Opportunity for Change: 10% of OECD Funding Should Go to Women’s Funds!
Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds brings together 44 autonomous and independent women’s funds working across 177 countries, giving grants to over 5,000 groups every year, and collectively mobilizing close to $120M USD yearly for feminist movements. Prospera members come together before the Generation Equality Forum in Paris to demand that 10% of all gender-equality funding be directed to Women’s Funds directly over the next five years (2021-26), as a commitment to furthering the goals and objectives of governments, the private sector, and civil society after 26 years of the Beijing Conference.
Women’s Funds are primary funders of feminist activists, groups, organizations, and movements globally, particularly in the global South and East, and have the capacity of being flexible and pivotal to respond to the voices from the ground. They are created by, for, and with women, girls, and trans activists leading social change for justice and equality in their communities, and support all gender justice issues – from political participation and leadership, to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and economic justice and recovery during times of crises.
Twenty-six years after the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, feminist movements have learned, evolved and scaled up. There is ample research and evidence to demonstrate their impact and power. Funding them directly is a recognition of their capacity and central role in advancing and sustaining all aspects of gender equality work at local, regional and global levels. Yet, only 1% of all gender-focused aid (governments) reaches women’s organisations. Which means, 99% of gender-related international aid fails to reach those whose lives it aims and claims to transform. Further, even from this 1% of global funding reaching women’s organisations, Women’s Funds directly receive only 1% of this funding.
This is a problem. This is also an opportunity for change.
There is no denying that GEF is taking place as a global health pandemic has left the world more divided and unequal than before. As income, health, nutrition, education, and social inequalities rise, and right to life itself is questioned, the global north and south divide is wider than it has ever been in our lifetimes. As international aid increases, so are structural inequalities, directly affecting women, girls, and LGBTQI+ communities. According to the OECD, in 2020, Foreign Aid rose to an all-time high from official donors to developing countries. However, this represents a mere 1% of the total amount mobilised globally in economic stimulus measures, including loans, to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Any emergency support will prove inadequate if it continues to create silos, without rebuilding communities from a rights-based approach and putting women and girls at the center of these efforts. Economic, health, and social recovery globally requires bold action and commitment. This will be essential to keep us collectively on track for any genuine realisation of global goals, and add safety layers in a pandemic-ridden world that risks instrumentalisation of women, girls, trans communities and their labour, in the name of economic revivalism.
By allocating 10% of OECD gender-equality principal funding directly to Women’s Funds over the next five years, taking it from $54 million to a minimum of $540 million a year, steady and progressive funding can be ensured that it reaches activists and groups directly who are holding the line for rights-based, inclusive emergency responses and beyond. For the recovery and rebuilding of communities, and for a comprehensive response to tackle the root causes of gender inequality, investment in women’s funds now will yield social returns that reach much deeper and wider than any one project. It is time to act and #stoptalkingstartfunding. Join the transformation! Fund Women’s Funds.