With more than 20 years of on-the-ground experience working with women in countries affected by conflict, Women for Women International understands that a comprehensive program addressing the social and economic empowerment of marginalized women is the most effective approach.
We believe in the strength of the local communities where we work. Hiring local staff allows us to enter communities that other larger international NGOs can’t because we have the on-the-ground connections that open doors for us. Each community comes with its own customs, traditions, and often even its own languages. At Women for Women International, we acknowledge that it does – and should – take time to set up our program in a new community. We start every project by forming partnerships with community leaders through our local staff to establish trust and safety in our work. Our local staff are our greatest resource when it comes to navigating cultural barriers and building trust with community members. That’s why of Women for Women International hires national leadership and local trainers. The vast majority of all our staff are working in the cultures and contexts they know best.
Change can happen with one decision, one action. But sustainable change takes time. When Women for Women International launches its work in a community impacted by war, we know that long after the guns stop firing, healing is still needed. We’ve learned from working in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Rwanda, that rebuilding the broken fabric of families, neighborhoods, communities, and nations takes decades, if not longer. This is why we commit to serving marginalized women whose lives have been destroyed by conflict and instability beyond the timeline of many other humanitarian organizations. We’ve remained engaged in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Rwanda for nearly 20 years. To help women empower themselves, rebuild their lives, and, mend their broken communities, we stay in a country until the local team is prepared and able to transition to an independent local NGO.
With over more than 440,000 supporters in 85 countries, we are honored to have grassroots supporters from all over the globe.
When a woman has a strong support system, she becomes unstoppable. Many women in conflict-ridden and war-torn societies are uprooted from their homes and suffer the tragic loss of husbands, parents, and even their children. Some have been raped or abused in unspeakable ways. Even after the conflict has ended, the impacts of sexual violence, poverty, widowhood, discrimination, gender inequality, or continued insecurity often persist, leading to isolation and poverty. Our global Sponsorship Program gives women survivors of war the life-changing experience of being connected to a sponsor. Sponsors and women in the program exchange letters, creating networks of support that span the globe. These letters are vitally important to the women we serve as they draw encouragement from the knowledge that someone cares about them, even half a world away.
The Sponsorship Program is life changing for sponsors too. As a sponsor, you have the opportunity to support a woman directly and form a real relationship with her. Your support has a tangible impact on her program participation and the letter exchange forges a bond that makes a tangible difference in your sister’s life. It’s a fulfilling way to recognize and celebrate our common humanity.
The “sister” letters mean the world to the women served by our work. Many women in countries like Bosnia and Rwanda tell us that they have kept their sister letters for decades. Sponsorship is at the heart of Women for Women International’s grassroots approach because we know that one to one connection is life changing, for her and for you.
As each woman participates in our yearlong program, she works to strengthen herself across four critical areas of social and economic empowerment. Here are just a few of the many changes a sample of our graduates report seeing in their lives.