Impact 2015

Annual Report 2015


Equality. This word, and the idea that women deserve equal rights and opportunities everywhere around the world, guides us in everything we do. In EV=RYWHERE, our annual report for Fiscal Year 2015, you’ll learn about our impact in 2015 and hear stories from courageous women fighting for equality. We believe in a world where women are equals. Will you join us?

Explore the report:

Equals, everywhere

A letter from Global Fund for Women CEO Musimbi Kanyoro and Board President Sharon Bhagwan Rolls

Women have the right to be equal, everywhere.

Embracing equality now is more important than ever before. In Fiscal Year 2015, we saw rising violence against women from extremists. We saw growing numbers of refugees and displaced peoples in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Latin America, with refugee women facing especially acute threats to their rights. We saw attacks on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. And we witnessed one of the deadliest earthquakes on record in Nepal, which caused thousands of deaths and left women and girls particularly vulnerable. Global Fund for Women was at the forefront of responding to all of these challenges.

Yet at the same time, 2015 marked a global groundswell of hope for gender equality. We were there in September 2015 when world leaders met at the United Nations to commit to the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. We are proud that Goal 5 commits the world to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030.

This is the time to accelerate the pace for change. We’re driven by the courage of our partners and the generosity of our donors. We know that courage plus support equals impact for women and girls everywhere.

In this annual report, you will learn more about Global Fund for Women’s work as a champion for gender equality. Our approach continues to be supporting women’s movements and trusting women to know how best to use resources. But we also know that solutions to gender justice must come from including men as well as women, and in 2015 we laid the way for important new efforts to engage with men for gender equality.

We are proud of the impact we made in 2015, including how the courageous movements we fund supported nearly 800,000 individuals and contributed to 17 new laws protecting women’s rights.

You can also learn about our bold new strategic plan to accelerate progress towards equality. It centers around one promise: to get money and attention to where it will make the biggest difference in the fight for gender equality. This is our roadmap for the future as we work for a world where we are all equals, everywhere.

Will you join us?

Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO, Kenya
Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Chair of the Board of Directors, Fiji


Global Fund for Women made $6,958,217 in grants to 495 organizations in Fiscal Year 2015. Our work benefitted 774,434 individuals. We made 182 grants to groups increasing women’s political and economic empowerment, 167 grants to confront gender-based violence, and 85 grants to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

These grants were made during a dynamic and challenging year for women’s movements around the world. Conservative forces and rising fundamentalism provoked increasing set-backs to women’s equality and organizing. The rise of ISIS dominated the news, with women bearing the brunt of violations, kidnappings, and assaults. Uprisings and political unrest in countries such as Egypt, Libya, Mexico, and Nicaragua resulted in increased levels of violence, escalating armed conflict, less political accountability, and reduced public space and rights for women.

As a result of this context, we increased grants in 2015 to confront violence and to support women’s roles as peacemakers and peacekeepers in countries including Guatemala, Egypt, and Yemen.

Our grants in 2015 also responded to the fact that women’s organizations and activists were under fire in many countries, with offices and activities attacked, dismantled, and restricted. We were able to give many of these groups led by courageous women flexible funding to help them sustain their work.

In 2015, Global Fund for Women also established a dedicated Crisis Fund. We used this fund to support the work of women’s groups at the frontline of conflict in Egypt and Iraq, as well as groups in Nepal and India working to rebuild in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes.

Five regions, big impact

Regional grantmaking highlights and successes

Middle East and North Africa

48 grants totaling more than $846,000 in support of:

  • Women’s responses to political unrest and upheaval in countries facing political transitions or armed conflicts in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Lebanon
  • Efforts to withstand government restrictions on civil and political rights and attacks from conservative and extremist groups
  • Gender-based violence awareness, advocacy, and services in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel
  • Strengthening movements and laws for LGBTQI rights in Turkey, Israel, and Lebanon
  • Strengthening women’s civic and political empowerment in Egypt

Asia and the Pacific

141 grants totaling more than $2.3 million in support of:

  • Work to address sexual violence, fundamentalism, early marriage, trafficking, workers’ rights, access to livelihoods, and build women’s political leadership
  • The combined efforts of a group of women’s organizations working to end human trafficking and forced migration
  • Crisis response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake
  • Women’s political leadership in countries undergoing political transitions, such as Burma, Nepal, and Fiji
  • Women’s leadership in India, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines especially among marginalized groups
  • Two major meetings between activists and thought leaders in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal

As a partner in AmplifyChange, we also helped to influence funding for women’s rights groups in South Asia advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Europe and Central Asia

57 grants totaling more than $940,000 in support of:

