News Release: Global Fund for Women and International Museum of Women Merge

A bold new force for change: announcing the merger of Global Fund for Women & International Museum of Women

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Mar. 5, 2014 — In a bold move to increase awareness and action on vital global issues for women, Global Fund for Women and the International Museum of Women (IMOW) today announced they have merged. The merger brings together Global Fund’s expertise on issues, grantmaking and fundraising with IMOW’s skills in awareness raising, online advocacy and digital story-telling. Under the terms of the merger, IMOW becomes a part of Global Fund for Women; Global Fund headquarters will remain in San Francisco, CA. with an office in New York City.

“I am thrilled by the exponential potential that this merger will create,” said Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. “By combining our on-the-ground expertise and networks with IMOW’s creativity and digital advocacy we see a unique opportunity to engage and mobilize the next-generation and to make a deeper impact than ever before.”

“We see this as an unprecedented opportunity.” said Clare Winterton, Executive Director of the International Museum of Women, now VP of Advocacy and Innovation at the Global Fund for Women. “Combining IMOW’s unique skills and content with the Global Fund’s deep expertise and reach will bring together resources and advocacy for the world’s women. Together, we’ll have far greater ability to illuminate critical issues, tell important stories, reach new audiences and spur wider action for gender equality.”

Both organizations are united by their vision of an equitable and sustainable world in which women and girls have resources, voice, choice and opportunities to realize their human rights. IMOW’s fusion of culture, media and online advocacy programming complements Global Fund’s on-the-ground relationships and grant-making activities with grantees and human rights organizations around the world. IMOW engages over 700,000 annual visitors, including visitors to global events and exhibits. In the past three years IMOW has held physical events and installations in 14 countries on five continents.

Global Fund’s international network includes 20,000+ donors, a global online community of more than 650,000, and more than 2,000 volunteers and 4,700 grantees on the ground in 175 countries. Together, the two organizations will engage more than one million visitors per year through social media, email and Web, in effect doubling their impact as separate entities.

About Global Fund for Women

Global Fund for Women defends and expands hard won gains in women's rights by focusing on three critical areas: zero violence; economic and political empowerment; and sexual and reproductive health and rights. In addition to grantmaking, Global Fund uses its influence, multimedia expertise and networks to advocate for issues and connect women to funding, influencers and partners. Global Fund was established in 1987, by Founding President Anne Firth Murray, Frances Kissling and Laura Lederer. Since then it has invested more than $110 million in supporting women’s groups across 175 countries and is one of the most consistent funders investing exclusively in the rights of women and girls.

About International Museum of Women

Founded in San Francisco in 1997, the International Museum of Women (IMOW) is an innovative online museum with a mission is to inspire creativity, awareness and action on vital global issues for women. The museum’s recent online multi-media projects have included Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices, which counters stereotypes of Muslim Women, and MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe, which raised awareness of global maternal health. Each project includes online activism. IMOW’s Founding President Elizabeth Colton remains a leading supporter of the organization and of the merger with Global Fund for Women.

Media Contact: Deborah Holmes, Vice President of Communications, 415-248-4849, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Merger FAQ

A bold new force for change: announcing the merger of Global Fund for Women & International Museum of Women

Q. Why Merge?

A.Global Fund for Women and International Museum of Women (IMOW) share a vision– a just, equitable and sustainable world in which women and girls have resources, voice, choice and opportunities to realize their human rights. Global Fund’s strengths are its networks, impact grantmaking and grounding in women’s human rights. IMOW’s strengths are “changing hearts and minds” through inspiring online content, high quality exhibitions, digital story-telling and the arts. We’ve come to realize that we can pursue our shared vision more strongly together – and that the return for the world’s women will be greater.

Q. Will merging take money away from grantmaking?

A.No, we will continue to be a leading funder of women’s human rights. We believe it will help us generate even more resources for women-led organizations and the movement. Human rights work hinges on educating people in ways that change their way of thinking about and compel them to act upon challenges facing women and girls. Together, we can develop a unique and strong media and advocacy platform and competence that can change minds and open check books.

