AJWS has a two-pronged strategy for building a more just and equitable world. We provide over $38 million annually to 450 social justice organizations in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
At the same time, we advocate for laws and policies in the United States that will improve the lives of millions of people around the world. We do this by leading campaigns for human rights and by building relationships with Jewish leaders, elected officials and other supporters of human rights to promote justice and equality in developing countries.
Our international grantmaking and U.S. advocacy focus on five central issues that we believe are key to securing human rights and ending poverty.
We aid communities in their work to recover from conflict, speak out against injustice and hold their governments accountable for respecting the rights of all people.
We empower communities to protest exploitative development conducted without their consent and protect the land, water and natural resources that they depend on for survival.
We support women, girls and LGBT people so that they can stop violence and discrimination, gain control over their lives and bodies, and live with health, safety and dignity.
We seek to end the practice of child marriage—which violates the human rights of roughly 14 million girls around the world each year—so that girls can determine their own futures.
When severe disasters strike in the countries where we work, AJWS provides immediate humanitarian relief and stays the course with long-term support for recovery—building more just and equitable societies that benefit people whose needs are often ignored.
Why We Fund Human Rights
We’re an international development and human rights organization. This means that we go beyond short-term solutions and work to overcome the inequalities and injustices that cause poverty and oppression in the first place. Our grantees address immediate needs like food, shelter, jobs and health care, yet they also go deeper—advocating for human rights and building movements that can bring about lasting change. Our approach is rooted in empowerment—understanding that the people affected by a problem are best positioned to solve it. We work this way because we recognize that even the best tactics to end poverty will fail if human rights are denied and if local people do not have a voice in shaping solutions to the problems they experience.
We also believe that all people are equally entitled to realize their rights—a concept that is central to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which was adopted by the United Nations in response to the Holocaust. This modern concept of human rights shares much in common with the Jewish belief that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim—in the Divine image—and are infinitely valuable and deserving of respect.
We commit ourselves to securing the following human rights that are at the roots of poverty and injustice in the developing world:
- The right to live free from violence, discrimination and oppression
- The right to make decisions about one’s own body, sexuality, reproduction and marital status
- The right to have a voice in creating the laws that govern one’s society
- The right to express one’s religion, culture, sexuality or identity and to live life with dignity
- The right to earn a fair wage and a safe livelihood
- The right to own land and control one’s source of food