  • Strengthening self-led activism and organizing
  • Advancing the rights of marginalized populations such as women with disabilities, Roma women, trans* persons, young women, sex workers, and LGBTQI women
  • Groups working to end violence against women by combatting religious fundamentalisms in Kyrgyzstan and addressing sexual violence in post-conflict settings in Armenia
  • Groups working to confront homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia
  • Efforts to protect and realize reproductive rights
  • Sustaining the activism of women human rights defenders in the face of increasing persecution

Latin America and the Caribbean

133 grants totaling more than $1.1 million in support of:

  • Women’s human rights defenders, many of whom were facing increasing threats and operating in extremely violent and serious conditions
  • The Catholics for a Free Choice Network, as a balance against religious fundamentalism, especially in its opposition to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Key women’s organizations working to advance abortion rights and sexual rights in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, where conservatism limits those rights
  • Women in the Andean region—especially Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru—to assure the participation of women at the negotiating tables during the revision of laws and policies
  • Girls’ rights, especially in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, through movements to end sexual violence and early marriage

Sub-Saharan Africa

116 grants totaling more than $1.5 million in support of:

  • The Women’s Platform of the Peace, Security & Cooperation Framework of the Great Lakes Region to deepen women’s participation in peace-building in Central Africa, in partnership with the UN Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region. In May 2015, we convened the grantees at a pivotal meeting in eastern Congo
  • Advancing sexual and reproductive health, including addressing early marriage, female genital mutilation, teen pregnancy, and maternal mortality (both through direct grantmaking and our influencing role as a partner of AmplifyChange)
  • The Women’s Fund in Tanzania, which enables women’s priorities to be included in the country’s new Constitution
  • A meeting in Senegal on strengthening the women’s movement in Francophone Africa
  • A national gathering of grantees in Burkina Faso
  • The culmination of a four-year initiative to strengthen rural women’s rights and agricultural production
Making advocacy part of the equation

This year, we built upon our decision to make advocacy and awareness-raising a core part of our work for gender equality.

We amplify the voices of women fighting for equality and shine a spotlight on critical issues, getting attention and support where it’s most needed.

Our campaigns in 2015 lifted up the voices of women around the world, inspiring supporters and new audiences. Through IGNITE: Women Fueling Science and Technology, we brought attention to technology as a critical human rights issue (more below). Our call to imagine the future of women’s human rights came to life through our online project Imagining Equality, launched in July 2014. Both projects used multi-media content, the arts, and creativity to inspire and engage new audiences about critical equality issues everywhere.

This year, we not only raised awareness but rallied action. More than 23,000 people from 182 countries signed onto our petition to end the gender technology gap with UN Women. We rallied more than 12,000 through a joint petition with CHANGE (the Center for Health and Global Equity). The petition—delivered to the White House in August 2014—called on President Obama to clarify the Helms amendment, which has significantly limited women’s access to critical post-rape health care in conflict zones around the world.

When issues and events affecting women’s movements made headlines, we acted quickly to ensure women’s voices were included in the conversation—from the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, to the presidential election in Nigeria, to the refugee crisis in Syria and the Middle East.

Through all of this, we reached new audiences, securing 1,200 media hits and surpassing 300,000 followers on our social media channels.

Immediately following the devastating April 2015 Nepal earthquake that killed over 8,000 people and leveled entire villages, Global Fund for Women’s staff and advisors reached out to over 30 Nepalese women’s groups. We wanted to support their relief efforts targeting the most vulnerable, including pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, and the elderly. We also wanted to ensure that women’s rights and safety were not compromised (unfortunately a frequent occurrence in crisis settings) and that women were positioned to be leaders in post-disaster recovery.

In the aftermath of the quake, we raised over $700,000 for women’s groups serving 30 critically-affected districts, reaching over 23,000 people. Immediately after the earthquake, we provided $150,000 to 17 women’s groups who led emergency relief efforts, providing temporary shelter and safe spaces. Now, our focus is on long-term recovery and reconstruction, and we are supporting 18 grantee partners in this work.

Our grantee partners are led by remarkable women who often know firsthand the plight of the women they support. Lily Thapa, Founder of Women for Human Rights, was widowed at 29 when her husband was killed in the Gulf War. Lily was left to raise three sons on her own. This experience inspired her to create Women for Human Rights to support single women. Lily explained, “First I focused on widows. Now we don’t want to identify ourselves that way. Whether widowed, single, divorced, we just call ourselves single women. Now we are more than 100,000 women in many villages. We realized that working as a group you have more of a voice.”

