By the mid to late 1990s, domestic violence became the gender violence issue that donors most wanted to fund. International development agencies’ willingness reflected a new sense among many industrialized long-term democracies about the need for national legislation on domestic violence.5 In the United States, the biggest donor to Russia,6 attention from USAID to domestic violence activism emerged simultaneously with the passage of the first national legislation on do­mestic violence. While U. S. president Bill Clinton advocated the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, his wife, Hillary Clinton, heading the U. S. delegation to the U. N. Conference on Women in Beijing, “created a flurry of activity within USAID [leading to] the creation of the Gender Plan of Action (GPA) in 1996,” a plan to integrate gender concerns, including domestic violence, into all USAID activities.7 As a result, USAID and the U. S. State Department began to invest in a variety of programs to raise awareness about domestic violence and to shift pol­icy and practice as part of their women in development, democracy assistance, and rule-of-law programs.

Other donors who fund feminist initiatives—such as UNIFEM, the Ford Foundation, and Open Society International—similarly turned to the issue of domestic violence.8 Even the U. S.-based cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris (Altria), a more conservative donor with no prior commitments to women’s is­sues, in the late 1990s decided to target its charitable donations to domestic vio­lence service and public awareness programs, both domestically and abroad, as a ploy for publicity.9 U. S. conservatives could criticize domestic violence as part of their rhetoric about promoting families.

Adding this substantial assistance to the blame and shame model from chapter 4 suggests the following intervention model:

TABLE 5.1. Investing in Blame and Shame



foreign agents

global norms


localizing activism/ vernaculization

feminist entrepreneurs and transnational feminist networks

global norms as modeling and certifying activism, activists appropriating and translating

financial support for activism and awareness campaigns

raising awareness

reforming policy

human rights and rule-of-law advocates


supporting interdisciplinary collaborations, training of state personnel

reforming practice

The assessment of the effectiveness of assistance speaks to a second concern ex­pressed by observers of democracy assistance and postcommunist civil society. The concern was not just that such funding was taming what should be a dy­namic civic sector, but that the most vibrant movements within postcommunist civil society turned out to be the ones the West least wanted: religious and na­tionalist movements (Kaldor 2003, 79). Targeting women’s activism was one way to shape civil society to support constitutional liberalism, an essential part of de­mocracy imagined by the Western promoters of democracy assistance.

appropriating, translating, and diffusing norms