Women’s funds, the pillars and webbing of women’s philanthropy, have been mobilizing resources by women and for women, as well as advocating and funding the pursuit of gender equity, since the mid-1990s. Recently, the women’s philanthropic movement (women and smart men giving to women’s rights or with a human security frame) has been more visible as Davos, the Clinton Global Initiative, The Gates Foundation annual report, among others, continue to showcase the value of “investing” in women.
While these conferences and organizations study and talk of the impact on social ills and economic indicators by investing in women, it may be of interest to study the inherent practices and values the women’s funds have learned, collaborated around, and mobilized resources towards. Thanks to 160 women’s funds working across the globe for the past three decades, individual lives have been transformed, communities uplifted and nations strengthened through the investment into women and girls. I welcome philanthropic initiatives, family foundations, giving collaboratives and others to consider adopting these elements as you start or strengthen your giving with a global or local gender ‘voice’;
- Consider strongly having the funds and their focus managed by and for women as grantmakers and grantees.
- Have giving guidelines that hold high standards for including social justice, empowerment, leadership development, access to resources and development of opportunities within the grant relationship.
- Fund movement and capacity building for institutional and organizational development by granting to women within their communities.
- Insure that advocacy for key community issues is a key part of your agenda and priorities.
- Maintain authentic leadership with staff and donors reflecting the commitment to the women’s movement.
“Women’s Funds bring networks, experience, clarity, credibility and sustainability to the grantmaking experience.” Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi
Thank you to Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, author of “Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of the Critical Role of Autonomous Women’s Funds in Strengthening Women’s Movements.”