CSW: art, science or just plain politics?

Jane Gabriel
25 February 2008

I've just come out of a session called 'The Politics of Funding and Funding Politics' hosted by the Women's Intercultural Network and the Coalition of Women from Asia and the Middle East. It started with two American speakers talking about selling ‘your product', ‘seducing the funder', grant writing tips and advice to us on telephone manners when speaking to funders. The talk was of funding being both an art and a science. The meeting ended with a woman from Somalia saying that it wasn't about either: it was about politics and that it was disheartening that American foreign policy had "come down to the woman having the right to an abortion or not, that it's far more complex, has nothing to do with proposal writing and is all about race and politics".

In between this chasm of difference there were tales of funding politics, here are just two.

An international women's organisation with a $100 million budget says they now have to deal with ambassadors rather than development workers, because of the new buzz phrase in the States ‘transformational diplomacy' now dictated by the State Department which has taken over much of what USAid used to do.

A grassroots organisation that works with immigrant communities and domestic violence was approached by a doctor who had been accused of harassing a patient; he'd offered to fund their organisation if they put his name on their board. They said they'd consider accepting his money if he would speak publicly about his previous behaviour, in line with the goal of the organisation which is to educate people against harassment and violence against women in immigrant communities. He didn't. He kept his money. They kept their integrity.



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