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Moving mountains: movement building causes real, longlasting change

Issues Affecting Women Programme / Partner story / Video

Photo: © Pitchwise / CURE Foundation
Photo caption: Pitchwise Festival is organised annually by CURE Foundation, based in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The festival raises awareness about violence against women, including femicide, in the region.

We believe that strong women’s movements are key to creating and sustaining social, cultural and political change. When women are empowered – individually and collectively – they are equipped to challenge patriarchal norms, tackle the root causes of inequality and prevent and respond to violence. This is why Oak invests in the people, organisations and networks that build these movements.

The Ecumenical Women’s Initiative (EWI), a Croatian women’s organisation, also takes advantage of the power of networks. EWI sees diversity as a strength and source of creativity, instead of a reason for division and conflict. By bringing together women from different regions working on the same issues, EWI promotes women’s engagement as change-makers in society. “Women don’t meet spontaneously when you are talking about a rural community in Kosovo and a rural community in central Bosnia,” says Carolyn Boyd Tomasovic, managing director of EWI. “But if we bring women into a common safe space, which we do regularly, their voices are heard, and it validates what they are doing as a valuable contribution to the women’s movement.”

It works with women of all religions to promote and support the achievement of full equality between women and men. “We believe in women and girls,” says Carolyn. “And we believe that they are essential actors for social change towards sustainable, positive peace in this region.”

By bringing women together so that they can speak with one voice, they become louder, stronger and more likely to be heard. When organisations speak on behalf of others, however, it is critical that everyone’s voice is heard. The CURE Foundation, based in Sarajevo, is an organisation that is helping to build the next generation of feminist leaders. It focuses on organising collective actions to empower women all over Bosnia. CURE exemplifies this inclusivity by giving young women and women from minority groups a seat at its women’s network’s decision-making table.

It consists of women from various nationalities, as well as women with disabilities, Roma women, and women living in rural areas.

“We provide, as we say, sisterhood activist support to each other. The world needs solidarity among women, and through the women’s network, we are trying to express solidarity and take part jointly in every single segment of society.”

– Selma Hadzihalilovic from CURE Foundation.

Oak believes in enabling connections within the women’s movement to encourage collaboration and cooperation. “We believe that together the two arms of our strategy – supporting women’s movement building and ending violence – reflect the changes we seek to influence around the world,” says Katharina Samara-Wickrama.

Check out this video featuring CURE Foundation.

Oak is committed to continue supporting civil society organisations in the Balkans region. Our aim is to strengthen women’s rights organisations and networks in these countries. We believe that strengthening local civil society ushers in real and lasting change, contributing to a society where everyone can exercise their rights and live lives free from violence.

Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report 2018