Voices at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum 2019

Our Work Events Emma Fulu

WORDS: Emma Fulu / 19.11.2019

Recently, I was honoured to attend the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum in South Africa, the world’s leading research conference on violence against women and girls. I was so moved and inspired by the front-line voices and determination of women humanitarians from around the world.

WORDS: Emma Fulu / 19.11.2019

I’ve returned to work knowing it’s more vital than ever that we find money for women and girl-led networks. It is women’s movements that drive change. And, the more we can support them in their day-to-day work and amplify their voices, the more we’ll see that change happen.

As the brilliant Mary Ellsberg, Director of the Global Women’s Institute, stated from the podium:

"Women's rights organisations: they were there BEFORE the conflict, DURING, and they'll be there AFTERWARDS when all the humanitarians leave, so it's important to continue to support women's organisations."

Launching VOICE at the forum was one of the highlights of my professional career. I met colleagues from across the humanitarian and development sectors who gave me hope that together we can build a better future. VOICE, co-founded by myself and Mendy Marsh, is a global organisation with roots in the US, which aims to create a system where women and girls directly affected by crisis are leaders in humanitarian response. VOICE respects the power and authority of feminist leaders in their communities and aims to provide them with the resources to implement their own solutions. VOICE accomplishes this through the lens of three pillars for change: showing up and shaping humanitarian action, amplifying voices, and growing resources and partnerships.

Voices from #SVRI2019

I was proud to take part in two booths at SVRI 2019 - with both VOICE and The Equality Institute represented. At the Equality Institute booth, we had a number of reports available for attendees to read and access, as well as our feminist merchandise available to buy. Over at VOICE, it was great to see so many voices coming through loud and clear. Our interactive booth asked attendees to contribute their voice by writing a note and sticking it onto a banner. Reflecting upon these notes, three overall messages stood out:

  1. Respect women and girls as experts
  2. Never stop challenging patriarchy
  3. A better future is ours to own

One of the contributors called on us to focus on women’s movements as the future:

“Women's movements operating in the most low-resource, multi-oppression communities are the most visionary in imagining the future of our world and what needs to be done to get there.”

Many, many others echoed this sentiment, asking us to ensure that the whole humanitarian sector “recognise that women and girls are a wealth of information on how to make programming more effective” and that we can only “ask for their ideas and solutions” if we partner with them and fund their work.

Today, more than ever...

We need your help to fix the humanitarian system with women and girls. Help us bring about reform within the system and make sure that women and girl-led programming is given the space, voice and funding it needs to thrive. Because a better future is ours to own.

Add your voice to the site here. VOICE is disrupting the shape of humanitarian response so that girls’ and women’s needs, and rights become a priority for all those involved in providing frontline services and funding. Help us make this change a reality.

With hope and determination,
Emma, Mendy and the VOICE team