also tested the Change Agent Program with women that have not participated in SWSN, referred to as non-graduates. We trained 78 women as Change Agents, including 38 non-graduates, through this innovative approach, giving us the opportunity to learn what the different outcomes are for SWSN graduates and non-graduates. Women are working hard to implement their action plans, conducting awareness raising and meetings with key stakeholders to transform unequal social norms and policies that affect women in their communities.

In June, WfWI-Iraq enrolled 200 men into the MEP in Mosul. This is the first cohort in Iraq to be piloting the newly updated MEP curriculum, which has been expanded from three-months to six-months. Through this project, 25 men and their spouses – who are simultaneously enrolled in the SWSN program – will also take part in couples dialogue sessions to support couples to communicate in a healthy way and aim to provide a more enabling environment for women at the household and community level. This will be the first time that couples dialogue sessions have ever been implemented in Iraq.

Program participants during graduation ceremony. Credit: WfWI
Program participants during graduation ceremony. Credit: WfWI
Program participants during graduation ceremony. Credit: WfWI
Kosovo

This year our sister organization in Kosovo, Kosova – Women 4 Women (K-W4W), successfully completed the third and final year of a multi-faceted project reaching over 450 women with the SWSN program. Success in this project enabled them to secure substantial follow-on funding for the next three years. K-W4W reached 726 graduates throughout 2023 through various opportunities for graduate networking, including a large year-end event, and organizing visits so that more recent graduates can learn from past program graduates who have been successful in similar technical areas. They also trained 49 Change Agents and have been providing support to them as they advocate for various key issues impacting women in their communities, such as increasing access to women’s healthcare services in underserved locations, improving access to clean drinking water, and collaborating with local government officials to improve road and transit conditions.

Women 4 Women graduates. Credit: K-W4W
SWSN program participants during skill training. Credit: K-W4W
SWSN program participants during skill training. Credit: K-W4W
Nigeria

In 2023, WfWI Nigeria expanded to a new location, Cross River State, located in the Niger Delta region in the south bordering Cameroon. There are stark historical, cultural, religious, and political differences between northern Nigeria (where the rest of our program interventions are located) and southern Nigeria, and particularly, the Niger Delta region presents a unique socio-economic context as a petroleum-rich region. Cross River is a primarily agrarian state with 70% of its population living in poverty and has experienced a recent influx of refugees from Cameroon. The first cohort of 265 women in Cross River State graduated from our SWSN program. Another 900 women were enrolled in Cross River State throughout 2023.

Our SWSN curriculum was licensed to Rescue Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) in Nigeria who enrolled 600 women into a condensed 6-month version of the program. In addition to funding for the project, WfWI-Nigeria provided ongoing support and guidance to RISD.

We also piloted a new approach to the Change Agent training to include women that have not participated in the SWSN program. Like in Iraq, a total of 148 women, including 73 non-graduates, were trained under this pilot.

Change Agents in Action. Credit: WfWI
Program participants during training. Credit: WfWI
Training session. Credit: WfWI
Rwanda

In a first of its kind, our sister organization, Women for Women Rwanda (WfWR) enrolled their first cohort of 75 adolescent girls. This is a 10-month program adapted from our SWSN program designed to equip girls aged 16 and 17, who are at risk and not in school, with essential life skills and knowledge to nurture their personal growth and economic well-being. The launch of this program is the culmination of two years of work which focused on understanding the specific needs of adolescent girls, including limited access to quality education and the hindrances posed by early marriages and teenage pregnancies, and the careful creation of safeguarding mechanisms to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the program.

The President of Rwanda opened the FIFA Conference holding a soccer ball made at the Urugo the Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC), a center built by WfWI that is now a social enterprise. The Head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, bought one of these soccer balls for $1,000 helping bring our graduates to the world stage. This year, the WOC celebrated 10 years since opening. It has become a hub for women’s entrepreneurship, a space for learning, and a resource for the community. The Center this year added several business streams – in addition to the soccer balls - carpet making which takes orders from hotels and popular boutiques in Kigali, and tailoring, which receives multiple orders from schools. These balls, baskets, carpets and other products made by women in the program are now for sale globally online.

Adolescent Girls program launch ceremony. Credit: WfWR
Adolescent Girls program launch ceremony. Credit: WfWR
Adolescent Girls program launch ceremony. Credit: WfWR
South Sudan

In South Sudan, 150 men and 150 women are participating for the first time in joint couples’ vocational training, focusing on agriculture. The pilot aims to evaluate the effects of the couples’ vocational training on women’s economic and social outcomes relative to women-only training. In addition to the standard agricultural training, the couples’ training has been adapted to educate couples on how to think about gender-sensitive divisions of labor, promote the equitable management of resources, foster gender awareness, and how an agricultural family business operates.

