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10 Motivating Moments in 2023 

At Women for Women International, we believe that powerful transformation happens when communities unite, especially during times of crises. As an immensely challenging 2023 comes to a close, we cannot help but reflect on key moments that motivate us to work even harder to serve women survivors of war and conflict. We are ever grateful for your unwavering support and continue to be in awe of the resilience and strength of the women we serve.  

Below are our top 10 moments of 2023 that motivate us going into 2024 and also give us a reason to strive for a better world that’s more equal, peaceful and prosperous.  

Thank you for standing in solidarity with women survivors of war and conflict. 

1. Adolescent Girls Are Realizing Their Power 

Though our signature ‘Stronger Women Stronger Nations’ program serves women, the unfortunate reality is that many teenage girls are thrust into the roles and responsibilities of womanhood and motherhood early. Adolescence is the moment where long-term decisions that lead to life-long impacts on girls’ development and futures are made. With this in mind, our WfW Rwanda team piloted a program to equip aged 16-17 year old who have dropped out of school with crucial life skills, resources and knowledge to improve their personal growth and economic well-being. The launch of this program is the culmination of two years of program design to cater to the specific needs of adolescent girls and the barriers they face, including limited access to quality education, early or forced marriage and teenage pregnancies. It also required the development of relevant safeguarding mechanisms to ensure their safety. 

Plans are underway to expand this program to Nigeria and Iraq next year, investing in the future of these young women so the next generation of women realize their power. 

adolescent girls Rwanda

2. One Step Forward to Smashing the Patriarchy  

To end gender norms and inequalities, it’s not enough to work with only women. That’s why, for decades, we’ve been working with men so they can join as allies and champion women’s rights, through our Men’s Engagement Program (MEP). For the first time this year we’ve been able to launch our MEP in Mosul, Iraq – a region once occupied by ISIS who subjected thousands of women to horrific sexual violence and brutally massacred people, targeting Yazidis and other ethnical minority groups. Our locally-led team implemented couples dialogue sessions to foster healthy communication, creating an enabling environment for women in a region steeped in patriarchal norms, political tensions and violence against women.  

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where a record 6.9 million people have been displaced by conflict, we piloted a new MEP curriculum in South Kivu, which encourages men to take specific actions in their homes and communities to empower women or remove barriers to the realization of their rights. Inspired by women in a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) group, men enrolled in the MEP got together to buy better roofing materials for a disabled woman in their community, taking action to support vulnerable women and actively participating in initiatives led by their wives, mothers, sisters, and family members.  

MEP meeting in DRC
MEP meeting in DRC.

3. Afghan Women Are Not Giving Up and Neither Will We 

Still reeling from multiple earthquakes in Herat which killed over 2,000 people, 80% of whom are women and children, Afghans face another crisis – mass deportations from Pakistan. In a country with severe restrictions imposed on women – Afghanistan ranks 177 out of 177 for women’s inclusion, justice, and security – we knew we had to immediately act to help meet the urgent needs of women. Through women-led local organizations, we are prioritizing access to women and missing children’s shelters, menstrual and maternity management, psychosocial and trauma-informed counseling, and specialized support to people with disabilities.   
Close to Torkham at the border with Pakistan, we are working to expand our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program so Afghan women can rebuild. Your support helps not only in bringing much needed emergency relief to Afghan women but also in investing in their longer-term recovery.  

4. Advocating for Women Impacted by Climate, Conflict, and Gender Inequality 

Around the world, climate crises and conflicts are on the rise, and it is women and girls who are uniquely and disproportionately impacted - but to develop meaningful, sustainable, and inclusive solutions, leaders must listen to them.  

We were honored to be at this year’s COP28 in Dubai for the first time, hosting a roundtable in partnership with Goals House to bring the perspectives and experiences of women survivors of war and conflict. Our new report highlighted the effects of extreme weather, environmental degradation, poverty, violence and conflict on women’s lives. 

Our assessment was based on conversations with nearly 1,000 women across 14 countries, including DRC, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine. 


5. Hope in Aleppo: Syrian Women Rebuild 

On February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria claimed the lives of over 11,000 civilians and left millions without homes. Our colleagues at our partner organization, Women Now for Development, were directly affected by this disaster. In response to the urgent needs, they had to pause their programming and we prioritized supporting them and the women in the program with emergency cash assistance, covering evacuation and relocation costs, and psychosocial support.      

Despite reeling from the destruction and trauma caused by the earthquake, the Syrian women enrolled in the program decided to resume their training. And 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 was licensed to a partner organization, tailored to fit the local context and contribute to rebuilding lives in Syria.  

Graduation Syria

6. Women at the Forefront of Forgotten Conflicts: Sudan and the Sahel  

More than six million people have been forcibly displaced since fighting began in Sudan in mid-April. There have been brutal accounts of sexual violence used as a weapon of war, exploitation and trafficking in the conflict, with women and girls who’ve been displaced particularly at risk. We activated our Conflict Response Fund, partnering with local organizations to immediately provide emergency support for women survivors, including dignity kits and psychosocial support. 

