AC6 Action 1: Fund and support feminist and women-led organisations, funds, activists and movements
Sub Action 1 makes the ambitious goal of “doubling the global annual growth rate of funding from all sectors committed to feminist and women-led organizations, funds, groups, activists, and movements in all their diversity”. To ensure this funding goes to organisations and groups that are effective in communities, we need to listen to women directly.
Responses from the GC give a clear picture of organisations that are effective in responding to critical issues and thus furthers the need for any actions from the GEF to focus on funding at the grassroots level.
For example: a woman from ILe-Ife, Nigeria between the ages of 55 and 64 picked ‘Ending Violence, Harassment, and Abuse’ as a top issue in her country with ‘economic’ marked as a barrier to progress. She believes that grassroot organisations and movements make a difference in her community. When asked ‘What does progress for women’s human rights look like for you in 10 years?’, she said: “If grassroot (sic) NGO that are closer to the people are strengthened and we continue to work as a formidable team then in 10 years, the barrier against women’s human rights would have been dismantled.”
This highlights the appetite on the ground for real investment in grassroot organisations and movements that work closely with the people at community level. Therefore, efforts to double funding to feminist organisations should run in parallel with a reform in funding practices that finds ways to target smaller, grassroots and often ‘unofficial’ networks who can have the most impact in the communities. This is in line with findings from the OECD that show the bulk of international aid money went to international organisations based in the donor countries, rather then feminist groups who have specialist knowledge and context-specific solutions.
In another example, a woman from Arva, Estonia, between the ages of 35 and 44 cited ‘Ending Violence, Harassment, and Abuse’, ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights,’ and ‘Education and Youth Empowerment’ as the three top key issues to her. She felt that ‘political issues’ were the biggest barrier to progress in all three of these areas and cited two organisations, FemLens and Vita Tiim, as working with women in these areas. When asked ‘What does progress for women’s human rights look like for you in 10 years?,’ she commented: “Women and workers are represented in politics at all levels, and politicians are not career hunters but people who care about society.”
This woman’s response shows a need to support people in Estonia to get into politics and to have women in power that represent people like her. The number of women in the Riigikogu (Parliament) has grown in the past decade, but currently only 26% members of the Riigikogu are women according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Estonia may be considered synonymous with advancement and progress in some ways, but when it comes to gender equity from an empowerment and equality of opportunities perspective, there is still a long way to go. Funding, therefore, for groups in Estonia may choose to focus on projects that support women to get into politics to allow better representation and to diversify the voices who are leading.
In another example, a woman of African descent from Kampala, Uganda aged between 18 and 24 cited ‘Sexual, Reproductive and Parental Health’ as the only issue critical to her. She believes that we need to rethink how funding is distributed. She stated: “if effort is put into organisations that advocate for the rights of women, give them more funding because it’s one of the factors that limit them from educating communities about the rights of women.” This response shows that there is a need for funding to reach women’s groups and organisations as well as being channeled to those organisations advocating for women’s rights more broadly.
Sub action 1 of AC6 could play a critical role in advancing this but only if accountability mechanisms are built into any plans for funding to ensure it reaches those working on the ground, rather than staying in donor countries, which has previously been documented. Integrating clear action plans for external accountability should be integrated into this AC commitment.
While funding is important, it is critical that we simultaneously and collectively act against the shrinking civic space and protect movements and organisations in this space. The next section will tackle how data from the GC can help to direct resources and funding to help do this.