Integrated, Inclusive, and Intersectional: Introducing Global Fund for Women’s Updated Focus Areas

A note from Leila Hessini, VP of Programs

In this new video, Vice President of Programs Leila Hessini shares Global Fund for Women’s updated issue areas.

We are at a pivotal moment in the world’s history as women, girls, and trans individuals face new forms of violence and unprecedented attacks. And yet, history has shown us that where there is oppression and discrimination, there is also great resistance and resilience. Advocates are organizing in new and innovative ways across issues, geographies, and populations. Across the globe, women are leading bold efforts for social change, holding the line against rollbacks to human rights, advocating for progressive laws and policies, and working across borders to create a better world for all. As VP of Programs at Global Fund for Women, I am fortunate to hear such stories of small and big change in our work every day and to partner with women, girls, and trans people to speak their truths, disrupt the status quo, and advance social justice locally and globally.

Over recent months at Global Fund for Women, we have reflected on the urgent moment that we are in and how we can deepen our impact. Together with key grantee partners and stakeholders, we have evaluated what we do, how we support grantee partners, and with whom we partner in order to better adapt to the changing landscape for women’s human rights, show solidarity with those most impacted, and advance transformational change.

I’m excited to share with you our brief video (above) that outlines our refined thematic areas of focus, and invite you to join us in supporting and celebrating incredible people at the front lines of movement building for social change!

I also want to take a moment to dive deeper into what has led us to our refined priorities.

We know that the landscape for women’s human rights is constantly changing and evolving, and that we need to adapt our strategies in order to best support women’s, girls’, and trans people’s needs around the world. To better understand the changing dynamics over the last year, we engaged in an extensive process of listening and learning together with our advisors, grantee partners, donors, and sisters in the movement.

We value the unique responses we received, and we learned a great deal about how global trends are playing out for women, girls, and trans people in different parts of the world—trends such as the targeting of women human rights defenders and LBTQI activists, an increase in attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights, increasingly dangerous and unjust working conditions, and the impact of climate change on women.

We heard an urgent call to address human rights in an integrated, inclusive, and intersectional way in light of global trends, and rising nationalism and extremism that we’re seeing across the globe. The vision that came out of this learning and engagement process is that we must deepen and diversify our partnerships, intensify support for those who face injustice, and focus our efforts where there is the most oppression and resistance. We have decided to deepen our grantmaking and partnerships in the following areas where women’s, girls’, and trans rights are most threatened: 1. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; 2. Freedom from Violence; and 3. Economic and Climate Justice.

We will deepen our commitment to supporting groups that are led by the most marginalized populations, are strategic and impactful, and are addressing systemic change. And we will support new forms of leadership and movement-building that connect the dots across issues, develop intersectional agendas, and work across silos and populations. We will continue to provide a range of grantmaking options that include core funding; travel and events grants for in-person exchanges and learning; and crises support to uplift those who most experience the impact of political, natural, and climate crises. We recognize that we are part of an ecosystem of progressive actors and will deepen our partnerships, especially with women’s funds.

At the heart of our refined approach is Global Fund for Women’s theory of change. We believe that for social transformations to have the greatest impact and be sustainable, change must occur across four key domains: increased awareness and agency, increased access to resources, services, and power, changes in norms and practices, and influencing laws and policies.

With our new thematic priorities, our grantmaking and advocacy work will be guided by Global Fund for Women’s values and rooted in our core beliefs that:

  • No one size fits all. We will tailor our work to each context and to the needs of our partners.
  • Space to come together and share learnings is key. We will provide support for convenings and deeper connections across our grantee partners and advisors.
  • We must be intersectional. And we will seek to be intersectional in all that we do, recognizing that individuals experience intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression across race, class, gender, and sexuality.
  • Strong movements require collective action. We believe in collective organizing and collaborative solutions to the challenges we face. We have developed an online tool that allows movement actors to assess the strengths, needs, and priorities of their movement, and we will incorporate this into movement-strengthening across the board.
  • Partners are key to our vision. We know that we cannot achieve individually what we can collectively and we are proud to be part of a strong ecosystem of women’s funds, donors and activists.

We know that transformational change takes time but we feel that it is on its way. Lasting, powerful change happens when movements are funded and when there’s broad-based collective action. We believe deeply in this approach to systemic, social change and that our refined priorities and deepened partnerships will take us closer to the world we want to see: where every woman, girl, and trans person is strong, safe, powerful, and heard—no exceptions.