ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Women's rights

Women around the world are more likely to live in poverty - just because they are women. They have less access to land, education, income and decision-making – all of which keeps them poor.

ActionAid puts women and women’s rights at the centre of all our work because we believe this inequality is an injustice we must fight. And we believe that gender is critical to understanding the causes of poverty and injustice.

We work with women across the world to identify the changes they want to see and to empower them to claim their rights.

ActionAid also defends the rights of women and girls to live free from gender-based violence; to secure a fairer division of care work and to control their own sexuality.

We believe that women are powerful forces for change. In everything we do, ActionAid believes the best way to end poverty is to strengthen women in their own struggles, helping them to unleash their own potential to change the world.

Our women’s rights work focuses on five key areas:

Violence against women 
Women and girls around the world face widespread violence, sexual harassment and abuse in many of the spaces that they populate – their homes, workplaces, on the streets and on public transport. Women’s fear of violence is an attack on their basic rights and prevents them from living full and equal lives.

Economic rights 
ActionAid campaigns with women for decent jobs, fair taxes to reduce inequalities, and to see a fairer division of unpaid care work - including public services to reduce drudgery and ensure better quality care provision for people living in poverty.

Women’s control over their own bodies 
Throughout the world women and girls are forced to endure harmful practices that cause them great suffering . ActionAid works with women to stop female genital mutilation, early or forced marriage, sex selective abortion, dowry-related crimes, honour crimes and many other harmful practices.

Mobilising women 
Every year we work with partners and women’s rights organisations to mobilise communities, connect women, men, girls and boys to demand further change to ensure women and girls around the world can enjoy their rights.

Women farmers 
ActionAid supports women producers to start up and lead collectives so that they can enjoy their economic rights.

We‘re redressing gender equality and changing the imbalances of power between men and women across all areas of our work.

We work on women’s rights with stand-alone programmes and also integrate it into all of our wider projects.

"Gender is not something we also do but at the heart of all that we do"

- (Salil Shetty, Former Chief Executive Officer, AAI)


The specific issues that we concentrate on in this theme are:

  • violence against women and girls
  • women in decision - making and leadership
  • women’s economic empowerment and economic justice

So we can tackle these issues, we support grassroots and national organisations to be articulate, accountable and powerful voices for concerns of women.

We’re campaigning to include women’s rights as a priority issue in key development policies and we’re advocating for spaces where the voices of women, particularly poor women, can be heard.

While we’re campaigning around violence against women and girls, we’re working together with The Ark Foundation to:

  • promote and protect the rights of women and girls
  • provide support to survivors of violence by meeting their immediate needs
  • counsel to alleviate trauma of violence

We’re also working with Abantu for Development to promote women’s leadership and decision-making, and to strengthen their contribution to policy-making and national structures.

Another partner, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) works under the sub-theme Women and Economic Justice and Empowerment to promote and protect the rights of women. This programme aims to:

  • strengthen legal rights programmes for women at the local, regional and national levels
  • provide assistance and training to groups for the development of legal literacy programmes, educational materials, lobbying, and mobilisation and network strategies.

By partnering with these organisations, we can support the collective power of women and girls to advocate for their rights, as well as challenging the policies, customs and laws and practices that hold back women and girls.

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