“From garment factories to rural communities, women are the resistance.”

21 March 2018 - 3:00pm
War on Want in the news

Written by Marienna Pope-Weidemann and originally published in Red Pepper. 

Meet the women activists from around the world taking up the fight for social justice. By Marienna Pope-Weidemann from War on Want.

Women are the hardest hit by poverty and human rights abuse, whether at work, in war or at home. This is because in a society shaped by patriarchy, the system whereby men hold power over women, women experience gender-based oppression in every sphere of life. Patriarchy also means women are under-represented in positions of power, creating a vicious cycle.

Whilst there is growing awareness that the war on want is a war for women’s rights, what remains less visible is that it is also a war fought by women. Across the world, the frontlines for social justice are lined by women resisting oppression. From garment factories to rural communities, women are the resistance. From those fighting for justice after the shooting of striking workers at the Marikana mine in South Africa to those detained at Yarls Wood on hunger strike against their unjust incarceration.

Meet just a few of the powerful women we are proud to work with, from some of  our partner organisations around the world. International Women’s Day is just one day a year – but day in, day out, these women are struggling to secure a better future for the world.

Housing Assembly Women’s Collective
South Africa


From left to right: Faeza, Kashiefa, Anna, Carmelita, Beauwin, Amanda, Eleanor and Nokuzola

“The Housing Assembly is a city wide movement for decent housing in the most unequal city in the world. The women’s collective was formed because women are at the centre of this struggle. We are the hardest hit because we are the ones responsible for caring, often not just for our own families but the ones we work for. We are the ones walking long distances and queuing in all kinds of weather for water and wood for the fire when there’s no electricity for cooking.”

Formed in 2009, the Housing Assembly is a housing social movement organising poor people in the Western Cape, South Africa. It has a membership of over 6,500 representing over 20 communities. Housing Assembly campaigns for the rights of poor people to decent housing and affordable basic services. It campaigns together with shack dwellers; backyard dwellers who are squatting; people who are living in dilapidated social housing and facing evictions, provision of water, electricity and sanitation; and an end to evictions and forced removals.

Sahar Francis
ADDAMEER, Palestine

Sahar Francis is the director of ADDAMEER (Arabic for conscience). Established in 1992 by a group of activists interested in human rights, the centre offers free legal aid to political prisoners, advocates their rights at the national and international level, and works to end torture and other violations of prisoners’ rights through monitoring, legal procedures and solidarity campaigns. Our relationship with Addameer ensures we can bring the latest news and reports affecting imprisoned Palestinians to our UK campaigns.

“For me, pressing for progress means pushing for accountability. Palestinian political prisoners are subjected to systematic abuse by the Israeli authorities—including torture, ill treatment, arbitrary detention, and a range of other abuses amounting to war crimes. This system does not spare women and children. Pressing for progress is the work of putting an end to Israel’s impunity over its illegal military occupation, including its system of arrest and detention of Palestinians as political prisoners. We need us to join our struggles together with others working to hold accountable perpetrators of violence and those complicit in it.​”

Stephanie Vellinor
McStrike, UK

The McStrike is a movement of fast food workers coming together to demand £10 an hour, guaranteed hours and a union.  McStrikers made history on 4 September 2017 when McDonalds workers in Crayford and Cambridge went on strike for the first time in the UK. They are supported by the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.

“I made history at midnight on 4th September when I walked out of the McDonald’s where I work. I was the first McDonald’s worker to ever walk out on strike in the UK. Together with my co-workers, we went on strike to demand £10 an hour, an end to zero hour contracts and our right to join a union. We demand dignity for all workers. I went on strike to make my son proud. I want him to grow up knowing his mum will do whatever it takes to be able to provide for him and to do that I need a fair wage, guaranteed hours and a union.”

Angelica Ortiz
Wayuu Women’s Force, Colombia

Angelica Ortiz is a Wayúu woman from the Lomguato Reserve and General Secretary of Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu (Wayúu Women’s Force), an organization that raises awareness about the violations of human and ethnic rights in Guajira. They work to denounce the territorial impacts of mega mining projects, including forced displacement and the situation of violation of rights of indigenous women.

“Today, we see a new form of conquest: the land is being stripped of its minerals. Being a Wayuu woman means guarding our territory, taking care of it, protecting the water and the Woumankain – Mother Earth, the greatest woman of all, who gave birth to everything. The Wayuu woman plays a fundamental role in culture, as the transmitter of culture and a vital part of Wayuu society. We do this because we want justice for those who will come after us, we are not paid to defend the territory, it is done through conviction.”

Latest news

"Lift the Ban" on Asylum Seekers Working

17 October 2018 - 11:45am

War on Want is a part of a coalition of organisations calling on the government to "Lift the Ban" on people seeking asylum working. 

Currently, people seeking asylum in the UK are effectively banned from working, which means they are dependent on asylum support whilst they wait for a decision on their asylum claim. People seeking asylum are given just £5.39 per day to meet all their essential living costs, including food, clothing, toiletries and transport and often the cost of their asylum application.

Read more

Indigenous Colombians threatened with death for opposition to mega-mining project as defenders visit UK

16 October 2018 - 11:00am

“Death to all these scum”: threats made by far-right paramilitaries promise to “clean” the region of indigenous Wayúu campaigning against mega-mining projects by UK-listed companies in their ancestral lands. Threats arrive just days before a week of action launches in London to highlight the issue. Delegates have arrived from the United States, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, including Wayúu community leader, Misael Socarras Ipuana.

Read more

Join the conversation

RT : The militarisation of space, cyber warfare, hacking, killer robots, drones, & alternative visions of security. The… https://t.co/1uJ7mHQQzd 5 hours 49 min ago
In our new report, "The Rivers are Bleeding", War on Want exposes the devastating impact of British mining in Latin… https://t.co/sQe3R4IzfU 9 hours 5 min ago
On 4 Oct, McDonald's, Wetherspoons, TGI Fridays, Uber Eats & Deliveroo couriers made history by striking on the sam… https://t.co/VNOpxIMfBh 9 hours 20 min ago