Following the earthquakes, Lily estimates that 50,000 single women from six districts lost their homes. Lily’s group organized temporary shelters for these women, and distributed ten trucks full of blankets, tents, mats, and food. They mobilized over 100 volunteers and youth groups to help distribute supplies. As recovery efforts continue, Lily’s organization remains committed to helping women resettle and rebuild their lives.

We know women’s movements are made stronger when activists and grantees unite to build shared community, strategy, and ideas. In November 2014, Global Fund for Women brought together 58 women activists in Lima, Peru, with a focus on advancing gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The activists discussed key regional issues, including violence, shrinking sexual health and reproductive rights, limited economic and political opportunities, and climate change. The activists shared approaches, strategies, and solutions. They built critical networks and alliances to underpin future work. Sharing in a collective workshop on merging art with activism led by Board Member Amina Doherty and social justice artist Favianna Rodriguez, participants helped create a powerful piece of original art (seen in the banner above) as well as creative posters of their own.

Name: Gözde Demirbilek
Hometown: Ankara, Turkey

#Determined to see LGBTQI rights included in Turkey’s constitution.

20-year-old Gözde is an activist for grantee Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association in Turkey—one of the strongest emerging leaders for LGBT rights in the Middle East and North Africa. It has provided support to 1,500 individuals and reached over 33,000 through its advocacy campaigns.

Name: Perla Almaden
Hometown: Mindanao, Philippines

#Determined to ensure all women are financially empowered.

Perla is a Finance Officer at Global Fund for Women grantee partner Unlad Kabayan, a strong leader in migrant rights in the Philippines which supported 400 women this year. As a survivor of domestic violence, Perla shares her story with other women and helps them achieve financial independence—often a key to escaping this violence.


Global Fund for Women’s Strategic Plan sets out ambitious goals to increase funding, visibility, and momentum for women’s human rights by 2020. It also highlights our vision for vibrant and sustainable women’s movements. Read this summary of our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

In Southeast Asia, with limited job opportunities and high costs of living, many women go abroad to work or take jobs in factories where workers’ rights are extremely limited. Though women in the region may be interested in politics, they often don’t have the confidence, resources, or training to participate.

Global Fund for Women has been working to change this through the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) fund, granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands—a three-year initiative that we completed in Fiscal Year 2015.

Through FLOW, we distributed over $3 million to 139 organizations in 26 countries strengthening the leadership skills of over 110,000 women and girls—women like Mamta Chand.

This achievement is thanks to a collaborative effort with our partners Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development and Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era.

Our FLOW grantees are creating long-lasting, sustainable change. From political and economic empowerment to peace-building and fair labor laws, the formula is clear: one woman, plus awareness about her rights, equals powerful progress toward gender equality.

As technology becomes an increasingly essential part of every aspect of human existence—from education to employment, politics to creativity—the ability to access, navigate, and shape technology is critical to women’s participation in society. A global technology revolution is taking place, and if women and girls aren’t part of it, the future for women’s rights is bleak.

Knowing this, in October 2014, Global Fund for Women launched IGNITE: Women Fueling Science & Technology, a global campaign to demand change.

The project featured inspiring leaders and innovators, including grantee partners like Society Without Violence in Armenia, the Afghan Institute of Learning, Blue Veins in Pakistan, and more. We worked with strategic partners to get even more attention for the project, including high-profile champions like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Executive Director of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani, singer/songwriter Carolyn Malachi, Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, and Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls Code Kimberly Bryant. And we drove more than 20,000 of our supporters to sign our petition created with UN Women to end the global gender technology gap, which we presented at the United Nations in March 2015.

We recognized that engaging the next generation of leaders is crucial to achieving gender equality in technology. We organized the IGNITE Global Girls Hackathon in February 2015. More than 70 girls in five cities participated—New York City; Oakland, California; Taipei; Porto Alegre, Brazil; and Trivandrum, India. During the Hackathon, girl coders worked in teams to create an innovative new website or app addressing girls’ access to safe spaces in their communities. Incredible ideas and inventions came out of the three-day hackathon. And our supporters loved it, too—our #hackgirlsrights hashtag had 52.6 million impressions on social media. Ultimately, the winning project came out of Porto Alegre, Brazil, by a group called Não Me Calo. They created a website and app that allows users to rank public businesses based on how safe they are for women.

By removing barriers to women’s and girls’ access to technology, we support opportunities for connection, education, and imagination. When women and girls can access, build, and shape technology, we will get even closer to equality.

Ten years ago, Christiana Okechukwu saw how difficult it was for girls in her community in Enugu, Nigeria to get an education. Many young people didn’t have access to basic resources such as books or even classrooms. In 2005, she started Inwelle Study and Resource Centre, now a Global Fund for Women grantee partner.

