Shaking Up Philanthropy

Portrait of a  Tarahumara girl in Chihuahua, Mexico. Photo ©Lucero González


It all started with a $7,500 Global Fund for Women grant to launch Semillas, the first and still the only women’s fund in Mexico. Then, inspired by a Global Fund workshop on financing women’s rights, Tewa, the first women’s fund in Kathmandu, Nepal, started with a $10,000 grant from the Global Fund. To get resources into the hands of women in hard to reach communities, such as indigenous women, rural and poor women, and women with disabilities, we have partnered with and helped to grow local women’s funds like Semillas and Tewa.

“Transnational feminist philanthropy was born at the Global Fund and spread,” said former Global Fund board chair, Amina Mama.

With a little Global Fund mentoring, local women’s funds raised resources from their communities to sustain women’s rights organizations long after donor agencies left for the next trend in international aid.

“It was a feminist philanthropy movement to proliferate other women’s funds... if a site gets taken down, there are others,” added Amina.

Since that first grant to Semillas in 1990, Global Fund has given over $6 million to 31 women’s funds. Today, all of the women’s funds based in the global south collectively raise $18 million annually.

By shaking up the unequal dynamic between donors in the global north and global south, this large and effective network of women’s funds is changing the way we think about financing a truly global women’s rights movement.

Photo ©Lucero González