credit: hadynyah

Our Mission

Equality Now advocates for legal and systemic change that addresses violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. We envision a world where women and girls have equal rights under the law and full enjoyment of those rights.

2016 Key Moments

Public Advocacy Campaigns

3 Global, 11 Country Specific

Activism in Action

Program Highlights

Legal Equality

In 2016, our Legal Equality program saw exciting new engagement and increased support from policy makers around the world to end sex discriminatory laws. We started off the year by launching our updated global advocacy report, The State We’re In: Ending Sexism in Nationality Laws, calling on 53 nations to change laws that deny women and men the equal right to transfer, acquire, change or retain their citizenship. We also took the opportunity to push for women’s leadership at the highest levels with the renewal of our Time for a Woman UN Secretary-General campaign, where we advocated for women nominees and a more open and transparent process. Looking to the future, we partnered with the International Bar Association (IBA), the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), Advocates for International Development (A4ID) and others on a comprehensive survey of global rape and sexual assault laws as the basis of an upcoming campaign to fix the world’s failing sexual violence laws.

Key progress in 2016:

  • More than 100 governments adopted a resolution at the Human Rights Council, “The Right to a Nationality: Women’s Equal Nationality Rights in Law and in Practice,” which urges countries to immediately reform discriminatory nationality laws.
  • We submitted a joint amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court on the federal Immigration and Nationality Act’s sex discriminatory residency requirements for unmarried fathers to transfer their nationality to children born abroad.
  • Madagascar took significant steps towards reforming its discriminatory nationality laws with continued deliberation on a draft law that would enable Malagasy women to transmit their nationality to their children on an equal basis with men. A vote is expected in 2017.
  • The African Union agreed to consider the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights' new draft Protocol on the right to a nationality.
  • The Irish Government’s Department of Justice and Equality announced that fathers are now entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave under the government’s maternity benefits.
  • Seven of the twelve 2016 UN Secretary-General candidates were women – unprecedented in the 71-year history of the UN. Though Antonio Guterres was ultimately selected in October, he has shown a dedication to gender equality. Equality Now was one of 40 organizations that took part in a consultation with him and his transition team to address the need to prioritize the prevention of violence and discrimination against women and girls globally.
  • Equality Now, the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence Against Women and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, convened civil society leaders and current and former parliamentarians from across the Middle East/North Africa to strategize on ways to end the practice of granting impunity to rapists and kidnappers who marry their victims.
  • In December 2016, Lebanon made progress to address sex discriminatory and violence-promoting laws on rape, with the parliamentary Administration and Justice Committee recommendation to repeal the law allowing rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. Lebanon is one of the countries included in our report surveying rape laws around the world to be released in 2017.
  • Equality Now participated in UN Women’s task force to develop and propose indicators of progress towards fulfilling Goal 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls – of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In December 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted its biennial resolution on “child marriage.” As a member of Girls Not Brides, Equality Now recommended language to guide governments in addressing the issue. The final resolution reflected some of our recommendations, including raising the minimum age of marriage where needed, ensuring that births and marriages are officially registered and that discriminatory laws that enable child marriages to occur be repealed.

End Sexual Violence

The impact of Equality Now’s 2016 campaigns on ending sexual violence was especially felt in our work to ensure Justice for Girls. In its first year of operation, our GENEROSITY of GIRLS Fund (TGGF) improved the lives of more than 8,600 girls across six countries. In Ethiopia, we obtained a landmark decision before the African Commission in one of our earliest cases, and, in Latin America, we held Paraguay accountable to addressing the rampant sexual abuse and forced pregnancy of adolescent girls.

In an important step towards expanding the concept of rape as a war crime, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia affirmed rape as a crime against humanity in the conviction of Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic was the focus of one of Equality Now’s first campaigns targeting mass rape in the former Yugoslavia.

