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Addressing gender equality in Switzerland

Issues Affecting Women Programme / Partner story

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While unequal power relations are created and perpetuated by legal, political, economic, and cultural systems, we believe there is great capacity to change these systems for the better of all. The Issues Affecting Women Programme (IAWP) supports women’s efforts to build, lead, and grow strong, vibrant, and influential movements that achieve equity and justice. In our 2020 annul report we highlighted this process in action in Switzerland, where Oak has its main administrative office. Read on to find out more.

The IAWP has been supporting Swiss women’s organisations since its first grant in 2004, which was in support of FIZ in Zurich, a not-for-profit organisation that provides specialised services to victims of trafficking.

Since then, the programme has expanded its support to nine other organisations across the country to: support domestic violence services, including psychological violence; address trafficking and exploitation; support migrant women to overcome the additional barriers they face in accessing services and understand their rights; and strengthen women’s movement building. Hear from some of the female activists and organisations in Switzerland who are working to raise awareness about these issues and combat some of the challenges faced by women by watching the following video.

In 2020, we decided to refresh our strategy in order to be more responsive to the needs of women and to the opportunities on the horizon. “The Swiss Women’s Movement has really taken off in recent years and we have the chance to transform the snail into a cheetah,” says Katharina Samara-Wickrama, director of the IAWP.

The IAWP’s new strategy will put movement building at the heart of our work in Switzerland. As one of the few foundations focusing on movement building in the country, Oak Foundation can play a unique role in supporting grassroot organisations to connect, mobilise, create, and share knowledge.

The programme is planning to further support advocacy and lobbying efforts in order to disrupt the status quo, create systemic change, and improve the legal frameworks that protect and advance women’s rights. The IAWP is also planning to expand its support to organisations working to end domestic violence in Switzerland, with a specific focus on migrant women. This will build on the existing portfolio on domestic violence and expand our support to other French-speaking cantons where services are not available.

You can stay up to date about the new programme strategy on our website.