Urgent Action Fund

Urgent Action Fund



Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (Urgent Action Fund), as part of women’s rights movements worldwide, is dedicated to supporting women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) working to create cultures of justice, equality and peace. We provide rapid response grants that enable strategic interventions and participate in collaborative advocacy and research. Urgent Action Fund is led by activists, rooted in feminism, and strengthened through solidarity.



Urgent Action Fund’s core belief is that women’s rights are human rights, and that the realization of universal human rights is a fundamental prerequisite for establishing secure and stable civil societies. Strong civil societies are in turn the foundation upon which global peace is built. Urgent Action Fund believes that WHRDs themselves are the primary change agents in securing women’s human rights at the local/village, national, regional and international levels. Above all, we value the ideas, autonomy and capacity of women’s human rights defenders to create change.



Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights was established in 1997 following requests by activists from around the world who said they had nowhere to turn when they face a crisis or critical opportunity. Since then, Urgent Action Fund has granted more than $5 million in 1,000+ Rapid Response Grants to support women’s and LGBT human rights defenders in 110 countries around the world. Our unique philanthropic strategy has served as a model for other funds, including sister funds Urgent Action Fund – Africa and Urgent Action Fund – Latin America. Urgent Action Fund is located in San Francisco, CA.


Working areas

Urgent Action Fund supports women and trans* human rights activists working on a diversity of issues, including peace, social justice, environmental justice, political rights, land rights, reproductive rights, sexual orientation and gender expression in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern/Central Europe, and North America. Urgent Action Fund is the only Rapid-Response funder that specifically focuses on women’s and trans* human rights defenders around the world.


Using online, text and mobile funding applications, Urgent Action Fund responds to all requests 365 days per year, in any language, within 72 hours and awards grants within 1 to 7 days. Urgent Action Fund’s rapid response grants support the resilience of movements by protecting activists who face immediate threats and by supporting advocacy when windows of opportunity emerge to set new legal or policy precedents. While each grant is relatively small in monetary terms, the impact is often disproportionately large. There are few resources available that women can access quickly in areas of high need.


Grantees can apply, in any language, and are guaranteed a response within 72 hours, 365 days a year. Urgent Action Fund trusts that women know best how to solve problems in their communities.



In addition to Rapid Response Grantmaking, Urgent Action Fund operates an Advocacy and Alliance-Building Program to advance women’s leadership and amplify the voices and experiences of WHRDs through its access to donor and policy communities. This includes regularly presenting at human rights conferences and participating in various human rights networks or coalitions to raise awareness of pressing women’s and trans* rights issues.

Urgent Action Fund also organizes convenings with its grantees, advisors, and colleague organizations to support the long-term growth and resiliency of women’s and trans* movements. These convenings are opportunities for Urgent Action Fund advisors and grantees to come together in a safe space to build networks, share cross-regional strategies, and improve their personal and organizational safety through digitial and physical security trainings.


Working context

In the last few years, Urgent Action Fund has seen an unfortunate trend – requests for protection and security of women’s human rights defenders have continued to increase. As an organization dedicated to providing the resources women need to sustain their work and themselves, Urgent Action Fund is striving to meet the needs of this growing demand for safety.


Stories from UAF

In March 2013, Hong Kong’s High Court made a landmark decision to overhaul the refugee status determination process by the end of the year. Currently, Hong Kong relies on the UNHCR to process all of its refugee claims and has no domestic asylum process. Due to the UNHCR’s capacity constraints, asylum-seekers in Hong Kong frequently wait up to five years for their refugee status determination interviews, during which they have to survive on minimal support from local NGOs, have no right to employment, and have very limited rights to education and healthcare. In September, the government planned to hold legislative sessions to determine what the new process would entail. In response to this opportunity, Urgent Action Fund awarded a rapid grant to 25-year-old Pakistani journalist, blogger, and one of the founders of Karachi-based free expression NGO Bolo Bhi, Sana Saleem, to launch a campaign “Stories Beyond Borders” highlighting the stories and challenges that refugee women in Hong Kong face. The goal of Sana’s campaign is to influence the current discussions in Hong Kong and ensure that the needs of refugees and asylum seekers are appropriately taken into consideration. To read the full story, click here.


 In response to the arbitrary arrest and brutalization of 12 LGBT individuals in Mandalay, Burma in July 2013, Urgent Action Fund awarded a rapid grant to LGBT Rights Network to launch an awareness raising campaign about violence against LGBT people in the country. The campaign included a press conference, held in Mandalay on July 14th, and advocacy in Yangon. The press conference featured statements from two victims of the incident, along with other LGBT activists, to highlight the alarming abuse of authority directed towards the LGBT community by police officials. Importantly, the two victims who presented at the conference were temporarily evacuated to a safe space to prevent backlash from local police and authorities. A meeting will be held with government officials, the Myanmar National Human Rights Council, UN agencies and international NGOs to share information about the incident, discuss opportunities for legal and advocacy follow-up, and advocacy for improved protection and promotion of LGBT rights in the country. This was Urgent Action Fund’s first grant directly to a LGBTQ organization in Burma. To read the full story, click here.


FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/urgentactionfund

Twitter: @UrgentAct


*Updated June 2015.


Danny Kaufman, Development & Communications Officer


660 13th St., Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94612 U.S.A.


+001-415-523-0360 | Fax: +001-415-520-0626

UAF First Step to Success, Ukraine

Marriage Equality, Ireland, January 2012

UAF First Step to Success, Moldova