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Generation Equality: The Dilemma of Funding the Women’s Movement

By Brenda Aromorach

 

The Women’s Movement aims at developing the capacity of women’s activism to ensure women’s power in their homes; possession of equal rights and ensure women’s rights over their bodies. The Women’s Movement enables women to collectively learn, build knowledge, deepen their understanding of the dynamics of the current extractive development models, plan and craft eco-feminist actions and strategies that responds to their needs as women so that in solidarity and with one voice they are able to fight for their rights.

Although women’s rights organisations receive funding for specific projects, 48% of the have never received core funding, that is critical for administration and 52% have never benefited from multi-year funding, which would ensure their sustainability and uninterrupted strategic implementation of their work. As a means of filling the funding gap many women’s rights organisations engage in a variety of income generation activities such as membership fees, renting office spaces, selling crafts and providing consultancy work, among others.

Some agencies earmark flexible funds for “catalytic work” on gender equality to support learning and innovation. Others nurture medium-sized women’s rights organizations over the longer-term by providing core support. Some invest in bilateral and multilateral gender equality funds to support women’s groups and grassroots activities which they can not fund directly. A handful of donors look to women’s funds as an effective way to get resources to smaller southern women’s groups. The most promising approaches use a mix of funding modalities to support partnerships with CSOs of different sizes and capabilities.

The 2008 to 2019 period saw a significant increase in resources geared towards women’s movement development in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and other African countries. Unfortunately, the amount remains a drop in the ocean of total development aid. So many donors such as:  UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women has provided US$95 million to 368 initiatives in 132 countries and has been an important source of support for women’s rights work, TradeMark East Africa has funded women’s right organizations to promote cross border trade and reduce violence against women.

There are critical issues to be considered to ensure increased funding for women’s movement development and promotion in East Africa and Africa at large.  As the world commemorates the 26th anniversary of the Beijing Conference, it is critical to ensure sufficient and diverse resources to design, implement, monitor and evaluate relevant public policies and to support civil society organizations, particularly feminist and women’s rights organizations, as key champions working on the ground and at all crucial levels.

There is also need for the diversification of resources to support women’s rights and gender justice from governments, domestic resources, overseas development aid and other forms of governmental and intergovernmental financing. This will help to build collective responsibility for resource mobilisation and ensure sufficient resources to support women’s rights organising.

Resources given to support women’s rights organisations, in all their diversity, need to be flexible, responsive, and long term. They needs to include support for core work, capacity building, leadership development, and movement building. It is important to recognise the diverse forms of women’s rights organising and the inequality of access to resources that exist given the intersecting oppressions that women face.

Pledges made at the Generation Equality Forum in 2021 promise a world where resources will be made available to different types of organisations and women’s rights groups and people working for gender justice, so that regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, class, race, ability, marital status, health status, nationality, refugee status, among other categories. In all their diversity, all women’s groups should benefit from access to resources in the conditions they need to strengthen their capacity to advocate for their rights.

Resources should be made available to support feminist and women’s rights organizations in all countries, in all regions of the world and recognise the inequalities amongst them. The only way to make transformatory change for women and girls around the world and to achieve gender justice in the long run, strong organisations and movements are needed as key drivers and defenders of these agendas everywhere. Current global challenges need to be tackled in every country, so that the gains achieved are not lost, but can be sustained and advanced. Through international solidarity women can support each other in their struggle to protect, defend and advance women’s rights and gender justice worldwide.

 

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