Africa: to accelerate social change, approach philanthropy with a feminist lens

0

San Francisco, USA — Women’s movements are powerful, and donors who want to help solve the greatest challenges facing the world today should fund them deeply and without restrictions. Htun and Weldon’s research supports this claim, showing that globally, feminist movements have been among the key drivers of progressive social change.

The work of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) helps us understand what this looks like in practice. In 1995, they began working to strengthen women’s rights and tackle the problem of violence against women. Working in eight countries, SIHA built an informal women’s network with very little funding, most of which was project-specific.

The work that women’s movements do is vital, yet it is work that is severely underfunded. Analysis by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) shows that women’s rights organizations receive only 0.13% of official development assistance (ODA) and 0.4% of all gender-related assistance. Moreover, only 0.42% of foundation grants are allocated to women’s rights.

Once they received their first core funding grant, they had the flexibility to be responsive – and not too soon. When the Sudanese dictatorship fell in 2019, SIHA was ready to react. They had established trust in the country and knew how to support communities. At a time when other actors could not enter the region and it was difficult to get funding through, SIHA supported feminist activists to respond to threats, including mass sexual violence, as well as opportunities impact.

We see similar patterns around a variety of issues within the gender justice framework. In 2021, Benin liberalized its abortion law allowing termination of pregnancy for up to twelve weeks in cases where a prosecution “is likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional or moral distress. incompatible with the interests of women”. “

This is an important victory for feminist movements because it recognizes the importance of access to abortion for a wide variety of reasons. Globally, for years, feminist leaders have advocated for the International Labor Organization (ILO) to adopt a treaty recognizing the gendered nature of the world of work.

The result was ILO Convention 190, described as the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. This is a major political victory and governments that ratify the convention will need to put in place processes to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work.

The work that women’s movements do is vital, yet it is work that is severely underfunded.

Analysis by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) shows that women’s rights organizations receive only 0.13% of official development assistance (ODA) and 0.4% of all gender-related assistance. Moreover, only 0.42% of foundation grants are allocated to women’s rights.

This is the huge gap that we need a bold new school of philanthropists to fill. To fulfill the promise that feminists and social justice movements hold, we need bold innovators to change the way the world works. Bold progressive individuals should invest resources in people who can move our communities and societies towards better, more tolerant and welcoming environments. All that is needed to do this is to provide communities, especially those led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color, with a significant level of resources that allows them to be bold and creative in their work.

Recently, Shake the Table, a feminist organization that bridges the worlds of philanthropy and social justice, partnered with global philanthropic advisory firm Bridgespan, to explore how feminist movements can be supported to fight oppression. systemic and to achieve the transformative change that donors seek.

This initiative is a first – bringing together the ideas of wealthy individuals and leaders of the feminist movement. The report calls for new funding for women’s movements – asking for an investment of an additional $1.5 billion per year. In their words:

“We have set the minimum of $1.5 billion per year beyond current funding levels as a starting point, to hold our ground against the anti-gender movement and gain momentum towards a just future for us all. thousands of individual feminist leaders, organizations, and their collective movements, this investment would represent a game-changing opportunity. reproductive rights around the world, fairer and more dignified wages and salaries, working conditions and climate justice.This could advance work to reduce gender-based violence, push back against authoritarianism and protect democracy, fight against systemic abuses in communities around the world. This would recognize the transformative and collaborative work of the movements s feminists across borders. and generations. Such an investment will lead to results that we cannot yet imagine.

And yet, the results that already exist speak powerfully of the possibilities that could be further unleashed if feminist movements were boldly funded.

Feminists want to co-create a better world. A world where feminist movements thrive is a world where people from all walks of life live in peace and enjoy a full range of rights and freedoms. A world where feminist movements thrive is at the center of constituency work done and led by Black and Indigenous people and people of color.

This work cannot be done with a pittance. The work of world-making requires bold philanthropy with a feminist lens. Significant resources must be directed to historically marginalized communities – led by Black, Indigenous and people of color around the world.

Organizations working at the grassroots need to be trusted and recognized for the deep knowledge they hold of how to create change, and donors need to do what they can do best – give – and stray from the way so that the very important work of social change is accelerated.

Angelika Arutyunova is an Armenian from Uzbekistan, a feminist social justice consultant with two decades of experience across regions, movements and sectors.

Leila Hessini is Vice President of Programs at the Global Fund for Women.

Share.

Comments are closed.