Across the organization, our response to the climate crisis is growing and, in South Sudan, the team have been making adaptations to the SWSN program to build climate resilience. One group of Change Agents who had selected the agricultural track as part of their training decided to mark World Environment Day by planting trees which will be used for agricultural purposes in the local community. Their advocacy message as part of marking this day was “Keep our environment clean and green!”. This is a great example of how grassroots advocacy can be connected to global advocacy moments and used to raise awareness of specific priority issues.

Syria

On February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria claimed the lives of over 11,000 people and left millions without homes. Colleagues at our partner organization, Women Now for Development, were personally impacted by the disaster. We acted swiftly to assist them and the women in their programs through the provision of dignity kits to a total of 561 households in Aleppo, Northwest Syria.

Despite reeling from trauma, the Syrian women enrolled in Women Now for Development’s program decided to resume their training not long after the earthquake. In July of 2023, the first cohort of 233 women graduated from an eight-month version of our signature Stronger Women, Stronger Nations Program in the Marae'a area of Aleppo. This marks the first time our curriculum has been licensed to a partner organization, tailored to fit the local context and helping to rebuild lives in Syria.

Graduation ceremony. Credit: Women Now for Development
Kits distribution. Credit: Women Now for Development
Graduation ceremony. Credit: Women Now for Development
Ethiopia

Through our partner Mums for Mums, 50 of the women survivors of sexual violence who took part in the one-day basic training in Business Plan Development, through our previous grant in 2022, were given $400 to purchase capital items to start-up their own small businesses to improve their economic self-sufficiency.

Our partner, Agar Ethiopia Charitable Society, provided business training and capital support worth $500 to 30 women survivors of sexual violence in Amhara Region, who were supported through the previous grant with access to safehouse services, to start-up their own small businesses.

Program participant in her business. Credit: Mums for Mums
Myanmar/Bangladesh

Our local partner is delivering basic literacy and numeracy skills training, life skills training, and vocational training to 90 adolescent girls — 45 in Northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, and 45 in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. In addition, 30 refugee women in Bangladesh received vocational and life skills training. Our partner is also delivering joint classes in life skills and vocational skills to 30 women and 30 men in Myanmar as a means to shift deeply entrenched views of women’s roles and participation.

Following the devastating cyclone Mocha which ripped through Rakhine State in May 2023, we provided a grant that enabled them to repair three of their classrooms and to rent temporary facilities so they could continue teaching for 60 adolescent girls while the repairs were carried out.

Program participant sharing what she learned with her family.
Program participant.
Poland

After Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of women and children fled to neighboring Poland. Through our partnership with Bereginia Women’s Association and HumanDoc Foundation, we provide safe spaces for women to gather and connect with each other, and receive economic support, trauma-informed counselling, medical care, and legal support, as well as polish language courses and vocational skill training.

Art therapy session. Credit: Bereginia Women’s Association
Art therapy session. Credit: Bereginia Women’s Association
Art therapy session. Credit: Bereginia Women’s Association
Ukraine

Through our partnership with DOM48.24 and the Andreev Family Foundation, we were able to help women who have been internally displaced to regain their financial independence. We also provide women survivors of sexual violence with psychological first-aid, trauma-informed counselling, medical care, and legal support, as well as vocational skill training for internally displaced people (IDPs), and safe spaces for rehabilitation and for women to gather and connect with each other.

Our partners in action. Credit: Andreev Foundation
Our partners in action. Credit: Andreev Foundation
Mali

Mali grapples with a dire humanitarian crisis due to armed conflict, droughts, and political instability, impacting over 20 million people. Poverty, high unemployment rates, and gender inequality, exacerbated by climate change, disproportionately affect women and girls. Widespread issues such as early and forced marriage, gender-based violence, and female genital mutilation persist, hindering women's access to justice and rights awareness.

Starting in October 2023, together with our local partners Femmes et Développement (FEDE), Association Malienne pour le Suivi et l'Orientation des Pratiques Traditionnelles (AMSOPT) and Yam Gitibolo Tumo (YA-G-TU), we aim to provide:
● Food and dignity kits
● Vocational training to build their economic resilience
● Education on how to address and prevent violence against them and reinforcing referral systems to
● better support survivors of violence.

Women participants and staff. Credit: AMSOPT
Training session. Credit: AMSOPT
Program participants during training. Credit: AMSOPT
Women participants and staff. Credit: FEDE
Burkina Faso

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has faced a growing security crisis, causing a humanitarian emergency and displacing over two million people. Women and girls are particularly at risk and face many challenges, such as violence, food insecurity, inadequate housing and sanitation andlack of access to income-generating activities.

