Survival is resistance: Supporting counterparts during times of war

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In April 2023, Sudan’s military clashed with paramilitary forces in the capital, Khartoum. The ensuing war has displaced more than 9 million people so far. Thousands have lost their homes, loved ones and lives.

“This is happening to our people, to our families,” says Ilham Ibrahim, executive director of the Sudanese Organization for Research and Development (SORD), Inter Pares’ counterpart of 20 years.

SORD is a vital voice in Sudan’s feminist scene. Before the war, they coordinated a range of programs, including providing legal aid to women navigating Sudan’s misogynist family law system. But 2023 saw the organization pivot into emergency response, focusing on food distribution and support for displaced women.

“I see how people are suffering and I know I can't meet this demand,” Ilham says. “But we have no other option than to continue.”

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Organizing in exile has been a battle of its own for another of our Sudanese counterparts. SWRC (pronounced “source”) is an advocacy and training hub for feminist youth activists in Khartoum. Today, its members are scattered across Sudan, eastern Africa and beyond – so SWRC is building a secure space online to continue engaging refugee youth.

“This is the first time we've had to work without meeting with our partners face-to-face,” says Ghadir, SWRC coordinator.

As the war grinds on, Inter Pares donors have allowed us to send our Sudanese counterparts crucial financial support to help them adapt their work.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about the future,” says Ilham. “It’s very hard to organize because no one knows the dynamics of this war and what will happen after.”

Whatever happens, the survival of local feminist civil society organizations is imperative to ensure Sudanese people themselves lead future social justice work in Sudan.

We will support our counterparts’ survival as the war rages on – so one day soon, their resistance can flourish again. When they can resume their long-term feminist legal work, youth movement building and advocacy for gender justice, participatory democracy and sustainable peace, we’ll be right there with them.

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