Grantmaking + Movement Building: Rewriting the Rules for Equality

In 2016, Global Fund for Women made $6,635,567 in grants to 281 organizations in 68 countries. We made 110 grants to groups increasing women’s political and economic empowerment, 99 grants to confront gender-based violence, and 61 grants to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Every grant was made with one goal in mind: to ensure every dollar made the biggest impact possible. Under challenging circumstances—including reduced funding for women’s rights organizations, coordinated conservative efforts to rollback rights, and natural disasters—winning rights and moving the needle toward equality is no small task. Many groups and movements funded by Global Fund for Women are working amidst a growing backlash and in the face of rising fundamentalisms and violence against women. They are also rallying against the rise of dictators and military intervention. Many are navigating a growing refugee crises, particularly in the Middle East.

But despite powerful opposition and constraints, our grantee partners are resilient and tenacious. Together, we have continued to make important progress for women’s human rights and to strengthen women’s movements all over the world.

Strategic Grantmaking

Global Fund for Women’s grants in 2016 focused on three impact areas. Grantmaking highlights, partnerships, and new ventures during the year included:

  • Expanding our support to Lebanese grantee partners to build the independence and agency of Syrian women and girl refugees. Our long-term goal is to empower Syrian women to self-organize and lead the conversations about their future, and to replicate this work with grantee partners in Turkey and Jordan.
  • Completing a major four-year initiative, Rural Women Striding Forward, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative supported 22 women’s groups in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Uganda, and resulted in greater food security for participating women and their families, more income as a result of new farming and agriculture techniques, and increased awareness of ecological options.
  • Continuing our support to groups in Central and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay) that are working for the decriminalization of abortion, such as Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito, and Agrupación Lésbica Rompiendo el Silencio.
  • Establishing our role as the Grants Manager for a significant women’s peace-building initiative in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda—the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework in the Great Lakes region of Africa—in partnership with the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy in the Great Lakes Region, UN Women, and alongside the Fonds pour les Femmes Congolaises.
  • With support from Johnson & Johnson, funding nine organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa that are using new technology to reduce maternal mortality, teen pregnancy, and gender-based violence.
  • Partnering with Oxfam, Young Foundation, and FRIDA to design Roots Lab, a program to encourage social change driven by young women activists.

Movement Building

Along with grantmaking, another critical strategy for achieving gender equality is supporting women’s movements. Highlights from Global Fund for Women’s movement building this year included:

  • Organizing or co-funding nine activist meetings (or “convenings”) around the globe for grantee partners and advisors, including a meeting of Iraqi and Syrian women who had escaped ISIS and other armed groups, and a meeting of activists in Europe and Central Asia.
  • Developing and piloting a movement capacity assessment tool in collaboration with grantee partners in Europe, Central Asia, and Nepal.
  • Initiating a peer-learning project with a group of grantee partners in the Philippines and Indonesia working to end gender-based violence through the support of Johnson & Johnson.
  • Through more than $94,000 in travel and event grants, supporting 15 organizations to attend the Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) Forum in Brazil, with a focus on strengthening networks and participation from Latin America, especially among Brazilian black women.
  • Bringing together 12 organizations working to prevent and address human trafficking in Asia in Bangkok, Thailand. This event marked the last meeting for this three-year initiative funded by the ING Foundation, which allowed grantees the critical opportunity to learn and share strategies in person.
  • Creating Bold Together, Global Fund for Women’s Movement Newsletter, which shares news from across the movement and our grantee partners with over 7,000 subscribers.

Women’s Funds

In addition to our issue area grantmaking, our role in supporting women’s funds remains an important strategy to bolster women’s movements. We made 42 grants totaling $2,090,267 to support 23 such funds—from Brazil and Tanzania, to Nepal and Ukraine. All of them are building vital local infrastructure and funding for women’s rights and increasing global momentum for equality. We were able to further cement our commitment to supporting women’s funds globally thanks to generous support from the ING Foundation, which is providing core support to 17 emerging and mid-level women’s funds over the next three years. We support women’s funds that provide grants to grassroots organizations, in addition to other types of support, such as peer-to-peer exchanges, training, networking, and advocacy.