Starting in October 2023, trough our work with local partners Association Munyu des Femmes (Munyu Women’s Association), Association pour la Promotion Féminine de Gao and the Association d’Appui et d’Eveil Pugsada, we aim to provide women with:
● Business support to grow their income through skills training, raw materials and financial support
● Food supplies, nutritious local food through community gardens and training on agricultural best practices
● Psychosocial support
● Training on how to address violence and ways to strengthen the local referral network of GBV cases.

Training session. Credit: APFG
Women participants. Credit: APFG
Palestine

In the West Bank, since 2022, we have already been working with six women’s rights organizations (WROs) – Family Defense Society, Sawa – Together Today and Tomorrow, Jerusalem Centre for Women, Women Activities Association, Women Center Shufat Camp, and Askar Women's Centre – since 2022 to support women who face violence, food insecurity and unemployment in an area of prolonged conflict.

Since October 7, 2023, with increasing violence, raids, and restrictions on people’s movements, women and their families have limited access to health and medical facilities, clean water, and essential food items. So, we’ve pivoted to meet their urgent needs by supporting five of our partners in the West Bank to provide:
● Hot meals from community kitchen
● Winter clothes and shoes
● Blankets and mattresses
● Hygiene kits, and other essential items like menstrual supplies, milk, diapers for babies and food vouchers
● Hotlines for trauma informed counselling

In 2024 we also began work in Gaza with Wefaq Society for Women and Child Care, to provide emergency relief and with ‘Women Against Violence’ in Israel to support Palestinian and Jewish Israeli women survivors of violence and their children.

Sudan

Civil war in Sudan has forced millions of people to leave their homes and left millions more at risk of starvation. When war broke out in April 2023, we partnered with two organizations Zenab Women for Development and Sudanese Organisation for Research and Development to provide emergency support to women and girls through the provision of dignity kits, psychological counselling and emergency kits containing both food and other essentials. As alarming reports emerged that rape was being used as a weapon of war in the conflict, we expanded our work to support the Sudan Family Planning Association, who provides sexual and reproductive health services through mobile clinics to women and girls who are internally displaced and psychosocial and medical support to women and girl survivors of violence.

Kits distribution. Credit: ZWD
Help in action. Credit: SFPA
Poland

After Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of women and children fled to neighboring Poland. Through our partnership with Bereginia Women’s Association and HumanDoc Foundation, we provide safe spaces for women to gather and connect with each other, and receive economic support, trauma-informed counselling, medical care, and legal support, as well as polish language courses and vocational skill training.

Art therapy session. Credit: Bereginia Women’s Association
Art therapy session. Credit: Bereginia Women’s Association
Art therapy session. Credit: Bereginia Women’s Association
Ukraine

Through our partnership with DOM48.24 and the Andreev Family Foundation, we were able to help women who have been internally displaced to regain their financial independence. We also provide women survivors of sexual violence with psychological first-aid, trauma-informed counselling, medical care, and legal support, as well as vocational skill training for internally displaced people (IDPs), and safe spaces for rehabilitation and for women to gather and connect with each other.

Our partners in action. Credit: Andreev Foundation
Our partners in action. Credit: Andreev Foundation
Nigeria

In 2023, WfWI Nigeria expanded to a new location, Cross River State, located in the Niger Delta region in the south bordering Cameroon. There are stark historical, cultural, religious, and political differences between northern Nigeria (where the rest of our program interventions are located) and southern Nigeria, and particularly, the Niger Delta region presents a unique socio-economic context as a petroleum-rich region. Cross River is a primarily agrarian state with 70% of its population living in poverty and has experienced a recent influx of refugees from Cameroon. The first cohort of 265 women in Cross River State graduated from our SWSN program. Another 900 women were enrolled in Cross River State throughout 2023.

Our SWSN curriculum was licensed to Rescue Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) in Nigeria who enrolled 600 women into a condensed 6-month version of the program. In addition to funding for the project, WfWI-Nigeria provided ongoing support and guidance to RISD.

We also piloted a new approach to the Change Agent training to include women that have not participated in the SWSN program. Like in Iraq, a total of 148 women, including 73 non-graduates, were trained under this pilot.

Change Agents in Action. Credit: WfWI
Program participants during training. Credit: WfWI
Training session. Credit: WfWI
DRC

In 2023 and in response to requests by local women, we started a pilot to support women to set up individual or small group (with two or three women) businesses and the provision of a cash grant. The pilot aims to measure the success of these smaller groups when compared to bigger business groups, typically of 15 to 20 women. The cash grant is designed to cover the initial costs of starting the business, with the aim of setting women up for success. The pilot also includes participants receiving mentorship support from local successful businesspeople. So far, the results have been promising with women showing more engagement and motivation, when compared to bigger business groups, and there are promising signs of business success.

