Despite overwhelming data that demonstrates the importance of investing in women’s health, education, and leadership, few resources are allocated for women’s rights. In the United States, only 7.3 percent of total private foundation dollars are given to programs that address the rights of women and girls. Rarely are these dollars directed towards groups that empower women at the grassroots level. The situation is worse in many parts of the world where it is immensely difficult for women’s groups to access any resources, whether from international or local donors.
There has been a steady proliferation of women’s “funds” emerging at all levels over the last 20 years; currently 45 global, regional, and national women’s funds operate in 174 countries. Global Fund has been a leader in spurring that growth, providing $7 million in seed funding and technical support to 34 funds, located in 24 countries.
GFW is helping to shape a world in which significant community and global resources are mobilized and directed at promoting gender equality and social change. We believe in putting money directly into the hands of women’s groups working for human rights and social change – action that will achieve justice and transform systems, institutions and cultures that are at the root of injustice.
Recognizing this reality and the unequal dynamic that exists between the “global north” and “global south”, GFW has been both seeding and supporting indigenous women’s funds in every continent around the globe. Since 1990, we have awarded over $5 million dollars to 21 women’s funds. Women’s funds literally sustain thousands of women’s organizations worldwide. Research on 1,000 women’s organizations by Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) found that women’s funds are the main source of income for the majority of these organizations, many of which have annual budgets of less than $5,000.
Country and region-based women’s funds are uniquely situated to mobilize resources from their regions and sustain women’s rights organizations and movements. GFW has played a key role in supporting the establishment of local women’s funds around the world, partnering and mentoring them as they grow to play leadership roles in the women’s movement in their communities. We partner closely with women’s funds to leverage support for groups that have difficulty accessing resources, such as indigenous women, rural and poor women, lesbians, young women and women with disabilities.
We respect women’s expertise and their strategies by giving them general support grants, which allow groups to determine their priorities and utilize this unrestricted funding where it is most needed, such as for operational costs, programmatic work, or urgent campaigns. General support gives groups autonomy in decision-making, independence from external agendas, space to strategize, plan, and network, and flexibility to respond to emerging needs.
The Global Fund for Women promotes Social Change Philanthropy by supporting grantees that engage in the following strategies »
- Transforming the culture of giving in society to focus on social change and to support women’s rights.
- Re-granting and re-granting techniques and skills-building trainings, including producing manuals and organizing networks.
Politics of Funding
- Increasing access to funding and understanding the effect of grants and funding strategies on movement building and women’s rights organizations.
- Strategic convenings where donors and women’s rights activists engage and coordinate efforts to advocate for mobilizing additional resources.
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