At Women for Women International, we know that even in a crisis, amazing things happen when women come together.
2022 has been a year marked by conflict and multiple crises. Yet, even in the darkest times, we continue to be inspired by the strength and resilience of the women we serve.
Here are our top ten highlights of 2022 to inspire and energize YOU, our global community of supporters, who have made all of this possible!
1. Women in Afghanistan Led the Charge
In the face of harsh restrictions and intimidation, Afghan women found the courage to show up in the thousands to our training centers, after we resumed our program. And, just last week, a group of them even graduated from our program – a phenomenal feat thanks to the passion of our local team in Afghanistan and your unwavering support!
Women for Women International is one of the few international NGOs providing direct services to Afghan women – we now operate in 16 training centers in four provinces with over 3,116 women enrolled in our program
We will continue to #ActWithAfghanWomen, elevating their voices and investing in their ability to support themselves and their families. They are a force to be reckoned with and we couldn’t be more proud of their achievements!
2. Ukrainian Women Found Light in the Darkness
Braving missile attacks and freezing temperatures, often working without electricity, our partners in Ukraine remain steadfast in their search for women survivors in this war. As reports of sexual violence increase, they are determined to reach as many women as they can with trauma-informed counseling, medical care, legal counseling, and vocational training.
After Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, millions of people, mostly women and children were forced to flee their homes. Our sister organization, Žene za Žene in Bosnia, led our response to meet the critical needs of women survivors in Ukraine and refugees in Poland. Through our Conflict Response Fund we work with local partners on the ground, Bereginya, HumanDoc Foundation, The Andreev Foundation and Dom4824, to provide women with comprehensive care.
We’re in awe of the growing community of women survivors who come together to seek help and share their stories. Our partners tell us that even in this darkness they have light in their hearts.
3. The Strength of Syrian Women
Twelve years of war in Syria has not defeated the spirit of Syrian women who are embarking on our 12-month training program to reclaim their power. In September 2022, alongside our regional partner in Syria, Women Now for Development, we started offering a pilot of our Stronger Women Stronger Nations Program (SWSN). This pilot project aims to reach almost 300 vulnerable women in the Mare'a area of Aleppo province in northwest Syria. Despite more than a decade of this brutal war, the willingness of these women to pick up the pieces of their lives and rebuild their communities is an example to us all.
4. Women in South Sudan Became Agents of Change in Their Community
While it’s not new for women graduates of our program to advocate for their rights in their community, this year we launched our Change Agent program in Yei, with over 200 women receiving formal training. And they’re already putting their training to good use!
From using radio shows to talk about culturally taboo topics like sex education and child marriage, to speaking up against the stigma of rape, these Agents of Change are breaking patriarchal norms by engaging men, Church leaders and tribal chiefs to forge peace and change behaviors in their communities. They’ve already reported a decline in cases of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), a huge shift in how women are realizing their power.
5. Women Survivors United to Rebuild in Iraq
We gathered hope and inspiration in Iraq where, for years, we’ve been supporting women survivors rebuild their lives, families and communities.
In 2014 ISIS took control of Ninevah Plains, committing genocide of Yazidis and people of various ethno-religious minorities. They categorically targeted women and girls, enslaving them and inflicting sexual violence. Expanding our program to Ninevah Plains this year, now no longer occupied by ISIS, has meant that women across ethno-religious minorities have once again been able to come together in solidarity to build peace, heal from their trauma and regain their social and economic power.
Being able to re-establish a presence in this region has been years in the making and we are so proud of these brave women and our determined local team in Iraq.
6. Change for Children in Nigeria
Women who graduated from our Change Agent program in Nigeria came together for a powerful project this year, opening the first primary school in Rudugungu community, in Bauchi State. This is the first school of any kind in 50 years in the community, with 92 students joining for the first day of classes.
We are great believers in the power of education to better women’s lives and we were overjoyed to witness this inspiring group of women bring change to their community. What an incredible achievement!
7. In Rwanda, the DRC and Nigeria, Women Harnessed the Power of Technology
Women enrolled in our programs have been reaching their financial goals faster with Fintech. They’re using an app called DreamSave ™, which allows them to form online savings groups and manage their financials digitally.
With escalating conflict amongst rebel groups in Eastern DRC, women needed a way to access and save money even in the remotest areas, and they found a solution - in a successful pilot this year, women are using their mobile phones for cash transfers of their monthly stipends.
Your support helped these women harness their power to bridge the digital divide!
8. Congolese Women Advocated on the Global Stage
Our amazing Country Director for the DRC, Rachel Boketa, gave a vital presentation at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in May. She briefed the council on armed conflict, poverty and humanitarian access, giving a voice to the women we serve, whose experiences are rarely featured at such debates.
Rachel spoke alongside Robert Mardini, the Secretary General of International Committee of the Red Cross, and David Miliband, the CEO of International Rescue Committee. It was an immense honor for WfWI to be part of this critical conversation alongside these other organizations, but we were especially thrilled to have direct representation from women in the DRC on an international platform.
9. New Ambassadors Amplified Women’s Voices Everywhere
Waad- Al-Kateab, Syrian activist and award-winning journalist and filmmaker, and Azita Ghanizada, Afghan American actress and advocate, officially became our newest global Ambassadors! They are so generous in sharing their own experience and knowledge - their involvement makes all the difference to our mission. We are grateful to Waad, Azita and our ever-growing community who are dedicated to amplifying the strength and power of women around the world.
10. Our Global Community Stepped Up
Last but not the least, you, members of our global community stood by us through thick and thin, participating in our fundraisers and events across U.S, UK and Germany.
Our Annual Luncheon in New York City moderated by award winning journalist and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien, saw us come together in-person for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Our team in the United Kingdom hosted a phenomenal #SheInspiresMe Car Boot Sale, with over 1,200 attendees and in Germany, our team has just wrapped up a two-week Pop-Up Shop and a #SheInspiresMe dinner with Julia Leeb and Bianca Lang-Bognar as guest speakers.
We hope you’re as inspired as we are by the successes of this year. Due to your generous support, women all over the world are learning about their rights, becoming agents of change for their communities, and gaining economic power.
We can’t say this enough – Thank you for investing in the power of women!