Mama Cash supports grassroots women's organizations
The groups funded by Mama Cash are working to ensure that women have agency over their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. Including the freedom to have sex for reproductive purposes, but also to have sex for pleasure. It also includes the right to decide when, if and how to have children or to choose to remain childless.
One of the groups Mama Cash funds is The Namibian Women’s Health Network (NWHN). Around 17% of the adult population in Namibia is HIV positive. Until recently, doctors would routinely sterilize HIV-positive women in hospitals after childbirth without their consent, to stop them from having future babies. NWHN and its partners won a court case against the government in July 2012, when the country’s high court ruled in favor of three women who were sterilized without their informed consent in State hospitals. The ruling recognized, and condemned, the violent practice of sterilizing HIV-positive women without their consent.
Risks and challenges
When our body and reproductive choices fit with how society thinks it should be, we may take for granted the privileges this gives us. Still, every day millions of women, girls, and trans people routinely have their sexual, and reproductive rights violated. For instance, women with disabilities are often considered not to have sexual needs or their sexuality is perceived as deviant. Young and unmarried women who are mothers often encounter prejudice and discrimination because in society´s eyes they “promote promiscuity”. Lesbians are regularly denied access to reproductive assistance, and national legal frameworks often do not recognise ‘family’ beyond heterosexual marriage.
"It was Mama Cash that supported us to engage in our first strategic planning process in 2011, at a time that was right for us—the network had grown, we had representation and vivid local networks in all regions, and a huge national campaign underway. Being able to engage in a thorough planning and strategizing process with all steering committee members helped to ensure that our goals and strategy are relevant for and reflect the priorities of women living with HIV throughout the country"-NWHN
On the whole, for women, girls, and trans people to achieve control over their bodies and sexuality, a transformation of values and norms regulating sexuality and reproductive choice is needed. Until a more inclusive and holistic vision on sexual and reproductive rights is widely recognized, the gains we make are likely to be limited: enjoyed by some, not by others. At Mama Cash we will continue to support women's, girls and trans groups who fight for the reproductive rights of all women.
The Issue: More than 225 million women and girls worldwide do not have access to safe contraception and family planning.
Why it matters: Being able to choose if and when to become a mother is a cornerstone of true equality. But even where rights exist on paper, many women have no access to reproductive health services. Fulfilling this need for family planning would cut maternal deaths by 30%.
How we create change: Mama Cash supports grassroots women’s organizations all over the world with resources and training so they can effectively organize and take action. Mama Cash’s grantees lobby local government or the UN, demand access to services and raise awareness about reproductive rights and health, and they provide sexual education for those who need it.
Mama Cash: Mama Cash is the oldest international women’s fund in the world. Mama Cash funds and support women’s rights initiatives around the globe that challenge the root causes of injustice.
Mama Cash’s grantees work at local, national and international levels. They educate, advocate, break down sexist stereotypes and build cultures of peace, justice and respect. They possess abundant energy, vision and ambition. But they often lack the funding, supportive networks, and access to learning opportunities they need to maximize the impact they have and transform their communities and nations. Mama Cash’s mission is to fill that gap.