Who we are
Isis International is a feminist advocacy organisation. We are activists who engage in research and analysis of the issues affecting women globally; amplify the voices, advocacies and analyses of feminist and social movement activists; build women’s capacity to use media and communications for advocacy, social change and women’s rights; engage with media and help shape a more engendered mass media; and link and strengthen the impact of feminist and social movement activists around the globe to transform society. We also hold an historic collection of materials from the international feminist movement dating from the 1970s. Our main focus is on grassroots women and activists on the ground in the global South.
Board of Trustees
Marilee Karl Honorary Member and Founder
Carolyn Sobritchea President
Susanna George Chairperson
Sonia Randhawa Vice-Chairperson
Mira Alexis Ofreneo Secretary/Treasurer
Aileen Familara Member
What we do
- Isis International Feminist Activist School
The Isis International Activist School provides capacity building in using media and communications for advocacy, social change and women’s rights, through in-house or onsite training workshops, including community radio training, seminars, roundtable discussions and study tours. Activist School trainings have been held on Peace Building, Addressing Gender-Based Violence, LBGT issues, Engendering Climate Justice, Migrant Rights, Citizen Journalism, and more. Community radio trainings have included a series of trainings on Women Making Airwaves for Peace (WMAP).
- Isis International Women’s House (Bahay ni Isis)
The Isis International Women’s House (Bahay ni Isis) provides a safe haven for guests visiting Manila, with lodgings, meeting rooms and facilities for workshops and other events. It is a women-friendly space and a gathering place for many non-governmental organisations engaged in issues affecting women around the globe.
- Media Resources
Isis International media resources comprise a wealth of print, electronic, audio and video productions. These bring Isis International’s advocacies, action-oriented research, feminist perspectives, analyses and voices, as well as those of other feminist and social movement activists around the globe. They are tools for movement building and activism. These include
- We!, the Isis International e-newsletter, provides news and information on women’s activism, campaigns and events around the globe as well as analyses and commentary on current issues affecting women.
- Women in Action (WiA) carries in-depth articles on issues facing women globally from a feminist perspective. This social movement publication links women’s issues to larger social issues and features women writers from around the world.
- Toolkits, Guides, Books and Monographs include many useful tools for women activists and advocates. Just a few examples; Gender and Climate Change: Toolkit for women on Climate Change; Engendering Peace Journalism: Keeping Communities Whole; People's Communications for Development; Women Making Airwaves for Peace.
- Audio productions include music and songs by and about women in Asia and the Pacific; radio plugs, programmes and dramas from our community radio trainings in several Asian countries on Women Making Airwaves for Peace and other issues.
- Video productions include The Isis Journey, and videos produced by participants in the Activist School trainings.
- Posters, a digitized online collection of women’s movement posters from around the world.
- Resource Centre: Isis International has an extensive, unique and historic collection of feminist and women’s resource materials dating back to the early 1970s. Isis International is digitizing these materials in order to preserve them and make them available online.
- Isis International promotes the perspectives, critical engagements and advocacy strategies of women in the global South in the various sites of engagement in community, national, regional and global levels, including the United Nations through Isis International’s Special Consultative Status of Category II at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- Isis International partners with other feminist and social movement activist groups and organisations and other international networks.
Isis International has promoted advocacy and communication for women’s rights and empowerment since 1974. In the early 1970s, a vibrant new wave of feminism was arising around the world, not only in North America and Europe, but in the rest of the world as well: Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East. Isis began when a group of feminist activists from different countries and regions, working on the burning issues affecting women around the world, started communicating with each other. We saw the need to set up our own channels of communication to link with each other, share our struggles and strategies, and build support and solidarity. And so Isis was born.
We began as a small collective of women, gathering information from local groups and the feminist movement and sharing it through the Isis International Bulletin and resource guides. We also organized some of the first international feminist meetings, all of this on a shoestring budget, powered by the energy of women and feminist activists around the world.
These women activists were taking action on and writing about issues of violence against women, reproductive health, new technologies, women worker’s rights, women farmers and land rights, women’s rights as human rights all long before governments and inter-governmental bodies, big foundations and organisations or the mass media took up these issues or even paid any notice to these. It is due to the efforts of the international feminist movements that these issues are now on the world agenda.
