We advance the rights of women and girls worldwide by increasing the resources for and investing in women-led organizations and women’s collective leadership for change.
We envision a just, equitable and sustainable world in which women and girls have resources, voice, choice and opportunities to realize their human rights.
History of the Global Fund
The Global Fund for Women was founded in Palo Alto California by three bold women: Anne Firth Murray, Founding President, Frances Kissling, and Laura Lederer. The three were convinced that women’s human rights and dignity were essential to the advancement of global agendas for social, economic, and political change. Frustrated by traditional philanthropy’s lack of interest in funding women’s groups and human rights, they forged a new path, founding an organization that would fund women-led organizations directly.
Founding member Anne Firth Murray served as the first Global Fund for Women CEO—from 1986 to 1996. In addition to being one of the first donors (along with the 3 other co-founders) Anne established the Global Fund as a leader in funding for and global expertise in women’s rights. The first grants in 1988 totaled $30,000; by 1996 grantmaking had grown to $1.2 million.
Kavita Ramdas became CEO in 1996, serving until 2010. Under Kavita’s leadership the Global Fund experienced unprecedented growth. Grantmaking surpassed $8 million. Kavita led the ‘Invest in Women’ campaign that resulted in $10 million to initiate the Global Fund for Women’s endowment fund, and established the $10 million ground-breaking ‘Now or Never Fund’ in response to the crisis created by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the detrimental effects of rising extremisms and economic globalization. In addition, the Global Fund expanded its work in Sub-Saharan Africa and established its Middle East and North Africa portfolio.
Musimbi Kanyoro joined the organization in 2011 – a pivotal time as we embark on a new and bold phase of strategic philanthropy to support women’s leadership and women-led solutions to the most challenging issues facing our world today.
Though the Global Fund has changed with the times, the philosophy of our founding members has remained: that women are the best agents of change in their communities and giving them the resources to do their work can change the world.