Q. How does merging make Global Fund unique, what will actually be different?

A.We’ll have an integrated approach to women’s human rights. Many not-for-profits operate in silos i.e. campaigns, policy, or philanthropy. Together we’ve recognized that you need to integrate all three, all the time, in order to propel the kind of deep seeded change we seek. Merging allows us to do that; to play in multiple spaces and power transformative change at every level. IMOW’s skills in digital story-telling around major issues for women will catalyze and accelerate Global Fund’s communications efforts. Global Fund can connect IMOW’s awareness and story-telling effort with focused activism and fundraising opportunities to propel women’s rights.

Q. Is there a danger that IMOW becomes just “PR” for Global Fund for Women?

A.No. The merger creates a global voice for unheard women and women’s issues all over the world – especially aligned with Global Fund impact areas of Zero Violence, Political and Economic Empowerment and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. This work will be a major pillar of the organization’s work and theory of change. And it will draw both from and beyond existing Global Fund grantees and networks.

Q. What happens to Global Fund and IMOW websites?

A.In the short term, before the two websites are merged, the IMOW website will continue with links to the Global Fund website. Since Global Fund and IMOW websites have highly specialized functions, merging the two will take time. Ultimately we envision becoming online global hub for expertise, multi-media and philanthropy on women’s human rights.

Q. Are Global Fund and IMOW boards merging?

A.No, as part of the merger agreement, two members of the IMOW board will join Global Fund board of directors. They are IMOW board chair Roxane Divol and IMOW Board Secretary Chandra Alexandre.

Q. Who will lead Global Fund for Women?

A.Musimbi Kanyoro is President and CEO. IMOW’s Executive Director, Clare Winterton becomes VP of Advocacy and Innovation with Global Fund.

Q. Will the offices move? Will the name change?

A.Under the terms of the merger, IMOW becomes a part of Global Fund for Women; Global Fund headquarters will remain in San Francisco, CA. with an office in New York City. In the longer term we aim to create a single website and brand for the merged organization and the IMOW name will discontinue. You will see a number of changes in the months and year ahead as the results of the merger unfold.

Q. What does Global Fund Founding President Anne Firth Murray think of the merger?

A. Anne is very supportive. When she, Frances Kissling and Laura Lederer founded Global Fund for Women in 1987, its three “areas of concern as they relate to women” were Human Rights, Media and Communications Technology, and Economic Autonomy. So in many ways merging with IMOW puts that commitment front and center once more.


The Untold Story of the Ukrainian Revolution

ukrainian woman smiling

February 27, 2014: News from Ukraine is moving so fast that if you don’t look closely, you’ll miss the untold story: a revolution for and by Ukrainian women.

In a week, more than 80 people were killed and some 500 injured when the government of President Viktor Yanukovych – who is now being sought on charges of mass murder – tried to crush our protests with violence. The opposition movement that toppled his corrupt regime came together for a common goal, but was by no stretch of the imagination homogenous.

People referred to Maidan as a force of “male heroes” while delegating women to cook, clean, and provide moral support. Men donned signs reading, "Women, if you see garbage clean it up. Revolutionaries will be pleased.” Social media was buzzing with requests for “more women in the kitchen.” Some women followed suit with a “hug initiative” to show solidarity by hugging their male heroes.

Protestors organized themselves in “Hundreds” – self-defense groups of roughly 100 people, aligned with their region or cause. Organizing in groups of 100 is an old tradition, from the 16th century Cossack war of independence. Protestors with cars united in the “AutoMaidan” movement, calling on those with vehicles to block streets and drive alongside people as they marched to the homes of oligarchs. When Natalia Karbowska, Global Fund for Women advisor and board chair of the Ukrainian Women's Fund, called the AutoMaidan hotline to offer her vehicle, she got “you should go to the kitchen; we need help there.”

The kitchen was not an option for women like Karbowska, who, in collaboration with others, organized the “women’s hundred.” Women taught self-defense classes to female protesters. At Maidan University, an informal education center in the square, the women’s hundred invited lecturers to speak about feminist theory.

As snipers opened fire on civilians and more and more people were injured at the hands of police, it was dangerous for them to go to the hospital. Instead of getting medical treatment, they would simply disappear. The women’s hundred helped organize shifts at the hospital, documenting the names and telephone numbers of the injured protestors in case they went missing. Women lawyers offered legal aid to patients and finally, women drivers used their skills in AutoMaidan.

Others like Olena Shevchenko, feminist activist and executive director of Insight Ukraine, refused to fall in line. She started what became known as the “women squadron”, teaching self-defense classes to female protesters.

