Supporting grass-roots feminist activism leads to lasting positive change at many levels. This is confirmed by decades of experience, evidence, and research . That’s why, Count Me In!, together with five consortia – Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action, Love Alliance, Our Voices, Our Futures, Power Up!, and Women Gaining Ground, makes a strong call to the new Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher to increase support to women’s rights organisations in the South in the coming years.

Keep the focus on women’s rights and gender equality

CMI! sent a letter to the Minister to feed into her new Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation policy emphasising that it is crucial to continue to focus on gender equality and women’s rights. The letter was signed by six feminist consortia funded by the Dutch Government.

Applauding the ministry’s “leading role in supporting women’s and feminist movements worldwide” so far, the joint statement calls on the Minister to build on that crucial work. In the letter, we recommend her to “ensure that gender equality and women’s rights is both a stand-alone theme and applied as a cross-cutting dimension in all policy areas, at all levels” and to “continue increasing investments in gender equality as a principle and funded goal.


#ShiftThePower: more, better, and direct funding to women’s rights organisations in the South

Change is created by those who face exclusion and injustice, and know what needs to change. Women-led organisations are at the front-line of such change. Yet, globally only 1% of the gender equality funding goes to women-led organisations. Of the current 20 consortia on gender equality and women’s rights funded by the Dutch government, only two are Southern-led.

The Dutch Government must increase direct support to women’s rights organisations and Southern leadership for optimal impact. Through a video message by Shereen Essof, Executive Director of CMI! member organisation JASS, to the new Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, we stressed the importance of more, better, and direct funding to southern-led women’s rights organisations.

Watch the video message here:

Roundtable with the Minister

On 9 May the Minister invited six Dutch civil society organisations including Mama Cash to a roundtable. Joyce Hamilton joined the meeting on behalf of Mama Cash and Count Me In!. There also, she urged the minister to:

“Make a permanent and long-term investment in women human rights defenders and feminist movements. Strengthen female leadership in the South. Continue the Strategic Partnerships beyond this period with permanent and exclusive space for civil society; and make gender equality a cross-cutting and independent priority of your policy.”

Representatives from different Dutch civil society organisations and the Minister after the roundtable. 

A step in the right direction

As a result of these advocacy efforts of CMI! and allies, on the 13 of May both ministers of the Foreign Office, Liesje Schreinemacher and Wopke Hoekstra announced they would adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy. In a joint letter to Parliament, they recognise the gaps in the current efforts to achieve gender equality as well as the added value of a Feminist Foreign Policy to bridge that gap. In September they will start consultations to shape the policy itself.

You can find the letter here (in Dutch)

The work does not end here. On 17 June the new Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation policy will be sent to Parliament. This is a key moment to see how much of our recommendations are being followed up in policy. We must keep engaging with the ministry at every opportunity so that they continues supporting women’s rights organisations and structurally excluded communities especially in the South. We will contribute to the shaping of their Feminist Foreign Policy in a way that consistently and coherently across all policy areas advances gender equality and women’s rights.