Key progress in 2016:

  • Equality Now’s TGGF assisted 3,602 girls directly and more than 5,000 indirectly through a range of services such as access to safe spaces, health education and legal services. In particular we have also supported two plaintiffs in our strategic litigation cases to improve access to justice for adolescent girls subjected to sexual violence, assisting their journey to recovery. Through the Fund, the lives of the girls and their families are improving with increased financial stability, job opportunities and counseling for adolescent survivors/mothers. Also, a number of girls who were forced to drop out of school were able to resume their education.
  • We celebrated a legal victory in one of our first and longest-running Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund (AGLDF) cases. Nearly 15 years after “Makeda” was abducted, raped and forced into marriage in Ethiopia at age 13, and nine years after our first complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the ACHPR officially informed us that it had ruled in our favor! The Commission ruled that the government of Ethiopia had failed to protect - and also, importantly - to prevent her abuse and awarded Makeda $150,000 for her suffering. The ACHPR also called on Ethiopia to implement a wide range of preventive measures to protect girls from sexual violence, including monitoring prosecutions and community practices, improving training and requiring periodic reporting.
  • Paraguay has one of the highest rates of sexual violence and resultant pregnancy among adolescents aged 10-14 years in Latin America. Alongside our partner CLADEM, we successfully secured a thematic hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to hold Paraguay accountable to its obligations to Mainumby, a girl who was raped and forced to continue with the resultant pregnancy at age 10.
  • After decades of campaigning, Pakistan reformed its sexual violence and “honor” crimes laws in October. Now, rapists will be given longer sentences, trials will be accelerated and case procedures for sexual assault survivors will be improved. Parliament also closed the loophole that allowed many perpetrators of “honor” crimes to go free. Going forward, convicted offenders will face a minimum life sentence.
  • We set the groundwork for litigation before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court to address sexual violence in Sierra Leone and to repeal a ban on pregnant girls attending school. With our five Sierra Leonean partners, we are looking to set a precedent on the government’s responsibility to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes, to protect girls from sexual assault in schools and to allow all girls an access to education.
  • The strong 2015 verdict in the Justice for Liz AGLDF case, addressing sexual violence and systemic failures to address the problem in Busia, Kenya, continues to spur change on how gender-based violence (GBV) is being handled. The Director of Public Prosecutions is using Liz’s case as a best practice in implementing Kenya’s Sexual Offenses Act at the prosecutorial level and Busia’s government committed to addressing the mishandling of GBV cases. Equality Now has been called upon to train local prosecutors on the issue.

End Harmful Practices

In 2016, we continued our advocacy with activists, community leaders, educators, civil society, health care providers, law and policy makers to end this extreme form of violence against women and girls. In Africa, we contributed to progress in Egypt, Kenya and Mali; in the United States, we co-organized the first ever summit against female genital mutilation (FGM) to be held in the country; and at the United Nations, we successfully advocated for a global focus on ending FGM as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key progress in 2016:

  • The Egyptian doctor who caused the 2013 death of 13-year-old Soheir – resulting in the first ever FGM conviction in Egypt – finally served jail time and lost his state surgeon position. This was due to years of unrelenting advocacy by Equality Now and our partners, the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights (ECCR). Parliament also conceded to local calls to amend the law with increased criminal penalties and fines for anyone performing or facilitating FGM.
  • 200 parents took part in Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) ceremonies in Kenya led by our partner, the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, allowing their daughters to become full members of their community without undergoing FGM. A number of religious leaders also began promoting ARP’s.
  • Equality Now mobilized Kenyan doctors and medical bodies to partner on efforts to stop the medicalization of FGM. As a result, National medical bodies committed to include anti-FGM training in curriculum, to promote the anti-FGM law and to update the Medical Codes of Ethics to include FGM.
  • We trained Kenyan prosecutors to use laws, tools and treaties -- including the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the FGM tracking tool we helped create -- to prosecute FGM and “child marriage” cases, in partnership with the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) and the Kenya Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • Equality Now and our Malian partner AMSOPT worked with religious leaders to stop the misconception that FGM is a religious requirement. One leader secured the support of a number of Mali’s Members of Parliament towards the creation of an anti-FGM law. The Minister of Justice also pledged to pass a law targeting sexual and gender-based violence, including FGM, by December 2017.
  • AMSOPT’s campaign to mobilize and train Malian youth to run anti-FGM campaigns is a continued success. Hundreds of girls were spared when two “cutters” – who cover more than 20 villages combined – abandoned the practice. And, 20 schools in Mali’s capital have included anti-FGM lessons in school curriculums.
  • In response to our campaign with partner Safe Hands for Girls, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new FGM study which provided much needed data for policy makers to act on. It estimated that 513,000 US women and girls are at risk of or have undergone FGM -- three times higher than earlier estimates. The Department of Health and Human Services pledged to award $2 million in grants to address the gaps or problems in FGM-related health care services.
  • Equality Now, Safe Hands for Girls, the US End FGM/C Network and the United States Institute for Peace organized the End Violence Against Girls: Summit on FGM/C (female genital mutilation/cutting) -- the first international summit of its kind held in the US.
  • Following two US Government Accountability Office reports on the US's inadequate action to address FGM nationally and in Foreign Policy, we were encouraged to see the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice respond with plans of action on ending FGM.
  • Equality Now and The Girl Generation successfully advocated to remove the ‘relevant countries only’ language in the UN SDGs indicator on FGM. This will ensure that the international community addresses FGM as a global issue that requires a global solution and resources.
  • Tanzania declared “child marriage” illegal. Equality Now supported the campaign of our partners, Children’s Dignity Forum Tanzania and Legal and Human Rights Centre, which led the advocacy and filing of the case that spurred the historic ruling.