The DRC have been piloting WfWI’s newly revised and improved Men’s Engagement Program (MEP) curriculum in the community of Kaniola, South Kivu, with 164 men. To date this has seen some notable changes in the behavior of men. Following an initiative by local women to support a disabled member of their group to improve her house, the men in the community, enrolled in the MEP, decided to each contribute to repair the walls and house for this woman. It demonstrates men taking action to support vulnerable women and working to support the initiatives of their wives, mothers, sisters and family members.

MEP training. Credit: WfWI
MEP training. Credit: WfWI
Couple’s dialog session. Credit: WfWI
Rwanda

In a first of its kind, our sister organization, Women for Women Rwanda (WfWR) enrolled their first cohort of 75 adolescent girls. This is a 10-month program adapted from our SWSN program designed to equip girls aged 16 and 17, who are at risk and not in school, with essential life skills and knowledge to nurture their personal growth and economic well-being. The launch of this program is the culmination of two years of work which focused on understanding the specific needs of adolescent girls, including limited access to quality education and the hindrances posed by early marriages and teenage pregnancies, and the careful creation of safeguarding mechanisms to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the program.

The President of Rwanda opened the FIFA Conference holding a soccer ball made at the Urugo the Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC), a center built by WfWI that is now a social enterprise. The Head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, bought one of these soccer balls for $1,000 helping bring our graduates to the world stage. This year, the WOC celebrated 10 years since opening. It has become a hub for women’s entrepreneurship, a space for learning, and a resource for the community. The Center this year added several business streams – in addition to the soccer balls - carpet making which takes orders from hotels and popular boutiques in Kigali, and tailoring, which receives multiple orders from schools. These balls, baskets, carpets and other products made by women in the program are now for sale globally online.

Adolescent Girls program launch ceremony. Credit: WfWR
Adolescent Girls program launch ceremony. Credit: WfWR
Adolescent Girls program launch ceremony. Credit: WfWR
South Sudan

In South Sudan, 150 men and 150 women are participating for the first time in joint couples’ vocational training, focusing on agriculture. The pilot aims to evaluate the effects of the couples’ vocational training on women’s economic and social outcomes relative to women-only training. In addition to the standard agricultural training, the couples’ training has been adapted to educate couples on how to think about gender-sensitive divisions of labor, promote the equitable management of resources, foster gender awareness, and how an agricultural family business operates.

Across the organization, our response to the climate crisis is growing and, in South Sudan, the team have been making adaptations to the SWSN program to build climate resilience. One group of Change Agents who had selected the agricultural track as part of their training decided to mark World Environment Day by planting trees which will be used for agricultural purposes in the local community. Their advocacy message as part of marking this day was “Keep our environment clean and green!”. This is a great example of how grassroots advocacy can be connected to global advocacy moments and used to raise awareness of specific priority issues.

Ethiopia

Through our partner Mums for Mums, 50 of the women survivors of sexual violence who took part in the one-day basic training in Business Plan Development, through our previous grant in 2022, were given $400 to purchase capital items to start-up their own small businesses to improve their economic self-sufficiency.

Our partner, Agar Ethiopia Charitable Society, provided business training and capital support worth $500 to 30 women survivors of sexual violence in Amhara Region, who were supported through the previous grant with access to safehouse services, to start-up their own small businesses.

Program participant in her business. Credit: Mums for Mums
Bosnia & Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), our sister organization Žene za Žene International (ZzZ) has been working to increase the social and economic opportunities of rural women through their formalized network that is comprised largely of SWSN graduates, known as the Network of Women’s Associations for Rural Development (Rural Women’s Network). This year, ZzZ reached 1,027 women members of the Rural Women’s Network, who are members of 19 women’s small business associations spreading across BiH. This year the work included trainings in Information and communication technologies skills, strengthening the capacity of the Network so it can function as an autonomous organization, advocacy trainings and implementation of advocacy action plans.

Rural Women’s Network meeting. Credit: ZzZ
Rural Women’s Network meeting. Credit: ZzZ
Kosovo

This year our sister organization in Kosovo, Kosova – Women 4 Women (K-W4W), successfully completed the third and final year of a multi-faceted project reaching over 450 women with the SWSN program. Success in this project enabled them to secure substantial follow-on funding for the next three years. K-W4W reached 726 graduates throughout 2023 through various opportunities for graduate networking, including a large year-end event, and organizing visits so that more recent graduates can learn from past program graduates who have been successful in similar technical areas. They also trained 49 Change Agents and have been providing support to them as they advocate for various key issues impacting women in their communities, such as increasing access to women’s healthcare services in underserved locations, improving access to clean drinking water, and collaborating with local government officials to improve road and transit conditions.

