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Your New Sister is Waiting. Stand With Her!

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Your New Sister is Waiting. Stand With Her

By standing with women survivors of war, you are helping them realise their power and full potential

There is an internal transformation that happens to a woman when she knows there is someone who believes in her and invests in her, when she is put in touch with her own power, when she is filled with confidence in herself rather than shame, when she has connections for support – other women she can lean on. That is the heart and soul of Women for Women International: our deep belief in the power of women coming together to break the isolation of war, rebuilding not just their lives but their families and communities too. It is with this knowledge and belief that Women for Women International was founded 30 years ago.

30 years of sisterhood

Between 1992 and 1995, an estimated 50,000 Bosnian women endured rape as a "war tactic" during the Bosnian War, leaving them traumatised and struggling to rebuild their lives. Survivors said they felt invisible, that the world had forgotten about them, and no one cared. But one young Iraqi woman, Zainab Salbi, and Palestinian-American Amjad Atallah, cared enough to act.

They travelled to Sarajevo during the siege, where they met with women survivors of the genocide. They began raising money to give Bosnian women so they could rebuild their lives, and directly shared with them letters of solidarity and hope from women in the U.S.  This is how Women for Women International was founded in 1993. This was also the foundation for the organisation’s sponsorship programme.

The women survivors in Bosnia told them how they gained hope, respect, and connection, as well as financial support – a powerful combination that has been the basis of our work and our sponsorship programme ever since.

Our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme helps women learn about their rights, their health, how to build their own business and foster support networks so they can build a brighter future for themselves. Credit Alex Niragira
Our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme helps women learn about their rights, their health, how to build their own business and foster support networks so they can build a brighter future for themselves. Credit Alex Niragira

Women for Women International’s sponsorship programme has helped create unique personal connections between supporters and women going through the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme. Through writing letters and sharing about their lives and their hopes, dreams, and challenges, a one-of-a-kind bond is established. Despite being thousands of miles apart, it is a bond of solidarity that creates impact for a lifetime – for both sister and supporter.

I have personally been a sponsor for years and the shared joy, tears, and inspiration experienced with my sisters’ has been life changing.

In one of the world’s largest letter exchange programmes spanning 30 years, hundreds of thousands of letters have been written and shared since the programme started. Imagine the amount of inspiration and shared hope that has been captured in all those letters. In a world that is so harsh and challenging, the sisterhood created through this programme is a beacon of light. The programme truly has formed a global community of women supporting each other.

As part of our evolution and desire to reach a younger, more diverse generation, we have reimagined our sponsorship programme. We believe anyone can be a philanthropist, so we have expanded our programme to be more inclusive so that even those with fewer resources can experience the shared joy, hope and inspiration in being part of our global sisterhood.

Stand With Her

After a lot of research and conversations with our global community of supporters over the last year, we have been reimagining our sponsorship programme and adjusting the language around it. We feel that the word “sponsorship” may imply that we’re saving or rescuing our sisters when, truthfully, we’re supporting them to learn essential skills so they have the agency and independence to improve their own lives. This has always been core to our mission and how we’ve worked - and we want to reflect that in the language and branding we use with our sponsorship programme. We want the relationship between a donor and sister to be that of a supporter, not saviour.

Going forward, we’ll take a more personal and encouraging approach. This includes changing the sponsorship programme name to Stand With Her. The new name encapsulates our vision. It speaks volumes of solidarity and equality and aligns with our ethics to support and stand alongside our sisters. All our language around Stand With Her will change to reflect this new approach.

How Stand With Her Is Going to Work

If you’re curious to know how Stand With Her is going to work, it is very simple, and you can choose from two tiers to support:

Credit: Emily Kinskey
Credit: Emily Kinskey

Become a Sister Supporter

For £22 a month

In this tier, similar to how it is currently, you will be paired directly with a sister in one of the countries where we operate our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme, allowing you to participate in our letter-writing programme. You will develop a personal and rewarding connection with a survivor of war who will feel your encouragement and financial support from thousands of miles away. In this tier, you get the added benefit of knowing you have been able to fundamentally change a specific sister's life.

You will know the name of your sister, learn about her life, write her letters, and receive updates about her chosen vocation and progress in our programme.

Credit: Hazel Thompson
Credit: Hazel Thompson

Become a Classroom Supporter

From £12 a month

If supporting one sister directly feels like too much for you financially, you can still join a global community of donors to collectively support sisters by fully funding our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations classrooms around the world. From pencils and textbooks to agricultural supplies, your commitment as a Classroom Supporter will make sure that sisters across our programmes have the resources they need to participate and complete their training. You will receive regular updates on the impact you are making and how your support is building women’s power.

By supporting, you're joining a global movement that compassionately champions the belief that disadvantaged women can be incredible changemakers. With some guidance and support, their newfound skills are reinvested in themselves, their families, and friends — making the world a better place for everyone.

We've seen first-hand the immensely positive impact of our graduates, how their powerful voices and skills influence those around them.

I invite you to become a Stand With Her supporter and join our global movement.

Stand with your sisters by committing to a monthly gift. Whatever size donation you can make will have a lasting impact.

In gratitude,

Laurie Adams

Read More

This month, we celebrated our 30th Anniversary with a special evening at the V&A Museum. In her speech, our Managing Director Sara Bowcutt, reflected on the power of sisterhood to transform and rebuild lives following war.


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Our programmes

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Participants in our year-long programme work to strengthen themselves across four critical areas of social and economic empowerment.


Where we work

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Learn more about the conflict-affected countries where we work around the world. Since our origins in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have expanded and adapted our programmes to support 553,437 women living in some of the world’s most challenging environments.


Stand With Her Today

Whether you choose to stand with one woman survivor of war as she completes our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme, or spread your support across an entire classroom, we hope you’ll join us. Explore our sliding scale, starting at just £12 a month, and make an impact today.