Esther Lever https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/23403/all cached version 08/02/2019 19:05:34 en The right kind of money: Part 3 on funding women's rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/part-3-funding-womens-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Mama Cash explores how funding women and girls translates (or doesn’t) into money for feminist movements. The final of this three-part series highlights how funding can reach women activists.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Normal1"><em><strong>This is Part Three of a 3-part series. See <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/mama-cash/on-funding-for-women-s-rights-more-money-less-access">Part One </a>and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/title-article-2-more-money-less-access-quality-collaborations-for-w">Part Two</a>.&nbsp;</strong></em></p><p class="Normal1"><strong><em><a href="http://www.mamacash.org/" target="_blank">Mama Cash&nbsp;</a>is an international funder supporting&nbsp;groups, organisations, networks and women’s funds&nbsp;that are led by women, girls and trans people.</em></strong></p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Aireana photo Javier Alberto Medina 17web.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Aireana photo Javier Alberto Medina 17web.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="338" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Aireana Grupo por los derechos de las lesbianas is the first lesbian-feminst group in in Paraguay. Credit: Javier Alberto Medina</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">The bureaucratisation of funding has had significant implications on the quality of funding. Here we must ask who gets access to funding and what is counted as being important or valuable. Funding is more and more tied to the outcomes funders want to see, meaning that groups sometimes need to shift or report on their activities in such a way to meet the objectives of donors rather than being led by their own agendas. For example, what are the implications of weighing more heavily internal financial and reporting systems over understanding to what extent work is rooted in the priorities set and led by women’s, girls’ and trans* people? We saw how this shift impacted the results of the Dutch <a href="http://www.flowprogramme.nl/Public/HomePage.aspx">FLOW2 fund</a>,<strong> </strong>where women’s rights organisations, networks and funds initially did not receive funding for their work and many did not even pass the threshold criteria. &nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">Donors need to shift away from the default of who receives funding: those who they are familiar with, often larger organisations in donor countries or in a country they know well who can deliver familiar formats of results. Rethinking criteria to ensure that<a href="http://www.justicefunders.org/Choir-Book"> transformative</a> social change is prioritised, in addition to technical requirements, may be one way forward. From this perspective, it is imperative to challenge assumptions that funding will reach women’s rights organisations through general civil society organisations, and for us to demonstrate why it matters to directly support a range of feminist organising—from small or informal organising to large or formal organisations led by women, girls and trans* people.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>Funding that trickles down: whose priorities lead?</strong></h3> <p class="Normal1"><a href="http://globalphilanthropyproject.org/2016/07/03/the-road-to-successful-partnerships/">Research</a> commissioned in 2016 by the Global Philanthropy Project sought to “identify and discuss government funding case studies that yield good practices, lessons learned and opportunities for funding LGBTI+ groups and movements in the Global South and East.” The report gives concrete examples of partnership models where “governments work with intermediaries to fund and support LGBTI+ groups on the ground” — pulling out lessons on what works and does not work to advance LGBTI+ movement agendas. Its key lesson is that to do this work well, for governments the challenge "does not lie in selecting exactly the right model, but rather in <em>ensuring that key elements</em> <em>are in place</em> <em>in the partnership</em> that promote effective collaboration grounded in trust, transparency and shared decision-making.”&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">One hurdle within the context of European government funding, particularly the Dutch context, is that applicants are asked to invest significant amounts of energy into accessing resources without any certainty of success.&nbsp; Professionalisation is required – but not funded: elaborate applications including complex theories of change are prioritised, including significant work to systematise internal processes in order to meet threshold requirements, and usually requiring experts and consultants to support the conceptualising and proposal writing phases. This investment seems largely invisible to funders who demand criteria be met, but do not acknowledge the high cost to applicants.