The central Sahel region, faces an escalating humanitarian and protection crisis. Driven by repeated coups d'état, intense armed conflict, and extreme poverty, millions have been displaced. The political, security, and economic challenges are anticipated to worsen in 2024, likely leading to increased human rights violations and displacement. 

In November 2023, we started supporting six new partners in Mali and Burkina Faso. Our partners are actively engaged in diverse activities with women, ranging from life skills training and the distribution of dignity kits to income generation training and activities to address food insecurity. Additionally, they provide trauma counseling and psychological support for GBV survivors while conducting community awareness programs. 

Sahel partners

7. An Uncertain Future for Women in the West Bank  

More than a year ago, we began working with local partners in the West Bank, supporting Palestinian women to achieve social and economic independence. Since the latest escalation of conflict, the women we serve face an increasingly violent and uncertain future – they tell us that the situation in the West Bank is rapidly getting worse. People are unable to work as travel between cities in the West Bank and exits from refugee camps are severely restricted, resulting in hundreds of thousands of heads of household that are no longer able to work. Women and their families have limited access to food, menstrual supplies, and basic necessities. Tensions are growing as people are trapped in their homes, leading to upsurges in domestic disputes and violence.  

One woman told us: "Due to the ongoing closures, my husband is unable to work, and the economic situation is dire. With children to care for, I'm uncertain about the future and when this crisis will come to an end. My fears are overwhelming." 

With your help, we’re now working with our local partners to meet the critical needs of women in the West Bank by providing hygiene kits, food vouchers, and trauma-informed counseling. With coaching, we can support women in lockdown to stretch their finances and food supplies. Our partners are providing lifelines for women across the West Bank and Gaza in the form of hotlines where trained psychologists are providing psycho-social 911. In 2024, through our partners we also hope to enroll women in our core program. While the future remains uncertain, one thing we know from our 30-year history is that your investment in women survivors of war is a pathway to peace.  

8. WfWI Progams Not Only Work But Also Have the Potential to Scale Up  

When women marginalized by war and conflict realize their power, something incredible happens. We’ve seen the transformation they bring for themselves and their families by enrolling in our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations Programs. We know our programs work because the women we serve tell us they do and because we rigorously evaluate them. 

In 2023, a new independent evaluation by Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) outlined the success and impact of WfWI's Bloomberg-sponsored programming. Since 2007, WfWI) has partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies and generous grants from Bloomberg's Women’s Economic Development program have enabled WfWI and local partners to serve thousands of women in Rwanda, Nigeria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The report, which surveyed 14,370 across Rwanda, DRC and Nigeria over 10 years showcased the positive outcomes for program participants, graduates, and key stakeholders. Women reported more than doubling their income, saving on average three times more than what they did at the start of our program. Read about the impact of our program.

income activities

9. From Conflict to Confidence: Virtual Reality in Bauchi, Nigeria 

You helped us launch our first venture into the world of virtual reality! We leveraged the considerable talents of a Kenyan crew, our local team, and the community of Bauchi in Northern Nigeria to create a new type of film.  

The film stars Dada, a mother-of-two whose life has been upended by the Boko Haram insurgency and is now a participant in our SWSN program. Dada powerfully documents her story and takes the audience on an immersive journey to explore the realities of her daily life.  

Launched by WfWI Ambassador, Nigerian actor and women’s rights activist, Stella Damasus at an event in Washington DC during Women's History Month, Dada’s story captivated the audience. The film continues to be an authentic storytelling experience for supporters at showings across the world, including UK and Germany. ‘Through Dada’s Eyes’ was selected for the African Women Arts and Film Festival in a testament to the creativity of Dada and her community. We were also thrilled to showcase the film at an event hosted by Hollywood actor Lake Bell

VR experience

10. 30 Years of Transformative Action: From Outrage to Global Impact 

Three decades ago, responding to the Bosnian War's horrors, a movement was born. Today, we're a global community having reached over 553,000 women survivors of war and conflict. 

Between 1992 and 1995, 50,000 Bosnian women faced war's brutality and rape as a tactic. Feeling forgotten and invisible, survivors sought hope. Zainabi Salbi and Amjad Atallah founded Women for Women International in 1993, aiding Bosnian women. 

Despite hopes for change, conflict persisted, expanding to Kosovo and beyond. Since then, WfWI also expanded our reach, spanning Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and more. Over just the last five years we’ve more than doubled the number of countries where we support women survivors of war and conflict  – 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.  

We celebrated our 30th anniversary with our donors and Ambassadors across the U.S. and the UK. As we strive to invest in the power of one million women globally, your ongoing support is vital. Join us, marking 30 years of transformative action, sowing seeds of solidarity for women in conflict zones. 


30 years celebrations

Thank you for investing in the power of women! 

2023 YE Match Hero 1
With your year-end tax-deductible gift, you can help more women survivors of war overcome unthinkable challenges and move toward hope and healing.