Violence against women and girls during conflict has reached epidemic proportions. Civilians, and especially women, have become the primary targets of armed groups and rape is increasingly being used as a weapon of war. Women human rights defenders are being persecuted, imprisoned and killed for speaking out on behalf of the victims.
RAW in WAR aims to support women human rights defenders working in areas of war and conflict, including "forgotten conflict", where there is limited or no support from major humanitarian agencies and organisations. RAW in WAR aims to strengthen their work, as well as to help end abuse and persecution against them. Mariana Katzarova founded RAW in WAR in 2006, after working as a journalist and human rights advocate in the war zones of Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya, including 10 years as the Russia Researcher for Amnesty International.
RAW in WAR currently works on three main areas:
▪ Anna Politkovskaya Award: 7 October marks the anniversary of the murder in 2006 of Anna Politkovskaya, the campaigning Russian journalist and outspoken government critic, who exposed the brutal treatment of civilians in Chechnya at the hands of both the Russian forces and the Moscow-supported Chechen officials. To honour Anna and other women like her in the world, RAW in WAR annually presents this award to a woman human rights defender from a conflict zone in the world who, like Anna, stands up for the victims of this conflict, often at great personal risk. To date, this award has been given to the following recipients: Natalia Estemirova (Chechnya/Russia, 2007), Malalai Joya (Afghanistan, 2008), the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality (Iran, 2009), Dr. Halima Bashir (Darfur/Sudan, 2010), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria, 2011), Marie Colvin (US, 2012), Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan, 2013), Vian Dakhil (Iraq, 2014) and Kholoud Waleed (Syria, 2015).
▪ Natalia Estemirova Scholarship: After the murder in July 2009 of Natalia Estemirova, a courageous human rights defender and journalist from Chechnya (Russia), RAW in WAR initiated a scholarship in her name. The one-year annual scholarship is designed to empower young women human rights defenders and journalists from a war or conflict zone to continue their quest for truth and justice.
▪ Support for Women in the North Caucasus: RAW in WAR currently implements a project in Chechnya to develop and support the availability of trauma therapy to Chechen women and girls who are victims of violence, and helps develop and strengthen the capacity of women's NGOs.