Key organisations advocating for more and better funding

Key organisations advocating for more and better funding

Learn about the work of leading organisations who are advocating for increased funding for women’s rights organisations and movements, and read their groundbreaking reports!

AWID: Feminist Resource Mobilization

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development has a specific area of work on resourcing women’s movements and organisations.

AWID has undertaken three pioneering studies on the state of funding for women’s rights globally. The research series is called: Beyond Investing in Women and Girls: Mobilizing Resources.

Summary of Reports:
“This three-part compendium of research provides an in-depth analysis of the current funding trends and actors impacting women’s rights organizing, the financial status of women’s organizations around the world, and the collective impact of women’s rights organizations, when supported in a meaningful and strategic way, to build women’s collective power for change and advance women’s rights.

Key Findings:

  1. Women and girls are in the public eye, recognized as key agents in development, with unprecedented visibility.
  2. Vast resources are becoming available under the broad umbrella of ‘women and girls’. AWID mapped 170 related initiatives that collectively committed USD14.6 Billion.
  3. Mechanisms and sources of development financing and philanthropy are becoming increasingly diversified, but economic growth and return on investment are principle drivers for many of the “new actors” supporting women and girls, with human rights taking a backseat.
  4. Women’s organizations are key change agents: when supported strategically and over the long-term, they achieve significant impact in gender power relations and the lives of women and girls.
  5. Despite this, the current spotlight on women and girls has had relatively little impact on improving the funding situation for a large majority of women’s organizations around the world. In 2010, the median annual income of over 740 women’s organizations around the world was just USD 20,000.”


Mama Cash: Influencing Philanthropy

Mama Cash is the oldest women’s fund in the world, has a specific body of work focused on advocating for more and better funding for women’s rights. In their own words:
“Mama Cash’s role goes beyond providing financial and accompaniment support to grantees. We also encourage other donors —foundations, individuals and governments— to invest more resources in the human rights of women, girls and trans people, – and in their right to organise autonomously. We call this influencing philanthropy."

Untapped Potential: European Funding for Women and Girls

Summary of Report:
“In 2011, Mama Cash launched a research report, Untapped Potential: European Foundation Funding for Women and Girls. This report was commissioned by Mama Cash, produced by the Foundation Center and Weisblatt & associés, and conducted in cooperation with the European Foundation Centre.The research findings point both to exciting potential and to hurdles yet to be cleared. 90% of European foundations surveyed expressed interest in at least one issue related to women and girls. About one third (37%) intentionally focus at least some of their work on women and girls. Yet, in 2009, the median percentage of total grant monies actually allocated by foundations in support of women and girls was only 4.8%–of which only one fifth focused on human rights.”


The OECD: GenderNet

Gendernet is a subsidiary body of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) development assistance committee. It brings together gender equality advisors from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member agencies as well as observers (UN Women, the World Bank, regional development banks).

"GENDERNET recently initiated a review to deepen understanding of how donors are partnering with southern women’s rights organisations, and of what is working well and less well. This highlighted multiple ways in which DAC agencies are successfully funding southern women’s groups, often by partnering with specialist intermediary organisations, or nurturing medium and larger women’s rights organisations with established links to the grassroots. The effective approaches outlined in the report can be scaled up and more systematically applied across individual agencies and the DAC donor community as a whole.”

Donor support to southern women’s rights organisations: OECD findings

Summary of Report:

Members of the OECD-DAC provided USD 35.5 billion in aid to gender equality in 2014; this was an all-time high. Around 28% − nearly USD 10 billion − went to civil society organisations (CSOs).

The majority of this aid supported international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) or CSOs based in the donor country. In 2014, 8% of gender focused aid to civil society went directly to CSOs in developing countries. Little was reported as going directly to women’s rights organisations. Where resources are reaching women’s rights organisations, they are typically small-scale and short-term. Small amounts of money can stimulate learning and innovation, but they do not enable vital expansion, scale-up and strengthening of organisational and operational capacity. Reaching women’s rights organisations takes deliberate effort and an intentional approach that builds support for women’s groups into the structure of funding mechanisms.

Key Findings:

  1. Reaching women’s rights organisations takes deliberate effort and an intentional approach that builds support for women’s groups into the structure of funding mechanisms.
  1. Better monitoring is needed of how much finance reaches southern women’s rights organisations – directly and indirectly, as core and project funding – and of the quality of this support.
  1. Women’s movements require breath, depth and diversity. Donors can best fund this diversity using a mix of funding streams and mechanisms that allow partnerships with CSOs of different sizes and capabilities, working at different levels and on different issues.
  1. Investing in the infrastructure of organisations and movements is the basics of sustainability, resilience and long-term change. This requires a long-term view of partnership that builds organisational capacity through multi-year core support.
  1. Reaching the grassroots can be achieved by investing in specialist, well-anchored funding intermediaries, such as women’s funds.
  1. A proactive approach is needed to reach beyond “usual suspects”. At the country level, donors should start by identifying local champions with a specialisation in women’s rights work.
  1. Funding relationship-building, alliances and learning between women’s rights organisations, and with other social movements, is critical to strengthen collective voice, impact and sustainability. Donors can contribute by financing the co-ordination efforts required to build coalitions, investing in women’s CSO platforms and networks, and funding convenings.
  1. Politically-informed and adaptive approaches improve the effectiveness of support to women’s rights organisations.
  1. DAC donors should think big – beyond gender equality funds. The real win would be to influence large mainstream funds that can be hard for women’s rights organisations to access.
  1. DAC members can use not only financial but also non-financial means, including engaging in policy dialogue to support safe and enabling environments in which women’s rights groups are able to thrive.


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