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Equality Now is a non-governmental organization founded in 1992 whose purpose is to, in its own words, work "for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls around the world".The group provides an international framework for spreading awareness of issues and providing support to local grassroots groups working to address issues of concern to it. The organization lists its primary concerns as being sexual violence, trafficking of women, female genital mutilation, and discrimination in law.
In 1992, Jessica Neuwirth, Navanethem Pillay, and Feryal Gharahi, attorneys from the United States, South Africa and Iran respectively, created Equality Now. These founders believed that acts of violence against women were violations of the fundamental human rights guarantees as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They felt that the human rights movement had neglected women’s rights, dismissing violations as “cultural” or “private”. Issues such as domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and reproductive rights were not part of the agendas of established human rights organizations.The founders had a vision of an organization that would work closely with grassroots women’s organizations in every region of the world, sharing and receiving information on the status of women and violations of their rights, and mobilizing public protest in response. Immediately after the opening of its New York office, Equality Now began to identify groups whose work matched its own mission and to consider how to support and reinforce the actions those groups were already taking. Another part of the founders’ vision was to create a presence around the world through offices in different regions that would develop stronger relationships with the local groups and regional networks that are best placed to assess the most effective actions that can be taken to end violence and discrimination in their communities.Equality Now found a way to raise public consciousness on women’s rights as human rights and to channel concern into strategic action through the Women’s Action Network. People who joined the network began receiving Women’s Action campaign briefings and were urged to take action against human rights violations against women by writing letters of protest directly to government officials, sharing information about these violations within their communities, and taking other steps to support the struggle to end violence and discrimination against women.