Founded in 1983, MADRE is an international human rights organization that transcends geographies and generations to deliver sustainable gender, racial, climate, and disability justice. We foster a world rooted in our feminist values, where women and girls, and other marginalized groups, fully participate in shaping policies and decision making, their expertise and leadership is recognized and upheld, and they equitably hold power and resources within their communities.

a woman stands near the shore in Nicaragua

Elizabeth Rappaport

“MADRE succeeds because we center the leadership of women and girls in their own communities and build deep relationships based on trust and solidarity with grassroots organizations taking a holistic approach to lasting change.”

Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE
Indigenous women in Kenya dance and laugh together

Meeting needs, building solutions

Our mission is to advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to crises defined by women and girls.

Demanding justice for women and girls

MADRE began when a group of women activists, poets, teachers, artists and health professionals traveled to Nicaragua to witness the impact of the US-sponsored Contra War. These women returned to the US with a mandate from the women of Nicaragua: to bring the stories of Nicaraguan women and children to the attention of the US public and mobilize people to demand a change in US government policy.

MADRE’s Founding Director, Kathy Engel, and the women she brought together had a vision of a unique women-led, women-run international human rights organization, dedicated to informing people in the US about the effects of US policies on communities around the world. MADRE resolved to build real alternatives to war and violence by supporting the priorities of our grassroots partners and linking them to the needs of women and families in the US through a people-to-people exchange of direct relief and understanding.

“MADRE is an example that others should follow. They really know how to work with local organizations and that change comes from the grassroots”

Fatima Ahmed President, Zenab for Women in Development
a cut out image of Fatima Ahmed from the waist up holding wheat

Standing against war and exploitation

Time and again, MADRE has stood up to a US government pushing war and corporate exploitation, no matter which party was in power.

Opposing Cold War militarism

At the height of the Cold War, we helped to expose the Reagan Administration’s covert wars against the people of Central America. During the first Gulf War, we stood up to George Bush, opposing the bombs and trade sanctions that threatened Iraqi women and families. For eight years, we challenged the bogus humanitarianism of Bill Clinton and worked to hold his administration accountable to its rhetoric.

Refusing post-9/11 jingoism

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, MADRE stood united against Bush’s war on the world, including his assaults on civil and political rights, women’s reproductive health, international law and the priorities of women and families in the US and other countries. We held Obama accountable for turning his back on the progressive movement that made his presidency possible and for embracing the failed economic and military policies of his predecessor.

“Between peoples, borders shouldn’t exist, especially when what we are looking for is food for everyone, a decent place to live, medicine and education for our children, and a guarantee of a future with life and with respect. It is in this context that we understand the relation between MADRE and our sisters as a common struggle for a common tomorrow, without tears and without pain.”

Rigoberta Menchú, circa fall 1991





$65M +

MADRE has provided over $65 million dollars of grantmaking and in-kind support to our partner organizations

Over the years, MADRE has resourced partners all over the globe, including in Myanmar, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Colombia, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bolivia, the countries of former Yugoslavia, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Brazil, Syria, Sudan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Nepal, Korea, Philippines, the US-Mexico border and Yemen.

Today, MADRE is an internationally-recognized feminist organization deeply embedded in the movements for women’s equality, peace and justice and international human rights.

“As a health worker in the countryside, I want to thank MADRE for your support. It has helped us improve a little the health of our people with preventive medicine, nutrition, and maternal health care. These are things we never had before.”

A health worker in Jucuaran, El Salvador, circa early 1989



a Indigenous Kenyan woman walks with her infant on her back

Elizabeth Rappaport

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a group of four Nepalese woman hold each other while smiling and chatting