The Global Fund for Women is an international network of women and men committed to a world of equality and social justice. Global Fund for Women advocates for and defends women’s human rights by making grants to support women’s groups around the world. The Global Fund raises funds from a variety of sources and makes grants to seed, strengthen, and link women’s rights groups based outside the United States working to address human rights issues that include: ending gender-based violence; ensuring economic and environmental justice; advancing health, sexual, and reproductive rights; expanding civic participation; increasing access to education; and fostering social change. Since 1987, GFW has awarded more than $62 million to approximately 3,500 women’s organizations in 169 countries with grants typically ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
Statement from Dale Needles of Global Fund for Women
As the Chief Operating Officer of a foundation charged with providing grants aimed at advancing women’s human rights around the world, I see every day just how essential confidential communication is for ensuring the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. I am joining this lawsuit in an effort to maintain our ability to help improve the rights of women across the globe.
At Global Fund for Women, we raise funds from a variety of sources and make grants to women-led organizations that promote the economic security, health, safety, education and leadership of women and girls. Since 1987, Global Fund for Women has awarded more than $58 million to over 3,400 women’s organizations in over 166 countries.
In an effort to publicize our grant-making and to try to get a sense of what is happening on the ground regarding women’s human rights issues around the world, our international advisors communicate with every potential grantee. Many of these conversations involve sensitive, confidential information because of the nature of the work we do on issues like reproductive choice, political participation, rights of sexual minorities and prevention of violence against women and children. Many of our grantees work in conflict zones or on issues that are extremely controversial in their communities. On an almost daily basis, we communicate with people in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Columbia, Palestine, Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and Yemen, to name just a few — countries in which it is obvious from news reports that the U.S. government is actively monitoring particular groups and situations on the ground.
The bill will have a very real negative effect on our work. Once Global Fund for Women is stripped of its ability to communicate confidentially with our international partners, it loses the ability to have open and trusting exchanges with our grantees. Many of the groups we work with would be highly concerned if their communications were intercepted, or had the potential to be intercepted, by the U.S. government. And if we were to be seen as an arm — even an unwilling one — of U.S. intelligence, it would prevent groups from even talking to us, which would severely harm our ability to carry out our core mission: enhancing women’s rights.
We have no issue, of course, with our government monitoring people who are threats to the United States. The problem with the the bill is that it allows dragnet surveillance that is not targeted at specific threats. This kind of surveillance law sweeps unnecessarily broadly and will have serious implications for the work that we do.