We took the name of Isis, inspired by the concept of the Egyptian mother goddess Isis, who symbolizes creativity, knowledge, and women’s power. A small group of women of different nationalities coordinated the work with input from women all over the world. We worked literally from our kitchen tables, before setting up two small offices in Rome and Geneva. In the late 1970s we were joined in Rome by a group of Latin American women in exile from Chile who coordinated the Isis networking, communications and publications for Spanish-language Latin America and Caribbean.
Evolution of Isis to three sister organizations: Isis International, Isis Wicce and Isis Internacional
In the early 1980s, an evolution took place. Isis started an exchange programme for women activists from feminist groups in different parts of the world. It was so successful that the Isis collective in Geneva decided to concentrate on this work and so, in agreement with the Isis collective in Rome, it changed its name to Isis Women’s Cross Cultural Exchange or Isis-Wicce and became an autonomous sister organisation. The Isis collective in Rome changed its name to Isis International. At about the same time, the Chilean exiles were permitted to return to Chile and so we transferred the Latin American and Caribbean work to Santiago Chile and Isis Internacional was born.
In 1990, Isis International transferred it work and resource centre from Rome to Manila in the Philippines. And in the early 1990s Isis Wicce transferred its work to Kampala, Uganda.
Isis International’s continuing contribution to the blossoming and growth of feminist movements
Isis International has contributed to the empowerment of women worldwide through multiple strategies of communication, advocacy, networking, and capacity building. We have been an active participant in a larger movement that has led to greater gender justice, human rights, equality and participation of women. Isis International also carries a vast documentation of the history of how women have struggled for their rights.
Isis International is proud to have been part of and contributed to the blossoming and growth of the international feminist movements. We have mentored many young women who have become leaders in their communities and in national, regional and international women’s organisations. We are committed to continue our participation and contribution to feminist and social movement activism and communication.
Creating critical communications, documenting feminist visions, and strengthening social movements
In today’s globalised world, women are facing new challenges including growing economic and food crises, climate change, natural disasters and the continued growth of fundamentalisms and armed conflicts that are hitting women and children the hardest. At the same time, empowered women constitute an important force to contribute to finding solutions to these challenges. More than ever, women need the kind of advocacy, communication and capacity building activities that Isis International provides.
Isis International promotes the perspectives, critical engagements and advocacy strategies of women in the global South. It seeks to develop and promote Southern feminist analysis to guide the work of women’s movements in the various sites of engagement in community, national, regional and global levels.
Communication is a strong dictate of our contemporary lives. Information, how it is distributed, constructed, produced, who owns and controls the technological means to do so, even define power. In this globalised age, communication systems are pivotal in the shaping of socio-economic and political relations. Media, in the hands of social justice activists, is an empowering tool towards achieving social justice and creating an inclusive world.
Merely gaining access to technologies, however, is inadequate to combat the sweeping wave of globalisation and the biases that come with it. We need to question the true nature and interest of prevailing media, information and communication systems. More importantly, marginalised women need to assert their identities and create alternative forms of communication that draws inspiration from the diversity and resilience intrinsic to their own particular way of living.
As a feminist networking and advocacy organisation, Isis International is committed to creating spaces within information and communications structures and systems that promote the many voices of women, particularly those from the South. We believe that women’s access and capacity to participate in generating and disseminating their own knowledge and experiences through various mediums of communication can lead to transformation of society.
Isis International advocates for the realisation of women’s human rights in the struggle against patriarchal and fundamentalist forces by creating critical communications, documenting feminist visions, and strengthening social movements. We engage with women to use media to carve out and democratize spaces in our lives from the family to the national and international levels; build capacity, strengthen and support southern feminist analyses, advocacy, policy interventions and practices on key gender, communications, human rights and current issues affecting women; and support advocacies and campaigns on key issues, raise the issues of marginalised women and groups and link them to other women’s organisations, feminist networks and social movements around the world.
We are attuned to the shifts and trends in the world of information and communication and the nature of women’s movements across the globe. As we progress into our fourth decade of advancing women’s rights through information and communication work, Isis International strives to respond creatively to the challenges of the changing times.