“The idea was to teach impoverished youth computer skills at the lowest cost possible, while also offering workshops on job and life skills,” says Christiana. “The computer classes were meant to demystify the computer and expose the youth to other means of livelihood. We strongly believe that denying access to learning—digitally or otherwise—is a serious abuse of girls’ rights.”

Inwelle began as a resource center, equipped with a library, computers, and reading rooms where teenage girls learn computer and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) skills. What they learn helps them earn money for themselves and their families, and can help pay for their school fees. Inwelle focuses on teaching skills that will benefit girls for the long-term and put them in a position to grow. “Girls in our community are pressured by society to remain within the confines of tradition. So they tend to gravitate toward skills such as hair dressing or sewing—skills that keep them limited and are very low-earning jobs,” says Christiana. “Now that it’s the twenty-first century, lacking computer skills means these girls and young women are being left behind while boys and men are venturing faster into the tech businesses.”

For Christiana, economic empowerment is the target, but the skills also end up improving the girls’ self-worth. “The girls will be empowered to earn reasonable incomes, which will break the poverty cycle and make them active participants in charting their future. This will also boost their self-esteem and make them confident in their abilities.”

Adapted from an interview for IGNITE: Women Fueling Science & Technology with Michaela Leslie-Rule.

Unity + purpose = change

We know that the movement for women’s rights is made exponentially stronger by partnerships. Adding major collaborations and alliances to our work helps us secure bigger wins, resources, and visibility for gender equality around the world.

We’re proud to partner with NGOs, foundations, governments, and corporations in working to achieve gender equality. Here are a few examples of our major initiatives and partnerships in Fiscal Year 2015:

Framework of Hope: The Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

FY 2015 Impact: Made a total of 46 grants to 40 organizations, totaling $737,444, to support women’s meaningful participation in peace-building and collaboration between women’s groups and across borders. Learn more.

AmplifyChange: a major fund to help advance sexual rights and health.

FY 2015 Impact: Approved 17 grants to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sub-Saharan African and South Asia, totaling nearly 5,950,000 Euro over two years. Learn more.

Seeds of Change: Rural Women Striding Forward, an initiative for women’s agriculture and leadership in Africa

FY 2015 Impact: 2015 saw the close of this four-year project, which strengthened the rights of rural women. Women who participated achieved a 30% increase in income. This year we organized gatherings in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Uganda to share the project results with 19 grantees. Learn more.

In Fiscal Year 2015, we created a strategic plan for 2015-2020 and developed a new financial plan to support sustainability and growth. We:

  • Added over $1 million to our operating reserves which helps secure our financial future, bringing our total ending net assets to $20,213,238
  • Awarded nearly $7 million in direct grants to courageous women-led organizations
  • Devoted 80% of our resources to grantmaking and advocacy activities

Our grantmaking activities include reviewing applications, vetting organizations, evaluating impact, and bringing our grantees together. Our advocacy program continues to engage, educate, and activate audiences around the world on issues of women’s and girls’ human rights.

We are a public foundation. A portion of our expenses relate to fundraising as we rely on our donors to support critical work in the fight for gender equality.

Download Financial Statements and Report of Independent Auditors for FY2015

Sharon Baghwan Rolls, Board President, Fiji Islands
Marissa Wesely, Treasurer, United States
Linda Gruber, Secretary, United States
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Nigeria*
Julie Parker Benello, United States
Roxane Divol, United States
Nurgul Djanaeva, Kyrgyzstan
Amina Doherty, Antigua & Barbuda/Nigeria
Mozn Hassan, Egypt*
Nita Ing, Taiwan
Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO, Kenya
Layli Maparyan, United States*
Blythe Masters, United Kingdom
Tabara Ndiaye, Senegal
Maria Núñez, United States/Mexico*
Jurema Werneck, Brazil

*joined the board in FY2015

In Fiscal Year 2015, we also said farewell to four long-time Global Fund for Women Board members, who transitioned off of our Board of Directors after making a large impact on the organization:

Leila Hessini, former Board Chair, Algeria/United States
Abigail Disney, United States
Hoda Elsadda, Egypt
Lydia Alpízar Durán, Costa Rica/Mexico

It all adds up

We know that lasting change happens when people join together and form movements. But what exactly is a movement, and why do movements matter? Global Fund for Women’s infographic explains.


Every woman counts: Our theory of change

We invest in women’s groups all over the globe who are working to make every woman and girl strong, safe, powerful, and heard. How do we know our approach works? We measure our efforts against specific outcomes so that we can achieve and sustain lasting impact.

Moving Towards Change: How our grantmaking and advocacy fuel gender equality

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.