“Women stopped being passive followers and were outraged by this sexism and invisibility,” said Shevchenko. “For the majority of them, feminism is still a bad word, but they feel that they can no longer live in such an unfair situation.”

The revolution owes a lot to the women’s movement. In the early months, Ukrainians outside Kiev thought the resistance was confined to the capital city. It was women’s rights organizations in western and southern regions of Ukraine that helped export the revolution from Kiev to the regions. Women leaders with years of experience working in the region were trusted so it made it easier for them to mobilize their communities. “When the regions stood up, it was a breakthrough,” said Karbowska.

Their next step? Putting more women in decision-making roles. "One of the reasons for such incredible corruption was that there were no women in power. What is needed in Ukraine is the opinion of women, the other 54 percent of the country," says Karbowska.

According to Karbowska, many Ukraians realize they need a new generation of politicians.

“We need those for whom power is not about money, money and more money; those who can easily enter the power structures and easily leave them,” said Karbowska.

While many are looking to Yulia Tymoshenko to fill that role, Karbowska is not convinced.

“Tymoshenko is a powerful leader. She as a great revolutionary, she can motivate people at barricades and they will follow her. But Ukraine has very difficult times ahead – the country is almost bankrupt. We need to make unpopular reforms, we need to build trust in politics and with politicians, and we need to build understanding between east and west Ukraine. We basically need to turn the page and rebuild the country. And for this, we need new types of managers. I do respect Tymoshenko and her role in Ukraine and I think there will definitely be a place for her, but not as a top manager of the country.”

Just because the opposition ousted the president, does not mean the work is over. Rather, it has just begun, which is why the communities within Maidan plan on keeping the space alive.

“Maidan is staying because it’s not about changing one face to another, one leader to another. It’s about the change of systems and the fight against terrible corruption. We don’t want our new leaders to lead like him [Yanukovych]. We want the rule of law and democracy.”


Winter of Discontent, Ukrainian Women Lead Dissent

protest in Keiv

December 13, 2013: Thousands of protesters have taken over Maidan - Ukraine's Independence Square - in Kiev because pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych refuses to sign a document that would build stronger ties with the European Union. Global Fund for Women advisor and board chair of the Ukrainian Women's Fund, Natalia Karbowska, shares her perspective on the protests and the women's rights movement in Ukraine.

What’s been the outcome of protests thus far?

Today is the 22nd day of protests and so far we don’t see any concrete steps that the government and President are making to respond to the demand of people at Maidan. However, one of the biggest achievements of protests is obvious – people united in the fight for their rights and for their freedom, and in the realization that their future is in their hands. It is important that they are united not under political parties’ agenda – many of them have different political views and support different parties. The most important is that they want to protect democracy and democratic values and show real dedication, durability, and mutual support.

The experience of Maidan shows that people in Ukraine – women and men of different ages, from different parts of the country, from small villages and big cities – are ready to take responsibility and do everything possible and impossible to change their country.

Does Russia, with its abysmal human rights record, have any influence on Ukraine's human rights situation or on women's rights?

Ukrainians came to Maidan and started massive protests not only because the association agreement was not signed as planned. The catalyst of this was the night of November 30 when police cynically and violently dispersed peaceful protest of students. Clearly this practice looks very similar to the one in Russia, where we observe serious violations of human rights, especially when it concerns people who don’t agree with the government. Moreover, human rights according to Russian rhetoric are a "Western concept" that contradicts with traditional Slavic values. One can clearly see the same trend concerning women’s human rights – real Slavic women should stay at home, take care of the family, and realize their potential in the kitchen. The religions and pseudo-religious organizations that promote this ideology are very strong, powerful, very well funded and united in the networks. They are implementing huge informational campaigns aimed at discrediting gender equality principles and human rights values. Unfortunately, the same campaigns are taking place in Ukraine as well.

How are women's movements organizing citizens?

In my opinion, Maidan is a very good example of gender equality. It is showing that in critical situations our society is ready to live beyond the traditional stereotypes. In all spheres of Maidan life women and men are involved equally/almost equally – from preparing food to staying in the front lines at barricades.

We can see hundreds of thousands of women at Maidan – women of different generations. This proves that in our country, women are not staying in the kitchens where our politicians are persistently sending them. Women have a voice and claim the right to express it.

