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Influence Policy and Practice

“I told the gathering (which included health personnel) that the health workers do not respect the rights of patients. For example, those that take ARVs, when they default, they get all sorts of abuses, instead of just being counselled properly.”

– Dorothy, woman activist, Our Bodies, Our Lives, Malawi

JASS facilitates women’s advocacy and impact on policy, practices, and decisions

JASS sees advocacy – the effort to impact policies, laws and their enforcement, institutional and organizational practices, and budget priorities – as a critical strategy and element of movement building. We believe that the core principle of environmental justice applies here: “nothing about us, without us.” In other words, women’s perspectives, voices, and agendas should guide decisions that affect their lives.

As we work to catalyze and strengthen women’s leadership and the capacity of their organizations and networks, we help them strategize about ways to advance specific demands We know that advocacy can take the form of high level UN consultations, legislative initiatives or policy hearings, but it can also include direct action, bold interventions in closed spaces, self-organized forums and targeted media campaigns. We prepare women to assess, mobilize and strategically engage in effective and safer ways. Because women, particularly marginalized women (poor, indigenous, rural, LBTQI, young, old, HIV+, disabled) are often shut out or ignored in decision-making process, we encourage and equip women to consider both inside and outside strategies, not only engaging in the prescribed and “invited” advocacy spaces, but also claiming or creating political spaces that enable them to be heard.

As part of our advocacy approach, JASS also documents and distills the learning coming out of our movement building work, and uses the knowledge produced to bolster and inform our advocacy efforts.

Defending Rights in Hostile Contexts

In late 2016, JASS launched a cross-regional and now global program called Defending Rights in Hostile Contexts: Power and Protection, a sustained advocacy effort to build understanding, support and funding for feminist and movement-based strategies for activist safety. Drawing on our extensive experience with activist training, political accompaniment, and bridge building in difficult contexts, including Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, and the Philippines, the program convened a combination of frontline activists, NGO allies and human rights donors to deepen a shared understanding of the threats facing WHRD and the ways to strategically align and support their work more effectively.

Our Power and Protection program offers an analysis of the interface between gender-based and political violence and takes a systemic approach to the phenomenon of “closing democratic space.” Through cross-regional exchanges and critical insights from practice, we bring attention to the limitations of conventional approaches to activist safety and closing civic space and raise the visibility of strategies for collective and community-based protection. We work with a variety of international, regional, and national human rights NGOs – often behind the scenes – to help them integrate gender (intersectional), power analysis, and feminist approaches into their strategies and organizational structures. As a result, we have influenced the development and human rights community including the former Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst.

Visit our online platform, Defending Rights in Hostile Contexts, co-created with the Fund for Global Human Rights, to read more about our ongoing learning and analysis from our cross-movement and cross-border gatherings.

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