Women 4 Women graduates. Credit: K-W4W
SWSN program participants during skill training. Credit: K-W4W
SWSN program participants during skill training. Credit: K-W4W
Syria

On February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria claimed the lives of over 11,000 people and left millions without homes. Colleagues at our partner organization, Women Now for Development, were personally impacted by the disaster. We acted swiftly to assist them and the women in their programs through the provision of dignity kits to a total of 561 households in Aleppo, Northwest Syria.

Despite reeling from trauma, the Syrian women enrolled in Women Now for Development’s program decided to resume their training not long after the earthquake. In July of 2023, the first cohort of 233 women graduated from an eight-month version of our signature Stronger Women, Stronger Nations Program in the Marae'a area of Aleppo. This marks the first time our curriculum has been licensed to a partner organization, tailored to fit the local context and helping to rebuild lives in Syria.

Graduation ceremony. Credit: Women Now for Development
Kits distribution. Credit: Women Now for Development
Graduation ceremony. Credit: Women Now for Development
Iraq

In 2023, we piloted a new approach to the Change Agent training in Iraq to try and engage different types of women in the communities we serve. Typically, the Change Agent Program builds the advocacy and leadership skills of women that have graduated from our 12-month SWSN program. However, through this pilot, we also tested the Change Agent Program with women that have not participated in SWSN, referred to as non-graduates. We trained 78 women as Change Agents, including 38 non-graduates, through this innovative approach, giving us the opportunity to learn what the different outcomes are for SWSN graduates and non-graduates. Women are working hard to implement their action plans, conducting awareness raising and meetings with key stakeholders to transform unequal social norms and policies that affect women in their communities.

In June, WfWI-Iraq enrolled 200 men into the MEP in Mosul. This is the first cohort in Iraq to be piloting the newly updated MEP curriculum, which has been expanded from three-months to six-months. Through this project, 25 men and their spouses – who are simultaneously enrolled in the SWSN program – will also take part in couples dialogue sessions to support couples to communicate in a healthy way and aim to provide a more enabling environment for women at the household and community level. This will be the first time that couples dialogue sessions have ever been implemented in Iraq.

Program participants during graduation ceremony. Credit: WfWI
Program participants during graduation ceremony. Credit: WfWI
Program participants during graduation ceremony. Credit: WfWI
Afghanistan

In 2023, despite severe restrictions imposed on Afghan women, we were able to enroll 1,750 women in three provinces in Afghanistan and 1,854 women successfully graduated from the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations (SWSN) program. We’re adapting to the new situation, and all newly enrolled women will be receiving cash assistance in 2024 to support their small business endeavors as well as urgent household needs. Additionally, we offer psychosocial support education as part of the SWSN program via psychological first aid training to help address the heightened mental health needs of women in the program.

At the end of 2023, WfWI-Afghanistan began emergency response efforts for women impacted by the devastating earthquake in Herat, and for women in Torkham, where thousands of Afghan women, displaced from Pakistan, face an uncertain future. WfWI-Afghanistan plans to begin emergency support activities via local partners in both locations starting in early 2024.

Myanmar/Bangladesh

Our local partner is delivering basic literacy and numeracy skills training, life skills training, and vocational training to 90 adolescent girls — 45 in Northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, and 45 in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. In addition, 30 refugee women in Bangladesh received vocational and life skills training. Our partner is also delivering joint classes in life skills and vocational skills to 30 women and 30 men in Myanmar as a means to shift deeply entrenched views of women’s roles and participation.

Following the devastating cyclone Mocha which ripped through Rakhine State in May 2023, we provided a grant that enabled them to repair three of their classrooms and to rent temporary facilities so they could continue teaching for 60 adolescent girls while the repairs were carried out.

Program participant sharing what she learned with her family.
Program participant.
Burkina Faso

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has faced a growing security crisis, causing a humanitarian emergency and displacing over two million people. Women and girls are particularly at risk and face many challenges, such as violence, food insecurity, inadequate housing and sanitation andlack of access to income-generating activities.

Starting in October 2023, trough our work with local partners Association Munyu des Femmes (Munyu Women’s Association), Association pour la Promotion Féminine de Gao and the Association d’Appui et d’Eveil Pugsada, we aim to provide women with:
● Business support to grow their income through skills training, raw materials and financial support
● Food supplies, nutritious local food through community gardens and training on agricultural best practices
● Psychosocial support
● Training on how to address violence and ways to strengthen the local referral network of GBV cases.

Training session. Credit: APFG
Women participants. Credit: APFG
Mali

Mali grapples with a dire humanitarian crisis due to armed conflict, droughts, and political instability, impacting over 20 million people. Poverty, high unemployment rates, and gender inequality, exacerbated by climate change, disproportionately affect women and girls. Widespread issues such as early and forced marriage, gender-based violence, and female genital mutilation persist, hindering women's access to justice and rights awareness.

