Global Fund for Women staff meet with MENA region grantees on a site visit

Roots Lab

The Roots Lab is a new pilot program that seeks to test how best to incubate social change driven by young women activists. FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, Global Fund for Women, Oxfam, and the Young Foundation have joined together to adapt a potentially game-changing approach – a social innovation laboratory – to advance young women’s rights, leadership, and collective action.

The Roots Lab is currently being collaboratively designed, and is seeking funding. Implementation is contingent on locating resources for this pilot project.

The project responds to the fact that deep-rooted gender inequality prevents millions of young women from making choices about and taking control of their own lives. Yet not enough money or resources go to young women directly to help them address, innovate around, and combat these challenges. 

We believe young women activists are best placed to imagine and develop high-impact solutions in their communities, but they often lack the opportunity and capacity to do so. Young women often lack the connections across sectors, financial resources, professional skills, networks, and profile necessary to develop their ideas, scale their projects, and access mentoring and coaching support.

Young grantee partners in the Middle EastThrough the Roots Lab, we seek to equip young women who are most impacted by social issues to see themselves as social innovators, and to catalyze their innovations. The four partners have committed to developing a two-year pilot program tested in three countries in the Global South and in the United Kingdom in order to trial a new model for achieving social change driven by young women activists. The model will include structured support for young women to develop and test social innovations, including tailored skills-building, and individual mentoring and peer-to-peer networks. We will also create links with existing women’s rights groups to ensure that the participants are learning from past and current practices as they imagine new solutions that will fit the future.

The Roots Lab process will support young women (in teams and individually) to link with relevant stakeholders including activists, women’s human rights organizations, technical specialists, private sector companies, mentors, researchers, and potential funders, allowing them to design and prototype their initiatives, rigorously test and adapt approaches, and to scale them for maximum impact.

For inquiries related to the Roots Lab, please contact Emily Brown, Gender and Governance Advisor at Oxfam.

Photos by Bowerbird Photography.