“Genocide is being committed in the middle of Europe. All possible measures must be taken to put an end to this war. We will contribute through an action called Kvinna till Kvinna.” This was the introduction to an opinion piece published in the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter on 18 April 1993.
It was during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early1990s that Sweden first received reports of the mass rapes and other horrendous types of abuse that women were being systematically subjected to. The reports spurred the women’s movement in Sweden to call a meeting to discuss what could be done. They agreed to work under the name of Kvinna till Kvinna (Woman to Woman) and the opinion piece was soon followed by a series of fundraising initiatives for the benefit of the women in the Balkans.
A campaign entitled ”Send a woman’s package” (”Skicka ett kvinnopaket”) became the first real breakthrough for Kvinna till Kvinna. The Swedish people were encouraged to show solidarity with the women in Bosnia by sending packages with scarce commodities such as sanitary towels, tampons, underwear, soap and food. The response was huge and more than 20 000 packages were sent. At the same time, there was more fundraising for women’s organisations in the Balkans. Thanks to the Swedish support, local women’s groups could offer valuable help to women in devastated and ethnically divided towns. Women’s centres were established that offered secure shelters for women who were caught up in the war.
Network became fundraising foundation
During the first few years Kvinna till Kvinna was organised as a network of private citizens and organisations. In 1995 the fundraising foundation ”The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation” was established, under the wing of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Sweden). The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation is religiously, ethnically and politically independent. Its mission is to support women in war and conflict, and to provide information about the situation of women in war and the importance of involving women in peace and rebuilding processes.
In 2002, Kvinna till Kvinna received the Right Livelihood Award, commonly known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, for ”its remarkable success in healing the wounds of ethnic hatred and war by helping women, who are often the first victims, to become central actors for reconciliation and the building of peace”.
Over 100 partner organisations
Since the start, Kvinna till Kvinna has grown considerably. Today we support over 100 women’s organisations in five regions afflicted by conflict: Central and Western Africa, the Middle East, the South Caucasus and the Western Balkans.
In addition to working directly with women’s organisations, Kvinna till Kvinna has collected and disseminated knowledge about women in war and conflict. In our reports, you can find strategies for increasing women’s participation in decision-making and read about women and security, the right to one’s own body, why women are essential for peace and rebuilding processes to be successful, etc.
Updated in: 2017-02-17