End Sex Trafficking

In 2016, we continued to engage with United Nations agencies and high-level policy makers with the goal of bringing laws and policies on commercial sexual exploitation in line with international law. Regionally, we focused efforts in Europe and Africa. In Europe, we supported partners advocating for France to adopt Nordic Model legislation – targeting buyers and decriminalizing prostituted people – to end sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, and raised the issue in the media. In Scotland, we highlighted the need for gender responsive policies and increased victim support services to address human trafficking and exploitation. In Africa, we began a three-year project towards developing targeted strategies to tackle the largely ignored issues of sex trafficking and prostitution.

Key progress in 2016:

  • We participated in a civil society meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, advising her on current trends and elevating the need to address sex tourism. We hope that the she will highlight the need to protect women and girls from sex tourism as part of her mandate.
  • In April, France overwhelmingly adopted the Nordic Model, putting the country in compliance with international and European law. Now people in prostitution will no longer be treated as criminals and will have access to support services, while those who buy or facilitate the purchase sex will face criminal charges. The success was made possible by the years-long efforts of the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP International), Mouvement Du Nid, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and the Abolition 2012 coalition comprised of 60+ French organizations.
  • Equality Now participated in the Scottish government’s Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy Consultation which resulted in an official report citing the strong call for policies criminalizing the purchase of sex, that account for the gendered experiences of trafficked women and men and which recognize that women are primarily trafficked for sexual exploitation.
  • In November, with our South African partner Embrace Dignity, we brought together 15 organizations from eight African countries to collaborate on a plan of action to address the inadequate research, attention and response devoted to the issue. Our hope is to build a strong coalition of local organizations and survivors that can strategize, share knowledge, conduct research and advocate for legal reform to end the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls.

Our Financials

Our Supporters

We are thankful for all of our donors as your support makes our work possible. We would like to recognize the following organizations and individuals for their generosity.

$250,000 and above

Anonymous (1)
Victoria Gomez-Trenor
NoVo Foundation


Comic Relief
Human Dignity Foundation
The InMaat Foundation
The Kahiau Foundation
Oxfam Great Britain
The Secular Society
Sigrid Rausing Trust
The Ultraviolet Edge and Urban Decay
Wallace Global Fund


The Dreitzer Foundation
Orchard Foundation
The Rona Jaffe Foundation
Joss Whedon


Barbara Bergmann
Marcy Carsey
Jami Gertz
The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM
Erika J. Glazer
Susan Hassan
Herzer Foundation
Jana Foundation, Inc.
Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes
The Material World Foundation
Paula Ravets, PhD & Paul Reiser
Lynda & Stewart Resnick
Monica and Philip Rosenthal
Rowland and Sylvia Schaefer Family Foundation
The Shana Alexander Charitable Foundation
Susan L. Smalley, PhD and Kevin Wall
Versace USA, INC


Bydale Foundation
Carlson Family Foundation, Inc.
The GoodCoin Foundation
Karsten Family Foundation
Vanguard Charitable


Brach Family Fund
Creative Artists Agency
Fact Frame Trustees, LTD.
The Flora Family Foundation
Focus Features Productions, LLC
Gisela Friedman
Girls Rights Project
Goldhirsh Foundation
Guber Foundation
Lisa Henson
The Hexberg Family Foundation
Victoria Jackson
The Jane Fonda Foundation
Michael Nemeroff and Friends at VedderPrice
Pfizer, Inc.
Meryl Streep - Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts
United Talent Agency
Jennifer Warburg


Anonymous (1)
Medea Benjamin
The Benjamin Bryant Mathews Fund
Jennifer Burgy
Denis Devlin
Farley Charitable Lead Annuity Trust of 2010
Judy Hofflund
Suzanne Lerner and Michael Stars Foundation
Margaret and Daniel Loeb - Third Point Foundation
S.H. and Helen R. Scheuer Family Foundation, Inc.
Timothy Shriver
Susan and Eric Smidt
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Elizabeth and Joseph Walters


