The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for programs that bolster women civil society activists and human rights defenders, in all their diversity, as leaders in the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region.
DRL seeks to support a program that advances women HRDs and civil society activists’ full, equal, effective, and meaningful participation and leadership in safeguarding and advancing democratic governance, transparency, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region. The program should seek to actively address gender norms, dynamics, and inequalities to achieve project outcomes.
This program should focus on grassroots civil society-led advocacy initiatives to advance democratic reforms, human rights, and fundamental freedoms and should ensure that women are equitably included in all aspects of civic advocacy and decision-making processes. As such, the program must allocate at least 50 percent of the total budget to small grants to local civil society organizations to implement tailored and targeted advocacy initiatives.
The program should be designed to achieve the following objectives:
- Women activists and HRDs, in all their diversity, effectively and safely advance democratic governance and fundamental rights and freedoms locally, nationally, and/or regionally;
- Women activists and HRDs increase public demand for democratic governance, human rights, and fundamental freedoms, particularly of marginalized or underrepresented populations;
- Governments take concrete steps and actions to meaningfully incorporate principles of inclusivity and gender equity when advancing policies strengthening inclusive and representative governance, accountability, transparency, and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- Total Funding Floor: $1,500,000
- Total Funding Ceiling: $3,000,000
- Anticipated Number of Awards: Approximately 1-2
- Period of Performance: 24 – 36 months
- Anticipated Time to Award, Pending Availability of Funds: 6-8 months
Illustrative activities include:
- Employing innovative methodologies and platforms to strengthen women and girls’ knowledge of principles of democracy, transparency, accountability, inclusivity, civic participation, and how they can use these principles to engage more constructively as activists in their communities and with relevant stakeholders;
- Providing technical assistance to emerging women civil society leaders to strengthen their capacity and confidence to build networks and advocate for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Supporting women civil society members, HRDs, activists, and other democratic actors to understand and apply nonviolent civic participation methods and strategic planning, and communication techniques to advocacy initiatives, so reform methods and messages better resonate with decision-makers and build broader support;
- Providing opportunities for women activists to engage with community actors and stakeholders to identify pressing local human rights and governance issues, and design, implement and resource community-centered solutions;
- Direct support to women activists and women-led CSOs in launching targeted advocacy campaigns to advance human rights in their communities;
- Capacity-building for women democratic actors in leveraging research, documentation, and strategic communication methods to raise awareness of human rights abuses and violations;
- Strengthening women democratic actors’ skills in safety planning and protection from physical and digital violence;
- Creating opportunities for women activists to network professionally and participate in local and regional fora on human rights, fundamental freedoms and governance issues, such as the 2023 ASEAN People’s Forum;
- Establishing a sustainable regional network of women democratic actors to strengthen intra-regional solidarity, support knowledge sharing, and advance strategic action that catalyzes promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights;
- Providing civil society, HRDs, activists, decision-makers, and other democratic actors with training on gender awareness, do no harm principles, and inclusion of marginalized populations in strategic planning, budgeting, and advocacy initiatives;
- Promoting efforts to dismantle systemic gender barriers, including raising awareness among decision-makers and the public, particularly men and boys, on gender socialization, discriminatory gender norms, laws, and human rights abuses that prevent and limit women’s full inclusion, participation, and leadership in democratic processes;
- Facilitating meaningful and integrated engagement between women leaders and male politicians, including community leaders and national decision-makers;
- Psycho-social support mechanisms for activists promoting human rights in repressive environments.
- DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses. DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited.
- Applicants should:
- Focus on increasing women and girls’ access and influence within 2-3 key human rights and fundamental freedoms issue areas (e.g. inclusive representation in development of climate change policy, GBV, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, indigenous rights, LGBTQI+ rights, etc.);
- Propose interventions that include participants from at least four (4) countries in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region and ensure they include ample justification for country selection in proposal narratives;
- Partner with local civil society organizations committed to the advancement of women and girls, including women-led organizations;
- Present a family- and community-based approach that engages men and boys as champions and partners in support of the meaningful participation of women in public life and democratic institutions;
- Demonstrate a strong understanding of the unique needs of women activists in the target countries, including the barriers to their participation in project activities and how to safely mitigate these risks and challenges;
- Adopt an intersectional approach and engage marginalized populations, including youth, members of religious or ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ persons; and
- Ensure that proposed activities will not duplicate but complement and build on ongoing initiatives in targeted countries.
For more information, visit DRL.