Our Story

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With your support, we are bringing dignity, hope and safety within reach for the victims of intolerance and oppression.

The Hardwired Story

Hardwired President and Founder, Tina Ramirez’s unique experience advancing legal and social protection for people of diverse beliefs in over 30 countries led her to found Hardwired in 2013. During a visit with vulnerable communities in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, she recognized the urgent need for indigenous leadership to advance their rights. Once vibrant religious communities were now struggling for survival. In each country, the people Tina met recounted the many obstacles to their freedom: social hostility, discriminatory laws, confiscation and destruction of their property, terrorist attacks and lawlessness. They did not know their fundamental human rights or how to advocate for them, and they had no one to defend them.  The conflict in Iraq placed Mandaeans, Christians, Yazidis and Jewish communities on the verge of erasure. In Syria, the former Syriac Patriarch shared, “If what happened in Iraq happens here, our Church will not survive.” A few months later, his country erupted into civil war and his fears became reality.  And no one was immune from the violence.

Tina knew that these communities would not survive if they waited for outside help. They needed immediate assistance. She designed a program to promote pluralism and peaceful coexistence in countries where it was most at risk.  She began to train and equip indigenous leaders to build a culture of respect for the dignity and freedom of people of all beliefs. The goal was to teach them their rights, how to respond when attacked and how to inspire others to support equal rights for people of all beliefs in society to help them promote pluralism and peaceful co-existence.

In 2012, beginning with a small group of carefully selected indigenous leaders, Tina trained the first Defenders of Freedom network in Sudan. They helped the country develop legal protections for the rights of all people, regardless of their beliefs, gender, or ethnicity in the new constitution. As they began to self-replicate what they had learned and multiply, Hardwired launched similar programs in Nepal and Nigeria to impact their constitution, laws, and society. By 2014, Hardwired had established a proven model for legal reform to advance freedom of religion or belief and was prepared to launch a program in Iraq to respond to the crisis there. We brought the first training in freedom of religion or belief to the country’s lawyers, journalists, teachers, religious and community leaders. And because of these Defenders of Freedom, laws are changing, communities are being transformed, and the oppressed know how to access greater protection for their rights from the government.

In 2016, we began to establish networks of teachers to defend the dignity and freedom of people of all beliefs in schools across Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon. As a result of the positive impact it was having on children affected by the violence, officials in northern Iraq invited us to train all of their teachers. Our work with teachers and children has now expanded to many more countries around the world.  

In 2018, Hardwired was officially recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, where we can further its influence on world leaders.

Since we began, nearly 400 Defenders of Freedom have been trained and mobilized around the world to bring dignity, hope and safety to communities affected by religious intolerance.  They bring justice in the courts, change the laws, transform the hearts and minds of children, and teach future generations how to live together in peace. They believe that freedom of conscience is essential to long-lasting peace and dignity. It’s why Hardwired hasn’t stopped since that first group of leaders was trained in 2012.

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P.O. Box 14743
Richmond VA 23221 USA

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