Starting in October 2023, together with our local partners Femmes et Développement (FEDE), Association Malienne pour le Suivi et l'Orientation des Pratiques Traditionnelles (AMSOPT) and Yam Gitibolo Tumo (YA-G-TU), we aim to provide:
● Food and dignity kits
● Vocational training to build their economic resilience
● Education on how to address and prevent violence against them and reinforcing referral systems to
● better support survivors of violence.

Women participants and staff. Credit: AMSOPT
Training session. Credit: AMSOPT
Program participants during training. Credit: AMSOPT
Women participants and staff. Credit: FEDE
Sudan

Civil war in Sudan has forced millions of people to leave their homes and left millions more at risk of starvation. When war broke out in April 2023, we partnered with two organizations Zenab Women for Development and Sudanese Organisation for Research and Development to provide emergency support to women and girls through the provision of dignity kits, psychological counselling and emergency kits containing both food and other essentials. As alarming reports emerged that rape was being used as a weapon of war in the conflict, we expanded our work to support the Sudan Family Planning Association, who provides sexual and reproductive health services through mobile clinics to women and girls who are internally displaced and psychosocial and medical support to women and girl survivors of violence.

Kits distribution. Credit: ZWD
Help in action. Credit: SFPA
Palestine

In the West Bank, since 2022, we have already been working with six women’s rights organizations (WROs) – Family Defense Society, Sawa – Together Today and Tomorrow, Jerusalem Centre for Women, Women Activities Association, Women Center Shufat Camp, and Askar Women's Centre – since 2022 to support women who face violence, food insecurity and unemployment in an area of prolonged conflict.

Since October 7, 2023, with increasing violence, raids, and restrictions on people’s movements, women and their families have limited access to health and medical facilities, clean water, and essential food items. So, we’ve pivoted to meet their urgent needs by supporting five of our partners in the West Bank to provide:
● Hot meals from community kitchen
● Winter clothes and shoes
● Blankets and mattresses
● Hygiene kits, and other essential items like menstrual supplies, milk, diapers for babies and food vouchers
● Hotlines for trauma informed counselling

In 2024 we also began work in Gaza with Wefaq Society for Women and Child Care, to provide emergency relief and with ‘Women Against Violence’ in Israel to support Palestinian and Jewish Israeli women survivors of violence and their children.

SWSN classes in Nigeria. Credit: WfWI
Our DNA:
Investing in Women

In 2023, a total of 30,484 women participated in our core 12-month-long program, Stronger Women, Stronger Nations, in which participants form connections in class, learn how to earn and save money, build businesses, understand their rights, improve their health, and influence decisions in their families and communities.

We celebrated the graduation of 344 Change Agents and reached 1,915 men, working with them to engage local leaders to use their influence to promote women's rights in our Men's Engagement Program.

Embracing innovation and adaptability, we embarked on an ambitious expansion journey to new countries and started to reach women adolescents in an innovative, successful pilot in Rwanda, underscoring our unwavering dedication to fostering positive change on a global scale.

Here are our 2023 highlights:

Stronger Women, Stronger Nations, and Its Transformative Impact Read More
Stronger Women, Stronger Nations, and Its Transformative Impact

A group of Nigerian graduates from the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations Program invited 200 other women from their community to participate in an informal version of the program led by themselves. Impressing the WfWI-Nigeria team with their passion and initiative, these graduates received support and guidance from our team, leading to impressive results for the additional women and showcasing the program's impactful value.

Advocating for Women Locally, Regionally and Globally Read More
Advocating for Women Locally, Regionally and Globally

At Women for Women International, we advocate to ensure that women’s participation, voice, and leadership are central to protecting their rights and driving sustainable change. We engage with local women’s rights organizations and civil society networks to convene, support and create opportunities so women affected by conflict can directly participate in decision making spaces and to share their own needs and experiences.

Smashing the Patriarchy: Our Men’s Engagement Program Read More
Smashing the Patriarchy: Our Men’s Engagement Program

To end gender inequalities, it’s not enough to work with women alone. That’s why, for decades, we’ve been supporting men to be allies and to champion women’s rights, through our Men’s Engagement Program (MEP). In 2023 we were able to expand and make a difference in new communities.

Learning by
Continuously Adapting Read More
Learning by
Continuously Adapting

Women for Women International is committed to ensuring the strongest possible impact and value of our programs. For this reason, we consistently refine our programming according to our monitoring and evaluation data, which monitors our participants’ livelihood and economic prospects after joining the SWSN program.

