Sustainable, long-term power shifts cant be created alone. We work closely with other womens fundsnational and regional organizations that also make local grants to womens rights groups.
A womens fund is a philanthropic organization governed by women, whose primary purpose is to provide financial support to women-led organizations that advance the leadership and empowerment of women and girls. Womens funds develop and expand local philanthropy for womens rights and womens organizations. Womens funds are distinct from womens organizations in that their primary purpose is to mobilize resources to distribute to womens organizations and movements, rather than providing direct services or programs.
The primary role of womens funds is to raise funds and distribute them to womens organizations and movements. Womens funds also influence the broader philanthropic field to provide resources to supporting womens human rights. Because womens funds are designed specifically to mobilize resources, and because they have experience in making strategic grants and providing capacity building support to grassroots organizations, they play a critical role in ensuring the survival and growth of grassroots womens groups and movements. Womens funds aim to address the root causes of gender inequality through a combination of fundraising, grantmaking, resource mobilization, and capacity building.
Compared with other donors, womens funds are particularly well-positioned to engage with, support, and strengthen womens organizations, particularly smaller or harder-to-reach organizations working with the most marginalized populations, like widows, LBTQI groups, and indigenous women. They have strong local knowledge, long ties with womens organizations at the grassroots level, and accessible grantmaking approaches. Womens funds are willing to fund difficult or emerging issues that more mainstream donors may shy away from.
Womens funds are a strategic priority for Global Fund for Womens movement building work, for their role in resourcing and building capacity of womens organizations. Womens funds play a powerful role in strengthening movements by reaching smaller and emerging local groups; providing critical training and resources; and raising money from local donors. Supporting womens funds and partnering with them to influence the field of philanthropy expands the resources available for womens rights and strengthens connections across global and local partners.
From our earliest years, Global Fund for Women has viewed its role as both to fund emerging womens organizations and the movements they comprise, and specifically to support the strength and sustainability of other womens funds. Over our more than 30-year history, Global Fund for Women has provided critical seeding and strengthening grants totaling $8.3 million to 35 womens funds in 27 countriesin some cases providing the first grants to now thriving regional womens funds, includingSemillas in MexicoandTEWA in Nepal.
Particularly over the past decade, Global Fund for Women has contributed significantly to the development of the womens funding movement, playing an active and intentional role in financing and building the field of womens funds. In addition to providing grant support, we have worked increasingly closely with womens funds to build their capacity by providing opportunities for them to learn from Global Fund for Women and other national and regional womens funds. As part of our strategic engagement with womens funds, we have awarded grants in support of annual regional and global womens funds meetings, prioritized peer relationships with womens funds to develop complementary grant-making strategies, collaborated to identify gaps in womens organizing, and jointly addressed capacity building issues in the womens movement by co-hosting national and regional grantee convenings.
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