Financial resources are essential for civil society organisations to do their work. Although women and girls have achieved a position on global political and funding agendas, this awareness and interest has not yet translated into significant flows of resources for women’s rights organisations. In practice, the focus on women and girls as drivers of economic growth and development prioritises support to individuals (through scholarships or micro-enterprise) over collective organising, and providing training, technical assistance or in-kind services, rather than putting financial resources in the hands of women and girls. Experience shows that this approach to resourcing has limited impact in contributing to long-lasting shifts in the power dynamics and structures that perpetuate gender inequality and discrimination.
A recent survey by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development of 740 women’s organisations across the world found a median annual income of just US$20,000; many organisations reported having to cut programmes or staffing due to limited funding. AWID’s research found that the large majority of women’s organisations remain small – not by choice but because they have difficulty accessing the resources to allow them to implement their programmatic visions and plans. In addition to relatively small budgets, many women’s organisations rely on project support instead of long-term flexible funding, which makes it even more difficult to set their own agendas.
Further, we see that most rights-based funding offered by bilateral or other large donors is not accessible to smaller groups. And funding often favours short-term projects, over providing the core and longer-term funding that supports the resilience needed to secure sustainable social change.
The outcomes of the most recent development finance summit in July 2015 suggest that the issue of funding for women’s rights by governments remains current and pressing, as governments seemed to retreat from commitments made in previous summits, reduce their obligations to finance the Sustainable Development Goals focusing instead on private sector contributions, and restrict even the degree to which women’s rights were factored into discussions – emphasising women’s roles in terms of increasing productivity and growth and largely ignoring the need to find resources to secure women’s economic rights.
Women’s rights organisations sorely need diversified funding bases; this also includes an exploration and understanding of newer actors interested in women and girls, as well as the potential of newer mechanisms, such as crowdfunding, to support women, girls and trans* rights work.
Outside a relatively small circle of funders, the contributions of women’s rights organisations and women’s funds remain unknown or not well understood. This makes it urgent for CMI! to clearly establish their relevance and the value women’s organisations and funds bring to the broader landscape.
The CMI! members and our partners will contribute to an improved enabling environment by advocating for sufficient funding in the donor community to advance the rights of marginalised women, girls and trans* people. CMI! will also conduct strategic lobbying and advocacy efforts within donor communities, including public, corporate and private donor networks and gatherings as well as donor spaces at the UN, OECD and bilateral agency meetings. To inform our efforts, CMI! members will work to build the evidence-base and use strategic communications to make the case for increased and more accessible funding for women’s rights organisations and movements.
CMI! members will engage in direct L&A regarding sustainable resourcing, and this work is most often conducted in what are commonly known as “donor countries” in Europe and in the US. CMI! partners, which will be located and implementing activities in countries that are a priority for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will not be directly involved in the L&A strategy related to sustainable resourcing.
Count Me In! Impact:
Spotlight advocacy – ensuring a seat at the table for feminist movements