Innovations to Help Adolescent Girls Realize Their Power Read More
Innovations to Help Adolescent Girls Realize Their Power

Understanding the many challenges faced by teenage girls, who are often forced into early adulthood, our Rwanda team piloted a program for 16-17 year olds who have dropped out of school. The program was developed in close coordination with our WfWI global team and will be rolled out (with country-specific adjustments) to other countries in 2024, offering vital life skills, vocational and business skills, and resources to girls through our adapted Stronger Women, Stronger Nations

Adapting to Respond to New Crises Read More
Adapting to Respond to New Crises

Over six million people were displaced by conflict in Sudan, with women and girls facing heightened risk of violence. In the central Sahel, political instability exacerbates crisis. In the West Bank, escalating conflict demands urgent aid. Our immediate response and adaptability have allowed us to step up and help women in these regions during 2023.

Our Global Community of Supporters

Through fundraising and engagement, our supporters around the world took part in some of our most exciting moments across the US, UK and Germany in 2023.

In the US, our annual luncheon celebrated our 30th anniversary. Hosted by women’ rights advocate, government leader and vocal champion for sustainability and social justice Penny Abeywardena, attendees heard from esteemed global leaders about increasing conflict around the world and the worsening climate for women’s rights.

In the UK, we had the #SheInspiresMe Car Boot Sale, hosted by Alex Eagle and powered by Selfridges; at Siobhan Davies Studios in London, we challenged 37 supporters to #ShakeItInSisterhood for six hours, the DO GOOD pop-up at Bicester Village in September donated 100% of their proceeds to our work. And finally, we had a celebration of our 30th anniversary, gathering over 150 supporters in an exclusive private viewing of the Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition.

In Germany we hosted a #SheInspiresMe dinner in Hamburg with keynote speaker Waslat-Hazrat-Nazimi, who provided insights into the realities of life for women in Afghanistan. We also co-hosted two Charity Dinners with Value Retail in preparation of the DO GOOD Pop-Up Stores opening in March 2024. Around Christmas our Ambassadors Frida Gold hosted a Charity Concert with proceeds going directly to our work.

Our online events like the ones with Jane Fergurson and Clarissa Ward, provided an opportunity for supporters across the globe to engage directly with our country staff, partners, and ambassadors.

We are also thankful to our Global Champions, who use their social media platforms to help amplify the voices of the women we serve.

