Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) – Freedom of Expression for Women Environmental Defenders in the Indo-Pacific Region

On October 6, 2017, the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 was signed into law, which states “the political participation, and leadership of women in fragile environments, particularly during democratic transitions, is critical to sustaining lasting democratic institutions.”  Within the context of this legislation and the U.S. Department of State’s Plan to Implement the 2019 U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that promote and defend freedom of expression and improve the equal participation and protection of women environmental defenders in the Indo-Pacific region, with a specific focus on mainland and maritime Southeast Asia.

Program Focus :

The program’s goal is to improve the ability and security of women environmental defenders to :

  • obtain information about natural resource policies and projects;
  • participate in decision-making processes by freely and peacefully assembling and expressing their ideas and concerns about natural resource policies, projects, and their impact on local communities and the environment;
  • seek access to justice;and meaningfully contribute to gender-sensitive environmental policy and project development.

The program’s objectives are to advance women’s leadership and advocacy on local and national priorities related to natural resources and the environment; equipwomen environmental defenders and civil society organizations (CSOs) with the necessary skills to conduct their work safely and effectively without threats of violence; and strengthen public and institutional knowledge of technical environmental information, such as environmental impact assessments, climate mitigation, environmental pollutants and their impact on health, technical environmental language and processes, and accountability and the impact of environmental policies on communities.

Outcomes :

The program’s expected outcomes are that women environmental defenders meaningfully and safely contribute to gender-sensitive environmental policy development and that women environmental defenders and CSOs are better coordinated in their local, national, and regional-level advocacy for responsibly and sustainably managing natural resources.

Activities : 

Activities may include, but are not limited to :

  • surveys to determine which communities or groups of women environmental defenders face the most threats, attacks, and killings and why it is key to prioritizing those communities/groups for lasting impact,
  • conducting organizational security assessment, including physical and digital assessments to equip women environmental defenders and organizations with tools to reduce risk, counter threats, and freely and peacefully assemble and express their ideas;
  • working with targeted women environmental defenders to help them achieve accountability for past violence and violation of law;
  • creating and strengthening women environmental defenders’coalitions on-the-ground and in multilateral fora to increase awareness of threats and challengeswomen environmental defenders face,
  • assisting women environmental defenders’ coalitions to develop safeguarding policies, referral mechanisms, and GBV training and awareness building among organizations;
  • providing training and capacity building on technical environmental information and processes, such as participation in environmental impact assessments, understanding environmental pollutants and their impact on health and the environment, technical environmental languagein local languages, and how to engage in effective advocacy;
  • facilitating engagement between women environmental defenders and national, regional, and international environmental (including climate)policy and finance institutionsto foster transparent and participatory environmental governance and policy-making processes that allow for citizen oversight and input into natural resource decision making;
  • building organizations’capacity to conduct community-led research and data analysis of environmental issues or impact;
  • fostering connections and exchanges between environmental groups and women’s groups to strengthen cross-movement knowledge sharing; and
  • supporting locally-driven advocacy and awareness raising efforts through small grants.


Eligible Applicants :

DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernment organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses.


Application Deadline : April 9, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST

Funding : 750,000 – $1,500,000

Further information

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