Women’s rights groups from all regions are both at Maidan in Kiev and work in the regions; women politicians are at barricades together with men, they mobilize people, and they protect the rights of imprisoned activists. Many women’s rights groups officially stopped working with the government. Women’s groups [with women specific focus] were created in social networks and we see that these groups are very effective tools to mobilize people.


Remembering Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela with Global Fund for Women board member Gay McDougall

Nelson Mandela with Global Fund for Women board member Gay McDougall on election day 1994.

“…For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela, 18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

We at the Global Fund for Women celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela: a great leader, human rights defender and one from whom we have learned the cost of defending ones beliefs. He has profoundly influenced why and how we undauntedly persevere in our mission to ensure human rights for women and girls. We are part of a movement grounded in Mandela's belief in a freedom that “…respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Global Fund board member Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was born and raised in South Africa and lived the grinding racism at the core of apartheid and the struggles to defeat it and its legacy. She says, Mandela embraced the cause and struggles of women and children. “When he opened the first democratically elected Parliament he said, 'Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.' He was true to his word as women took their place in Parliament and his cabinet.

Phumzile was appointed deputy minister of Trade and Industry during Mandela's presidency. “Some of the key policies enacted during his presidency were free prenatal care postnatal care to mothers in the public health system and free health care to children up to the age of six. He also introduced a social wage in the form of a child grant paid to children of poor and unemployed mothers, as well pensions for older persons and a social grants paid to for disabled unable to work.”

“If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.”

Nelson Mandela is remembered as a leader of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, Nobel Peace Prize winner (1993) and the first Black president of South Africa. However his legacy is broader than that. Though the path to Goodness and Forgiveness was fraught with brutality, racism, and long stints in prison, he traversed both roads with dignity and purpose. One outgrowth of that was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It's purpose: to help South Africans “…come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and advance the cause of reconciliation”

Global Fund President and CEO Musimbi Kanyoro, whose activism today was shaped by the anti-apartheid and U.S. Civil Rights movements, says the ability to forgive is one of Mandela's most enduring legacies for all struggles, including women's rights. “Nelson Mandela showed us what it means to stand for human rights. In not seeking revenge, he showed that justice is not just us. Justice is about us all, black and white and yellow and brown.”

For Global Fund board member Gay McDougall, the connection to Mandela and anti-apartheid is intensely personal and professional. She served as the Director of the Southern Africa Project for 14 years and was the only American to be appointed to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). She was with Mandela when he voted for the first time and says she feels fortunate to have been able to play a substantive role in the struggle, which dismantled an oppressive governmental system and replaced it with one of the world's most progressive constitutions.

“For nearly two decades, I was privileged to have a front-row seat to one of the greatest human dramas of the twentieth century: the defeat of apartheid,” said McDougall. “Since then I have worked in some pretty tough places: Rwanda right after the genocide, the killing fields in Cambodia, scenes of mass slaughter in Sierra Leone and Bosnia, and the remote battlegrounds of the civil war in Colombia. All of my later experiences have reinforced the lessons I learned in Atlanta and South Africa: that the true forces for justice come from inside each society; that real change is never achieved by one individual, although individual acts of courage and determination are essential. But it is vital to link those individual acts of valor into a strategy and a movement.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka noted that Mandela was keenly aware of the need for men and women to work together to fight gender based oppression. “He pointed out that, 'as long as we take a view that these are problems for women alone to solve, we cannot expect to reverse the high incidence of rape and child abuse.' This is why, Madiba (his tribal name) has remained a mentor to me.” Gay McDougall adds, “He has taught the world that it is important that you be true to your principles. And that when you work with other people who have the same commitment, you can even make a powerful regime, like the apartheid government was, to fall.” If committed groups of individuals and organizations can dismantle apartheid, surely we can bring an end to the oppression and discrimination of women and girls around the world.”

In his case we can say his life has touched and enriched many people,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka, “he is quick though to point out that it is not him but the collective that has made difference and the ANC for what he has achieved saying, 'If I have been able to help our country a few steps forward towards democracy, non -racialism and non-sexism, it is because I am a product of the ANC'.

As Dr. Martin Luther King once said when asked when civil rights leaders would be satisfied, he replied, “…we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” So let us use Mandela's wisdom and actions fuel us as we drive our agenda for women and girls around the world.

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