Rights Initiative for Solidarity and Engagement

Protecting Rights, Women Human Rights Defenders and Movements

ICAN’s Rights Initiative for Solidarity and Equality (RISE) aims to deepen and sustain ICAN’s support to partners in promoting rights, preventing sexual and gender based violence, and protecting and supporting women human rights defenders, their organizations and movements.

RISE efforts are focused on the following:

Promoting Rights and Preventing Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)

Identifying Emerging Trends

ICAN aims to identify emerging trends in promoting rights and preventing SGBV as well as innovative responses of partners. ICAN will do this by regularly reaching out to partners, holding focus group discussion when on country visits or regional thematic meetings when appropriate. These trends are presented in articles, blog posts and policy briefs and guide international advocacy efforts. To this end, ICAN relies on its SGBV working group as well as other partners to identify emerging trends and appropriate responses.

Networking and Peer-to Peer Exchanges

Recognizing the importance of regional and cross regional peer-to-peer learning and exchange and the critical knowledge and expertise that exists among practitioners in the global south, ICAN developed activities to allow peer-to-peer sharing/learning and capacity building as part of its Women’s Rights Peace and Security Program (2012-2016). Over the years, this activity has developed into a core component of many programs. To this end, ICAN supports partners in engaging with one another for the purposes of learning, and collaboration on promotion of rights and SGBV.  This can include country learning exchanges, or longer running working groups.

Together to End Violence MENA/Asia region Campaign

This working group took shape During the second ICAN Forum (2013). Members decided to share information about issues of importance in their respective contexts and through public outreach campaigns, on March 8th or 16 Days of Violence. As such, they publicize their campaign activities on a facebook page and on ICANs website. This allows members as well as others to stay abreast of developments in each country and learn about priority issues related to prevention of SGBV. It also conveys the message that violence in MENA/Asia region is not part of the culture and responses to address and prevent it are indigenous. Some of the participating countries have also developed corresponding papers outlining the importance of the issue they are addressing. Examples of issues addressed through campaigns include: recruitment of female child soldiers by Kurdish Militia in Syria; raising awareness about needs and issues of war widows in Iraq; prevention of child marriage in Afghanistan and Iran; and addressing racism in Lebanon.  Since then ICAN has addressed the issue of SGBV and in particular in relation to conflict and transition contexts at two other Forums (2015 and 2016).

Grant Making

ICAN provides small grants for the promotion of women’s rights and participation as well as prevention of sexual and gender based violence.  RISE grants are provided as part of country level support programs and regional support.

Country Level Support

The grants provided in the context of country level support programs, include a strong capacity building component. ICAN staff provide technical assistance and mentoring to partners, especially smaller, less experienced organizations or those working in contexts of shrinking civil society space. When possible and appropriate we also provide trainings and skill building support by ICAN staff, experienced trainer/consultants.  TA/skills building has included: project cycle management, monitoring and evaluation and financial and program reporting. Grant making for Syrian organizations was largely focused on low-medium capacity civil society groups. Also grants and supports have been provides to CSOs working in contexts where civil society space is shrinking

Regional Support

Grants for rights work are provided to ICAN partners with innovative approaches to promotion of rights and addressing SGBV or working in contexts of shrinking civil society space. These include small grants from $3000 to $33000. In 2016 a total of 15 grants were disbursed to Syrian (based in Turkey, Lebanon and Syria), Lebanese, Tajik, Afghan, Sri Lankan as well as partners in other countries.

Protection and Support for Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)

This program aims to build and increase the resiliency of WHRDs to ensure that they can remain active in their respective fields and countries.

Integrated Security and Wellbeing/Self Care (ISW) Training

ICAN has sponsored trainings for WHRDS on Integrated Security and Wellbeing/Self Care trainings as well as digital security. ICAN has also supported similar efforts carried out by our partners.

Advocacy to support WHRDs

The WHRD Protection and Support component of RISE has a strong advocacy and networking component, through which ICAN supports participation of partners in key regional, international and policy spaces relevant to the work they are doing to promote rights and in defense of WHRDs and their priorities. This has included travel grants for participation at the Commission on the Status of Women and international conferences and events on SGBV, women’s rights and movement building. ICAN uses these opportunities to facilitate key meetings for partners with policymakers and INGOs based on their interests and needs.

Training of Trainers on ISW

In the next five years, and in light of the increased pressure on WHRDs, working in conflict, crisis and closed civil society space, we will build on our current experience to continue providing ISW trainings, with a view to developing a strong cadre of trainers from the MENA/Asia region, with appropriate language and cultural skills, who can provide this training locally.

Protection of WHRDs

ICAN facilitates access and connection of WHRDs in its network to resources and supports at the international level, including connecting them to organizations that can provide support for when they are targeted for persecution and crackdown To this end, ICAN is a member of the WHRD International Coalition, which includes membership of a range of leading women and human rights organizations.

Fostering a Supportive and Enabling Environment for Women’s Participation through Civil Society

Women activists, as well as their organizations and movements across the world are increasingly being targeted by state and non-state actors, who view demands for equality and inclusion as threats to their power and interests. In 2012 with the start of ICAN’s Women’s Rights Peace and Security Program, the social and political space for many of the countries in MENA region had opened up as a result of revolution and protest. Since then the space in most of the revolutionary countries has rapidly constricted making it difficult for women’s movements and women human rights defenders to advocate for positive change. But the dimensions of these pressures remain unclear and their impact on women’s rights have not been explored.

In 2017-2018 ICAN will conduct research and hold discussions with WHRDs to:

  • Identify how the constricting of civil society space is impacting women’s civil society organizations and women’s rights in MENA/Asia region;
  • Identify strategies for supporting movements and WHRDs in these contexts; and
  • Conduct advocacy around our findings with international NGOs, funders and policymakers.

#SheDefends Campaign


WHRDIC’s statement on the detention of WHRDs in Turkey

The WHRD IC Stands In Solidarity With Those Arrested In Turkey And Calls For Their Immediate Release The WHRD IC is deeply concerned about the recent detention of eight Turkish human rights defenders and two IT trainers and calls for their immediate and unconditional...

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ICAN at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

The 61st session of the CSW will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York from March 13-24, 2017. This year’s theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. ICAN will be cohosting several events, including: a meeting of the Global Solutions...

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Egypt: Travel ban and assets freeze for Azza Soliman

Azza Soliman, well-known WHRD, lawyer and Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance (CEWLA)'s board of trustees head, was banned from travel. Azza was on her way to Jordan to participate in a training for Musawah's movement when she was informed that she is banned...

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