UNA means „ONE“. Because as one feminist power: We inspire. We enable. We lead change.
For a better future for women and girls!
How it all started…
UNAforWomen started 15 years ago when Daniela first traveled to India to work for a charity with unemployed teenagers and young students. Positively surprised by the beauty of the land and its people, she had already – together with Jeny from Cochin – launched several multifaceted projects, including a women’s empowerment unit and an environmental project to introduce recycling and upcycling techniques.
Daniela and Jeny were there when the 2004 tsunami changed the destiny of many communities forever, and filmed a documentary to record the devastating losses in Kerala.
In September 2016, Daniela traveled to Tanzania to evaluate the possibility of setting up a charity to support women and girls in Tanzania. Shortly after that she met Ashura, a human rights lawyer who was born and raised in Dar-es-Salaam who offered her expertise to collaboratively work for women’s rights in Tanzania.
In January 2018, Daniela traveled with chief surgeon Mariam back to Kerala where they met Jeny to discuss the idea of setting up a medical camp to offer medical services to women and girls in the areas still affected by the devastating consequences of the 2004 tsunami.
These exchanges with local communities changed their lives forever. They decided to devote their time and expertise to the women and girls in need, to work for and above all, with them. The idea of empowerment was heavily discussed, and the outcome was a strategy to enable other to achieve their full potential: not power for, or power with, but power to!
This approach was dedicated to those who need it most: women and girls in rural areas and those who live in difficult social and economic conditions. Women who have become victims of domestic violence and experienced multiple forms of cultural and social discrimination. Women at the intersections of several challenging crossroads: age, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion and income.
UNA for women – the creation of a mission and vision. By reaching out to likeminded women and representatives of feminist collectives, Daniela was able to create a holistic vision and mission for a soon to be launched charity. But there was still a long way to go in terms of administration, finance and bureaucracy which the recently united volunteers dealt with collectively.
As a collective, the following first approach was agreed: UNAforWomen supports women and girls in need of medical care, offers prevention of violence against women, defends sexual and reproductive rights and enables other women through self defense – awareness of the public and the population as a whole, for human rights and the rights of women are central to UNAs work.
(If you would like to know more about our core values and objectives and the process that lead to our vision and mission statement please download our presentation UNA presentation or get in touch with Daniela at email@example.com .)
Daniela traveled back to Kerala to create a project of empowerment of the local community: together with the local experts, UNAforWomen provided advice on important medical services, the need to have a gender oriented health approach and redefine existing structures and services. The local partners welcomed Daniela with open arms and agreed to draft a project to set up a charity. Together with Jeny Ajith lectures were organized in schools and universities to strengthen the value of women’s rights throughout Kerala.
What began as a dream many years ago has now become reality – UNAforWomen was officially registered as an NGO in Austria in January 2019.
Our first field mission to prepare the camp will be in September 2019. All in all, a team of 3 people will travel to Kochin for 10 days and talk to those affected and in need of assistance.
We moved into the poorest areas of southern India to empower women and girls, raise awareness and make them the creators of their own future. Many projects were discussed, especially the need for clean and safe housing and access to medical care. Violence against women within the family and in public spaces prevail. A specific course on self defense was set up, dedicated to young girls who learn to defend themselves by using a combination of martial art techniques.
In Tanzania we conducted our first project on sexual and reproductive health and rights in September 2020 together with our local partner organisation. 60 girls received a training on sexual and reproductive health and rights – and were, amongst other things, trained in the use of the menstrual cup. This would not have been possible without a new alliance between UNAforWomen and Mina, a charity based in South Africa that ever since offers training and train the trainers programs to our volunteers.
COVID-19 changed many things, and important plans had to be canceled or readjusted – amongst other Jenys fundraising tour through Europe. We managed to get through the year with limited funds and donors having to withdraw their support due to the economic and social crisis.
UNAforWomen Mexico joined the UNA family, working closely with colleagues from UNAforWomen in Europe, India and Tanzania. Daniela travelled to different parts of the country where women had voiced their wish and need to work with UNA, especially in the fight against increasing violence against women and girls. A new course to combat online violence against women was developed for high schools in Baja California Sur, training both girls and boys, raising awareness and learning techniques how to safely communicate in an ever growing virtual world.
The work in Tanzania expanded, and we were able to support a school of Masai girls with equipment to assure the safety and well-being of its students, including bunk beds and an oven to prepare hot meals. Our workshop on womens rights continue, and the cooperation with the menstrual cup training as well.
In India, local leader Jeny worked on several projects at the same time, hosting Daniela and making sure to deliver lectures at schools and universities, continuing self defense courses, the ecofeminist project and a project on housing.
And we created our first activities report that you can find here: Annual Report
UNAforWomen Philippines was launched provided emergency relief services to women and girls including sanitary products and basic food and clean water supplies. The environmental challenges and related social and health issues that the Philippines have to battle with are hardest on the most vulnerable ones: women and girls.
In Mexico our reach to deliver trainings to combat online violence against women was amplified and reached a new state. Many girls attended the sessions and through the direct and active support received, victims felt empowered to come forward and share their experiences
Preparations for the medical camp in India were fully underway, a new cooperation with a local hospital and two local surgeons was formed.
We conducted our first medical camp! After 4 years of preparation, the active involvement of the local medical community and thanks to the enormous support of donors from Europe we were able to deliver our first camp. Many consultations, trust building initiatives and medical examinations were needed to finally get to the point where surgeries, medication and alternative treatments were combined and access to medical services was at last offered to all women and girls of our partner village in Kumbalanghi.
UNAforWomen has grown from a vague idea of a small group of highly motivated individuals into an organisation active on 4 different continents, with a wide range of topics that have been initiated by women in the Global South. The support UNAforWomen is offering is merely one to enable others, the projects are born and conducted in the respective countries, under local leadership and with the power of fantastic colleagues and feminist leaders worldwide!