Anonymous (1)
Marianne Acosta
Page H. Adler
Jeffrey Andrews
Anna Rhoda Porter and Gail Porter's Charitable Trust
Amy and Sunil Bansal
Matthew Bardin and Mo Ogrodnik
Joshua Bellamy
Maria Bello
Peter Benedek
Deborah Benson
Kaye Beth
Roni Black
Betsy Borns and Jonathan Shapiro
Cara Boyle
Brenda Bright
Roma Burnett
Twiss and Patrick Butler
Lesley Campoy and Teymour Boutros-Ghali
Traci Chee
Terri Conley
Anne Connell and Kenneth French
Christine and Francis Currie
Kathryn Deegan
Sadie Holzman Diaz and Brennan Diaz
Christine A. Doyle and Michael Yessick
Gregory Dubois-Felsmann
Dr. Rebecca Falik
Katherine Fitzgerald
Alvin Garcia
Peggy Gartner
Robert and Linda Gersh
Anthony Gibney
Martin Goldberg
Keshav Gorur
Cheryl Greene
Kathy Griffin
Melanie Griffith
Katherine Grover and Michael Campbell
The Gumbo Foundation
Stella Hall
Nicole Harris
Ahmos Hassan
Evan Hayes
Tara Hirshberg
Kristen Holden
Janice Hong
Suzan Hughes
George-Ann Hyams
Ellin M. Irwin
J.D.M. Foundation
Elisa Jagerson
Linda Janger
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Matthias Kaehlcke
Daniel Kelly Jr. and Annette S. Wheeler
Michael Klausner
Madlenne Kramer
Karen Lehner
Joy Lenz
Susan Liang

Matching Gift and Workplace Giving

Amazon Smile
American Express
The Benevity Impact Fund
Fiduciary Trust Company
Google Matching Gifts Program
Google Corporate Employee Giving
Human & Civil Rights Organizations of America (HCROA)
IBM Employee Services Center
LinkedIn Matching Gifts Program
Local Independent Charities of America
Microsoft Matching Gift Program
Network for Good
Wonderful Giving

Legacy Society

Gary Baxel
Beverly A. Benoit
Stephanie Benson
Joanne M. Callahan
Pasquale D'Ascola
Michele Dayras
Ruth Garfield
Adrienne Gombos
Liz Iannone
Laurie Jenkins
Kate Lauer
John Levin
Laura Lewis
Caroline Mcmanus
Gloria Neuwirth
Diana Rigg
Alan Seget
Marcy Stamper
Erica Taylor
Grace Warolin
Hope Wolf

Legal Services

Advocates for International Development
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
International Bar Association
Levy & Salomão Advogados
Mattos Filho Veiga Filho Marrey Jr & Quiroga Advogados
Memery Crystal
Trowers & Hamlins LLP
Union Internationale des Avocats
WORLD Policy Analysis Center, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

$1,000-$4,999 continued

Molly Lorenz
Tracy Lovatt
Jennifer MacDonald
Dustin L. Mackie
Marcus-Greenbaum Family Fund
Lauren McCann
Jennifer McCarthy
McGraw Hill Education, LLC
Catherine M. Mooney
Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills
New Directions Foundation
David Nocenti
Nora Ephron and Nicholas Pileggi Foundation
Penny and John North
Ellen Nusblatt
Jay Oleson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paige O'Neill
Alicia Ong
Laura O'Shea
Mary A. Parsons
Janvi Patel
Caitlin Pitts
Jeremiah Plager
The Polen Foundation
Laura Prugh
Mr. and Mrs. William Reid
Jordan Roach
Jay Roach and Susanna Hoffs
Kate Robin
Deirdre Roney
Jonathan Rosenberg
Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, PhD
Tara Salter
Ruth Sample
Amy Sayres
Beth Schaffer
Andrea Scharff
Erica Schipper
Chelsea Scott
The Sexauer Foundation
Michelle D. Shardell
Karen A. Simonsen and Linda J. Sherline
Colleen Smalley
Michael Soenen
Arleen Sorkin
Mark Sourian
Heather Springer
Mona Srivastava
Erin Mulcahy Stein
Billy Steinberg
Kristin K. Stitz and J. Scott Coleman
Richard Stultz
Marisa Tomei
Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner
Anne Trinque
Marissa Wesely
The Westport Fund
Chris Williams
Erin Williams

This listing includes cash gifts received between January 1-December 31, 2016.

Get Involved