Stories of Resilience and Hope

As we adjust to our ever-changing world, it is the stories of strength that keep us going. There is so much uncertainty, tumult, isolation and illness around us, and so we hope you will find solace and inspiration in hearing about AJWS’s brave grantees in the developing world who are fighting day and night to defend vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From women fighting domestic violence under lockdown in India to journalists in Senegal spreading life-saving health care information to remote rural villages, AJWS’s grassroots grantees are fighting to keep their communities safe and healthy, with their human rights protected.

Thank you for being part of this community that makes their life-saving work possible. Our thoughts are with you and your family, and we hope you are safe, healthy, and have everything that you need.

Around the World


Photo by Sara Hylton

The Fight against Gender-Based Violence during India’s Lockdown

AJWS grantee Nishtha has been fighting domestic violence and child marriage in rural areas of West Bengal, India, since 1983. When COVID-19 struck and the Indian government launched an abrupt and total lockdown, Nishtha’s work took on added urgency. Women and girls living with abusive husbands and fathers suddenly had no escape, and more poor families facing financial hardship pushed their young daughters out of school and forced them into early marriages. Learn about how the women and girls who lead Nishtha are rising to these new challenges by fighting for safety, education and opportunities for women and girls.


Protecting Journalists Takes on New Urgency During a Pandemic

Authoritarian governments around the world are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to clamp down on human rights, particularly the right to access accurate information and speak and write freely. It is a matter of life and death for everyone—including vulnerable, poor and oppressed communities—to know how to prevent contracting and spreading the virus. Learn about how AJWS grantees are keeping their communities safe by spreading accurate health information and protecting the journalists and community radio producers who deliver the truth.


Photo by HRAPF

Attorneys Free Imprisoned LGBT Youth

After 23 homeless LGBT youth in Uganda were unjustly imprisoned and falsely charged with spreading COVID-19, AJWS grantee Human Rights and Awareness Forum (HRAPF) mobilized emergency legal support. Read the gripping story of how, for nearly two months, HRAPF fought relentlessly as the youth were held without bail and brutally harassed. On May 18th, the charges were dropped and the young people finally freed.

What We're Reading

Funders Must Save Lives and Defend Human Rights in This Moment

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a world-wide disaster that is exacerbating existing inequalities and oppressions, inordinately affecting vulnerable communities everywhere. AJWS CEO and President Robert Bank calls on the philanthropic community to provide immediate support for those most in need while addressing the long-term structural issues that make some groups so vulnerable.

Inside Philanthropy

COVID-19 Will Have a Devastating—and Long-Term—Impact on Women and Girls

The Indian government’s lockdown is destroying hard-won recent progress towards gender equality: The quarantine measure has pushed women and girls back into their homes and apartments, where they face greater risk of domestic violence. Read this compelling article by a friend of AJWS that unpacks how the lockdown is harming women and girls.

Indian Express

First Genocide, now COVID-19 for the Rohingya

COVID-19 has arrived in the crowded Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, and the virus is likely to spread rapidly due to limited access to water and basic sanitation, plus the impossibility of social distancing. AJWS grantee Yasmin Ullah unearths another factor: It will be difficult to access and spread information about prevention because the Bangladeshi government has cut off the Rohingya’s access to the internet.

The Washington Post

Fighting Dictatorship and the Virus in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is ill-equipped for COVID-19: the economy is in free fall, the health system is fragile, and the Ortega regime is down-playing the pandemic. AJWS’s Tracey Gurd makes the case that Ortega will use the moment to shore up power, and she offers recommendations of what governments can do to stymie the dictator and stand with Nicaraguans.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

What COVID-19 Means for Refugees

Refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced and stateless people will suffer the most from COVID-19, due to poverty, lack of access to clean water and health care, crowded living conditions and more. AJWS’s Samantha Wolthuis notes that in addition, refugees must have access to accurate information from trusted sources about how to prevent the spread of the virus.

Times of Israel

Keeping Communities Safe in Liberia

AJWS grantee LiPride—a group that works to promote the human rights of those facing discrimination—recently donated protective masks, bleach and other essential items to its coalition of 25 human rights defending organizations, to ensure that the courageous activists who defend human rights under fire during this crisis can do their work without risking their lives.

Journal Rage Liberia

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Speak Out for Reproductive Rights

The draconian global gag rule has put the lives of women, girls and other vulnerable groups at risk across the world, as it denies U.S. global health funding to any organization that provides legal, safe abortion services, referrals for those services or even any information about them. This fall, our elected officials have an opportunity to change this cruel policy. Sign on now in support of reproductive rights. Lives around the world hang in the balance.

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