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The Association internationale des femmes (AIF; International Association of Women), a short-lived feminist and pacifist organization, was based in Geneva and active between 1868 and 1872. It demanded full equality between men and women. This was too radical for many feminists at the time. In 1872 it was dissolved and reorganized as a new association called Solidarité: Association pour la défense des droits de la femme (Solidarity: Association for the Defense of Women's Rights), which major achievement has been to get access for women to the University of Geneva.

Since then, NGOs around the world play a crucial role in advancing women's rights issues around the world. They work tirelessly to address gender-based discrimination, violence against women, and other challenges that hinder gender equality. Through advocacy, programs and initiatives, NGOs have been at the forefront of promoting women's rights and empowering women to achieve their full potential.

One of the key roles of NGOs in advancing women's rights issues is advocacy to raise awareness about gender inequality and push for policy changes that promote women's rights. They engage in lobbying, campaigning, and advocacy efforts to promote gender-responsive laws, policies, and programs. NGOs also collaborate with governments, international organizations and other stakeholders to promote gender mainstreaming and ensure that gender perspectives are integrated into all aspects of policy and decision-making processes.

Moreover, NGOs play a critical role in promoting gender equality and women's rights in international forums. They participate in global conferences, forums, and conventions to raise awareness, advocate for policy changes, and hold governments and other stakeholders accountable for their commitments to gender equality. NGOs also monitor the implementation of international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and report on progress and challenges. The Council of Europe Committee states NGOs as advocates of gender equality and women's rights" seeks to enable NGOs to promote the Council of Europe’s ground-breaking conventions and recommendations concerning women’s rights and gender equality in their respective NGO and in civil society. The Committee encompasses a broad variety of NGOs with focus on women’s rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women.

NGOs also provide direct support to women and girls through their programs and initiatives. They offer a wide range of services, such as education, healthcare, legal assistance, economic empowerment, and psychosocial support, to address the unique challenges faced by women and girls. These programs not only empower women economically and socially but also help to address the root causes of gender inequality, such as poverty, lack of access to education, and gender-based violence.

The NGOs’ tireless efforts have made significant strides towards advancing women's rights, but there is still much work to be done. It is essential to continue supporting and collaborating with NGOs in their mission to promote gender equality and ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected and upheld worldwide.

At NMA we are privileged to regularly partner with wonderful organisation and people working to advance women’s rights issues, from fighting against menstruation poverty in Poland to girls’ education in Nigeria and many more. How does your organisation support women’s rights?

In recent years, the digitalization of tools and technologies has revolutionized the non-profit sector, which has been able to achieve new levels of efficiency and effectiveness. The desire for more openness, accountability, and efficiency, among other things, has helped to promote and facilitate this change.

By utilizing digital tools, the non-profit sector has been able to increase openness. Since the invention of the internet, NPOs have been able to post their financial and operational reports online, giving the general public access to crucial data about their operations. They also have been able to draw more donations and support as a result of the enhanced transparency that has contributed to the development of trust between non-profit organisations and their stakeholders.

NPOs are becoming more accountable thanks to the digitalization of tools.These made it possible for non-profits to gather and analyze data, which has enhanced their ability to make decisions, as in other sectors. NPOs are now able to evaluate the results of their efforts and decide how best to allocate resources while also enhancing their services thanks to the usage of data analytics.

Additionally, non-profit organizations are now more effective because their administrative load has decreased as a result of the usage of digital tools, allowing them to concentrate their efforts on providing services to communities and individuals. Digital tools have also made it possible to automate a number of their procedures, giving their staff more time to concentrate on other crucial activities. See for instance here for eight free tools for nonprofits.

The usage of social media is one of the most significant technology tools in the nonprofit sector. Social media has grown in importance as a tool to engage with their supporters, reach out to their stakeholders, and deliver their message, to promote their cause, communicate updates, and inspire supporters to take action, including in raising funds.

The usage of fundraising platforms is a crucial digital tool in the non-profit sector. As they can be used to gather online contributions from supporters, these platforms have made it simpler for NPOs to raise money for their causes. Nonprofits can now create campaigns and follow their development on fundraising platforms, which helps them better understand the effect of their fundraising efforts. It is also simpler to recruit volunteers, organize their efforts, and give them guidance and support thanks to digital tools.

There have been difficulties in the nonprofit sector's transformation due to the need to invest in digital tools and technologies. This investment is required to ensure that NPOs can fully benefit from digitalization and that they can compete in a world that is becoming more and more digital. Nonprofits also face the problem of keeping up with the fast evolving digital landscape, thus need to continue investing. In order to stay current and productive, and provide even better services to affected populations and their partners the sector must be able to adjust to new technology and methods of operation. To learn more about these, discover 94 free or low-cost tools and resources for nonprofits.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are organisations that are not affiliated with any government and whose primary objectives are social justice and human rights.

The term as it is used today was first introduced in Article 71 of the newly-formed United Nations' Charter in 1945. Later on, the term was used more widely. According to the UN, an NGO is any private organization that is independent of any government administration, as long as it is not for profit and is not a criminal group or a political party (source).

Statistics about the number of NGOs worldwide are incomplete, but according to the United Nations Development Program, there are approximately 40,000 non-governmental organisations in the world in addition to the community-based organisations which number in the hundreds of thousands (source). Both NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs) work share a common goal – the welfare of society and the people, with CBOs focusing typically on a specific locality. The aim is to improve lives in that locality in general. They are active in a vast variety of activities, like NGOs, such as health, education, food, sports, arts, religions, animal welfare, etc. The overarching term for all non-profit organisations, including NGOs and CBOs, is are Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The first international NGO was most certainly the Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1839. Many organizations that came after were inspired by the anti-slavery movement, which peaked at the close of the 18th century. Other early NGOs grew out of wars, including the Red Cross in the 1850s after the Franco–Italian war; Save the Children after World War I; and Oxfam and CARE after World War II (source).

BRAC (The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) is nowadays the world’s largest NGO. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC’s mission is to alleviate poverty and encourage economic participation by empowering people through social and economic programs.BRAC also sets up and runs schools and universities, The Economist described it as “the largest, fastest-growing non-governmental organization in the world–and one of the most businesslike.”

Civicus is an international non-profit organisation, which describes itself as “a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world." Founded in 1993, the organisation today counts more than 8,500 members in more than 175 countries, with its headquarters in Johannesburg and offices in Geneva and New York. Check their website for more.

Eighty percent of citizens agree that nongovernmental organisations make it easy to be involved in positive social change (source). The number of people worldwide donating money to NGOs increases steadily year after year and is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2030 (source).

Do you have any fun or interesting facts to share about your organisation? We would love to hear from you.

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