Read More Show Less
Supporters at WfWI’s annual luncheon in NYC, including U.S. Board of Advisors Mona Malik (6th from Left) and Faria Abedin (9th from Left). Credit: WfWI
The #ShakeItInSisterhood Danceathon, in partnership with SOS Dance at Siobhan Davies Studios in London. Credit: WfWI
WfWI annual luncheon speakers – from L to R: Sara Wahedi, Penny Abeywardena, Laurie Adams, Varina Winder and Amjad Atallah. Credit: WfWI
Celebrating 30 Years of Sisterhood at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Credit: Bronac McNeill
The #SheInspiresMe Car Boot Sale 2023, held at Selfridges car park in London. Credit: Bronac McNeill
The #SheInspiresMe Car Boot Sale 2023, held at Selfridges car park in London. Credit: Bronac McNeill
2023 #SheInspiresMe Dinner in Hamburg with keynote speaker and journalist Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, head of the Afghanistan desk at Deutsche Welle. Credit: Dirk Uhlenbrock
Charity dinner hosted in Frankfurt as part of Value Retail’s #DoGood initiative with many inspiring guests. Credit: Franziska Krug
2023 Honor Roll
Our mission is sustained by the generous support of our donors*.
We express sincere gratitude to all of them.
* This is a listing of those who gave over $10,000 in 2023.
  • Bequests
  • Individuals
  • Institutions
  • Jean Arena
  • Barbara J. Barr Charitable Remainder Unitrust
  • Sucha Cardoza
  • Mara Cohn
  • Nicola Cowley
  • Leslie Grace
  • Margery Mayer
  • Patricia McHugh
  • Muriel Mora Estate
  • Marsha O'Bannon Estate
  • Faria Abedin
  • Evelyne Aikman and Adam Forste
  • Patricia Allen
  • Karen Amy
  • Laura Andrassy
  • Kelly Annarella
  • Deborah Ashner
  • Mirza Baig and Mona Malik
  • Beth and Steven Bangert
  • Fadwa and Jamal Barzinji
  • Elaine Bayus
  • Valerie Bechteler
  • Henry Beck
  • Dale and Max Berger
  • Andrea and Tom Bernstein
  • Carolyn Bibb and Susan Yandel
  • George and Leslie Biddle
  • Katherine Bishop
  • Katherine Borsecnik
  • Marilyn Brodie
  • Marina Brolin
  • Constance Broz
  • Leslie and Alec Cecil
  • Dorothy Chadwick
  • Shiao Ling Chiang
  • Naomi and Harvey Cohen
  • The Damron Fund
  • Deborah David and Norman Kurland
  • Ann Marie Etergino
  • Christine and Todd Fisher
  • Marike and Greg Fitzgerald
  • Sandra Foundas
  • Deborah Gaines
  • Jette and Michael Goldman
  • Jeremi Gorman
  • Shana and Hugh Griffiths
  • Deborah Halliday
  • Elizabeth and Todd Hammer
  • Kay Johnson
  • Bayan Jondy and Ahmad Nassar
  • Mary Ellen Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan
  • Kay Family Foundation
  • Louise and Peter Kelly
  • Janie and Richard Kobes
  • Anne Kolker
  • Julie Konigsberg
  • Liz Kramer
  • Frances Lynn
  • Edith MacGuire
  • Linda McBlane
  • Marie McCarthy
  • Jane McGary
  • Anoushka Mehta
  • Kathryn Money
  • Mark Moreno
  • Cassandra Newkirk
  • Cathy Newman
  • Margaret O'Brien
  • Sarah Palmer
  • Rita Payne
  • Barbara and Louis Perlmutter
  • Betty Regard
  • Family Giving Rehberger-Wells
  • Heatherly Renfro
  • Cristina Rey
  • Vivian Roeder
  • Nancy and Miles Rubin
  • Sheryl Sandberg
  • Rachel Schopen
  • Julie Smith-Bartoloni
  • Diana Saghi Kawkabani
  • Delaney Steele and Shawn Stoval
  • Mary Ann Stein
  • Anna Stephenson
  • Karen Townsend
  • Francis Trainer, Jr.
  • Monica Vinader
  • Susan Viniar
  • Henry Wilmerding
  • Rae Lyn Winblad
  • Nadjia Yousif & Andrew Browning
  • Mary Menell Zients
  • Jan Rock Zubrow and Barry Zubrow
  • Gail and Sharyn Zunz
  • 111SKIN
  • A&O Shearman
  • The Al Swaidi Family
  • Allstate Foundation
  • Alpern Family Foundation, Inc.
  • Alvin I. Brown & Peggy S. Brown Family Charitable Foundation Inc.
  • Amanda Erich Hansjürgen Neumayer-Stiftung
  • American Online Giving Foundation
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Andah Foundation
  • The Anglo-American Charity Limited
  • Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Cares Foundation
  • The Benevity Community Impact Fund
  • Bessemer Trust
  • Blackbaud Giving Fund
  • Bluebird Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation
  • Cartier Philanthropy
  • Cartier/Richemont Northern
  • Charles Schwab & Co Inc
  • Charlotte Tilbury Beauty
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • Counihan Family Foundation
  • De Rigo Vision S.p.A.
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Deutsche Postcode Lotterie
  • Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation
  • DLA Piper Llp US
  • Dr. Anthony R. Volpe and Mrs. Marlene M. Volpe Charitable Trust
  • Dropbox Foundation
  • DWS Investment GmbH
  • Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung
  • European Union
  • The Fiddlehead Fund
  • Fidelity Brokerage Service
  • Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
  • Ford Foundation
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • German Federal Foreign Office
  • Give Lively LLC
  • The Giving Block
  • Global Impact
  • Guy and Shirley Lewis Foundation Ltd
  • The Harmon Family Foundation
  • Howard Family Foundation
  • HSBC
  • The Jimmy Choo Foundation
  • Johnson & Johnson Matching Gifts Program
  • Julius Baer Foundation
  • Kendra Scott Llc
  • L'Agence
  • Lina Stores
  • L'Oreal Fund for Women
  • Mal Warwick Associates
  • Mclain Foundation
  • ME+EM
  • The Medlock Family
  • Merck Family Foundation
  • Mint Velvet
  • Morgan Stanley Gift
  • National Philanthropic Trust
  • The Ned London
  • The Northern Trust Charitable Giving Program At the Chicago Community Foundation
  • PayPal Giving Fund US
  • Pilot House Philanthropy
  • Postcode Justice Trust
  • R. Seelaus & Co., Inc.
  • Raymond James Charitable Endowment Fund
  • RBC Capital Markets LLC
  • RBC Wealth Management
  • Revolut
  • Schaebens
  • Schwab Charitable
  • Selfridges
  • Slip
  • The Spohler Foundation
  • The Stone Family Foundation
  • Swedish Postcode Foundation
  • Tides Foundation
  • Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation
  • UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women
  • USAID-Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and The Global Women's Institute at George Washington University
  • Value Retail (Germany)
  • Vitol Foundation
  • Whole Planet Foundation
  • William E. Simon Foundation
  • Women on a Mission