Mission & History


Our Vision

Every woman and girl is strong, safe, powerful, and heard. No exceptions.

Our Mission

We are a global champion for the human rights of women and girls. We use our powerful networks to find, fund, and amplify the courageous work of women who are building social movements and challenging the status quo. By shining a spotlight on critical issues, we rally communities of advocates who take action and invest money to empower women.


Global Fund for Women was founded in 1987 in Palo Alto, California, by four bold women: Anne Firth Murray, Frances Kissling, Laura Lederer, and Nita Barrow. They were convinced that women’s human rights were essential to social, economic, and political change around the world, for the benefit of us all. Frustrated by a lack of interest in funding women’s human rights, they founded an organization to fund grass-roots women-led movements directly. They knew that by trusting their grantee partners to tackle the problems they were uniquely qualified to solve, permanent change would happen. They were right.

Founding member Anne Firth Murray served as our Founding President from 1986 to 1996. Anne established Global Fund for Women as a leader in women’s rights funding and expertise.

From the start, Global Fund for Women was a public foundation, relying on the generosity of donors to support its critical work. The work caught the public’s attention. The first grants in 1988 totaled $30,000, but by 1996 grantmaking had grown to $1.2 million.

Kavita Ramdas became CEO in 1996, serving until 2010. Under Kavita’s leadership, Global Fund for Women experienced unprecedented growth, with assets increasing from $6 million to $21 million. Her powerful advocacy and thought leadership won hearts and minds, and mobilized resources and attention for women’s rights.

Musimbi Kanyoro joined the organization in 2011, serving as President and CEO until 2019. Under her leadership, Global Fund for Women celebrated a major milestone – surpassing $140 million in total grantmaking. Musimbi focused the organization’s program areas and added more comprehensive learning, monitoring, and evaluation.

In March 2014, Global Fund for Women and the International Museum of Women (IMOW) merged. The merger brought together Global Fund for Women’s powerful grantmaking and advocacy expertise with IMOW’s skills in awareness raising, online campaigns, and digital storytelling.

IMOW was founded in 1997, led by Founding President Elizabeth Colton, and evolved into an innovative online museum inspiring creativity, awareness, and action on vital global issues for women. Elizabeth joins the lineage of founders of the merged organization.

Latanya Mapp Frett became the President and CEO in July 2019.

Though Global Fund for Women has changed with the times, the philosophy of our founders has remained: trust women. Women are the best agents of change in their communities, and giving them resources and voice can change the world. Explore our case studies for only a few examples of this philosophy in practice, making a real impact.

Photo by Bowerbird Photography.