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Support Women and Non-binary Human Rights Defenders in Ukraine

A Q&A with Kate Kroeger, Executive Director of Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights. This moment has felt hard. Watching a war unfold miles away feels surreal. Yet, we...

A Q&A with Kate Kroeger, Executive Director of Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights.

This moment has felt hard. Watching a war unfold miles away feels surreal. Yet, we are committed to doing what we can to show our support and rally together for our global community.

We've committed 100% of proceeds from Peace product sales to be donated to the Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights.

With your purchase March 9th - March 16th 11:59pm EDT, you’re directly supporting the work of women and non-binary feminist activists on the ground. As human rights defenders in Ukraine and beyond strive toward a future of justice, equality and peace in this turbulent moment, we must do what we can to lift them up.

100% of proceeds from Peace products will be donated to the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights, supporting the Ukrainian Fund.

We sat down with the Executive Director of Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Kate Kroeger (she/her).

Kate shares with us how she reimagines our world and how we can support global feminist movements in this critical moment.

Q: What do you want to reimagine in the world?

A: I want to see a world in which gender and racial justice are the norm. A world where every person, no matter who they are or where they are born, can experience justice, equality, and peace. This means reimagining the oppressive systems upon which most of our societies are built and replacing them with new cultures of care and belonging.

It also means abundantly resourcing and acting in solidarity with the frontline activists who are leading those struggles. Too often, women and trans human rights defenders face serious threats to their lives for the work they do. I want a world in which they are celebrated instead.

Q: Tell us about the Urgent Action Fund for Women's Rights.

A: Urgent Action Fund (UAF) exists to support feminist activists at critical moments. For the past 25 years, UAF has been providing emergency support to women, trans, and nonbinary activists when they face unanticipated opportunities or threats as part of their work. We are recognized as pioneering the practice of rapid response grants - quick infusions of cash that can be a first or last resort when the situation is changing quickly and activists need it most.

Through our grants, we support some of the world’s most courageous feminist activists as they strive to create cultures of justice, equality, and peace. Our priority is always to identify and support activists who are most marginalized by their identities and who work for gender justice and LGBTQI+ rights.

Image provided by the Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights.

Q: What drew you to this work?

A: My mother passed away when I was quite young. I was raised by a single father who did a beautiful job and who was a feminist himself, but he couldn’t replace my longing for women’s leadership – in my life or in the world. From an early age, I was looking for role models and examples, always asking: What does this mean for women? And I made answering this question my life’s work.

As I moved through the world and encountered women with different experiences, whether in rural communities in Canada or big cities in India, I saw how women’s circumstances are deeply shaped by race, caste, location, and so many other factors. I also saw that women are fighting for liberation in so many ways – and that I could join them, walk with them, learn from their wisdom.


Q: What is rapid response grant-making and why is it core to your work?

A: Urgent Action Fund accepts applications in any language and any format - a phone call we transcribe, a written proposal, or even simple text messages letting us know what their needs are and what makes the situation urgent. We know that when things are moving fast and the situation is fluid for activists on the frontlines, they may not have time for long drawn out processes. We respond to all the requests we receive in 1-2 days, and we strive to move money within a week, all throughout the year. Activists can receive up to $8,000 USD.

To help us make sure we are responding appropriately, Urgent Action Fund works with an international network of advisors, based in the countries and communities that receive our funding. These advisors conduct outreach and provide recommendations on our funding decisions.

Urgent Action Fund’s grantmaking model enables women and trans human rights defenders to act quickly, catalyze their advocacy, mitigate threats, and prevent backsliding in their ongoing work to advance the human rights of all people.

Rapid response grants are a lifeline to feminist activists worldwide.

"Rapid response grants are a lifeline to feminist activists worldwide."

Q: Can you tell us about some of the stories of human rights defenders UAF has supported? Where are they located and what's the work they do?

A: In Syria, Amira Hakimi (name changed to protect privacy) is the president of a women’s rights organization in Kobani that works to advance the rights of Kurdish women and girls. With the expansion and aggression of ISIS in Syria and northern Iraq, Amira and her staff received threats against their lives. And that’s when she contacted Urgent Action Fund. Amira requested a grant of $5,000 to relocate her office and staff to a safer location, across the border into Turkey and away from the violence. Within 48 hours, Urgent Action Fund responded to her request – ensuring Amira and her colleagues’ safety and ability to continue their work to support women and girls during this critical time. Supporting Amira to escape Syria and relocate is incredibly important, both for her safety, and also the longevity of the women’s rights movement in Syria and the region.

In the United States, SAS is an organization that provides mentorship opportunities to young Black women and LGBTQI youth to strengthen their leadership skills and community organizing tactics. In turn, these young leaders train and mobilize other youth in their communities to respond to issues of gender based violence and discriminatory policing practices. With rapid support from Urgent Action Fund, SAS youth leaders participated in the “11 Days of Action” campaign to bring attention to the 11 times Eric Garner declared “I can’t breathe,” just before his death at the hands of New York City police officers. In addition to the demonstrations, SAS youth leaders also provided Know Your Rights information for LGBTQI youth of color, including rights when interacting with the police during social actions.

Q: One of your core values is "feminisms"- what does that mean and why does it matter in a global context?

A: At Urgent Action Fund, we recognize and respect a multiplicity of feminist traditions, and affirm diverse approaches to achieving equality for all genders. We honor local wisdom and self-led activism.

We each bring our own lens to this work, based on our experiences and identities, and that enriches our collective struggles. Our feminism centers people facing multiple oppressions. When we back their visions, we all win.

"Our feminism centers people facing multiple oppressions. When we back their visions, we all win."

Q: Tell us more about your work in Ukraine, what type of support are you providing on the ground?

A: UAF’s model of rapid response funding was built for moments like this, where quick infusions of funding can address immediate and urgent needs. UAF is committed to being flexible and responsive in this moment, listening to and learning from all of our partners and advisors in Ukraine and the surrounding areas in Eastern Europe.

We are working with approximately 20 feminist advisors in Ukraine and nearly 45 across Eastern Europe. We have already provided 10 rapid response grants to organizations led by women, trans, and gender nonbinary activists since the war started on February 24.

We are responding to requests from groups and individuals seeking:

  • - Support with emergency evacuations and relocations
  • - Legal, financial, and medical support
  • - Security and disaster survival training
  • - Increasing shelter capacities for children, women, and all other civilians
  • - Access to alternative communication channels, mobile internet, power banks, VPNs, proxy, spare phones, and tablets
Q: How will our donation be utilized?

A: re—inc's donation will help us make rapid response grants that will meet the immediate needs of activists to ensure their wellbeing and survival, through:

  1. 1. Support for ongoing emergency evacuations and relocations
  2. 2. Legal, financial, and medical support
  3. 3. Psychological first aid
  4. 4. Digital and physical security and protection

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our community ?

A: Urgent Action Fund is part of an amazing consortium of independent Sister Funds across the globe. Led by feminist activists in each of our regions, we sustain feminist activism by supporting the resistance and resilience of frontline defenders. Check us out and join us in our work!

Support the resiliency of feminist activists in Ukraine. 100% of proceeds from Peace products sold March 9th - March 16th will be donated to Urgent Action Fund.


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