Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights: Grants for Human Rights

OVERVIEW: Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF) focuses its grantmaking activities on supporting NGOs working in women’s and transgender rights.

IP TAKE: UAF is an accessible and responsive grantmaker. It does not award huge grants, but could be a key ally to likeminded grassroots outfits working in some of the more dangerous and oppressive regions of the world.

PROFILE: Ariane Burnet, Margaret (Mudge) Schink, and Julie Shaw co-founded the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights in response to the need for nonprofits to make grants quickly in the human rights field. The fund's mission supports groups that “[p]rotect, strengthen, and sustain women and transgender human rights defenders at critical moments” through its Rapid Response, Advocacy & Alliance Building and Global Consortium grantmaking.

UAF’s Rapid Response program awards emergency grants to women’s and transgender rights groups in Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and North America. The fund typically responds to requests within 72 hours, and wires funds within one to seven days. Grant amounts through this program are capped at $5,000. Under their Rapid Response program, the UAF also provides Evacuation grants, which are designed for the emergency evacuation of female activists who are threatened or are face extreme security threats.

Before applying for a Rapid Response Grant, it is best to review what kinds of grants the foundation prioritizes and in what geographic areas. Its excellent searchable database of grants and interactive map of grantees can help grant seekers to learn more about what actions UAF has funded in the past. While UAF is a global organization, it does not currently accept applications for support in Africa or Latin America, but provides contact information for affiliated nonprofits that make grants in those countries. 

Funding to support women's human rights in Africa, Asia, or Latin America is available through the UAF’s autonomous Sister Funds: UAF Africa, UAF Latin America and UAF Asia.

In addition, the UAF’s Advocacy & Alliance Building program has awarded grants to organizations working in nearly 100 countries around the world. The fund supports groups that are working to “bring together grassroots activists, feminists, women’s human rights defenders, academics and policy makers to design the best strategic response” to specific rights issues and policies. Current initiatives through this giving platform include Impacts of Counterterrorism; the Women, Peace and Policy Initiative (WPP);  the Defending the Defenders Project; and the Sustaining Activism project.  

It is important to note that while UAF’s overall focus is on supporting women’s and transgender rights around the world, it does not ignore issues that intersect with their focus areas. These issues include, but are not limited to, sexual and reproductive health rights, environmental justice, sex-worker rights, and LGBTQ rights.


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