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The ‘make bigger grants to fewer organisations’ trend, which severely limits who accesses funding directly, could be an opportunity for women’s funds to act as fund managers <em>as well as</em> receive funding to ensure that they reach smaller groups. Small grassroots groups are often inaccessible by larger funders (and vice versa) and are therefore at real risk of being excluded from receiving funding for their own agendas and priorities. This is the case also for larger women’s groups that may be considered too small to access large government grants and too big to access funding from foundations working on women’s rights. The emphasis on global south and priority countries may also mean women’s rights organisations in Europe and Central Asia are <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/11/how-do-you-make-a-region-visible/">excluded</a> from funding. Theo Sowa of the <a href="http://awdf.org/">African Women’s Development Fund</a> notes that bilaterals in particular want to commission out their work because they don’t have the space and capacity to do it themselves. How can we, as women’s funds, respond to this trend responsibly and be accountable? We know that large consultancy organisations have learned to cost in communications and technology into their work in a way that women’s funds and organisations have not—and are very adept at securing contracts to administer funds. As Theo Sowa shared, “we end up giving away our knowledge for very little in return.” In the context and discussions about how funding is allocated and the role of intermediaries, we need to have conversations about which intermediaries can deliver funding in a way that is supportive of feminist principles, movement agendas and priorities.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/4. 1 in 9 Campaign South Africa ne in Nine.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/4. 1 in 9 Campaign South Africa ne in Nine.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The One in Nine Campaign works with the justice system in South Africa to improve the implementation of laws related to violence against women. Credit: Mama Cash</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">This starts with shifting the narrative that says that just because feminist organising can bring about transformative change on shoestring budgets, they don’t need more or better funding. Let’s be clear: underfunded movements are not the result of a lack of strategic vision. Funders can and must do better to support efforts to communicate victories achieved, lines held as well as challenges experienced by feminist organising.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>Looking forward</strong></h3> <p class="Normal1">We owe it to our movements to ask who gets counted in and can access funding and on what terms. It is within this context that supporting and resourcing movements means that we as funders need to be more intentional: when we make the case for ‘more’ funding, it should be within a framework of ‘better’ funding. Better funding helps to link actors, build joint agendas, and contribute to the infrastructure of movements. Funding needs to take into account the fabric of what makes up a movement, at the organisational level and the collective level. It is in the collective mobilisation, the collective power of many activists and organisations that we see change happen.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">For funders, the environment we find ourselves in today calls on us to do better and ensure that the quality of funding is at the forefront of our conversations and practices— this means resourcing the infrastructure of movements, moving beyond single issue areas or organisation types, and reaching out to form and support collaborations that aim to transform and redistribute resources in more equitable ways. When we track data on where funding goes, let’s understand better who is at the helm of organisations— who sets agendas? Collaboration can provide ways to streamline information and help funders understand their role in a broader landscape. It is important to invest in the communications capacities of women’s movements to ensure that their advocacy messages and successes are heard particularly in the current global climate where the rights of many communities are under threat—shifting hearts and minds and cultural change is ongoing work, where significant backlash is a real threat to the lives and well-being of women, girls and trans* people. &nbsp;As stated on Mama Cash’s <a href="//C:\Users\n.mcintyre\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\DCGW8S8C\%D2Make%20no%20mistake,%20this%20affects%20us%20all.%20The%20rights%20of%20women%20and%20girls%20are%20under%20fire,%20but%20also%20trans%20people,%20gay%20men%20and%20lesbians,%20religious,%20ethnic%20and%20other%20minorities%20are%20increasingly%20being%20driven%20into%20a%20corner.%20We%20must%20join%20forces%20and%20support%20each%20other%D5s%20initiatives.%D3">website</a>, “Make no mistake, this affects us all. The rights of women and girls are under fire, but also trans people, gay men and lesbians, religious, ethnic and other minorities are increasingly being driven into a corner. We must join forces and support each other’s initiatives.” &nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">It is also important to keep in mind that we are talking about social change, which is not and cannot be stagnant. While we know certain levels of bureaucracy and professionalism are necessary, it can go too far – so far that movements can become static and harmed. As professionalisation is being required, the funding industry demands requiring elaborate applications that include joint or many theories of change, significant work to systematise to meet threshold requirements, usually requiring experts / consultants to support such processes. This time and resource investment seems to be invisible to funders who demand these criteria be met.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">Private philanthropy especially has a role to play in funding what governments more and more will not or cannot fund— the under-addressed, underfunded populations, areas, movements. Evidence shows that autonomous feminist organising is a key lever for lasting change: for example, <a href="https://polisci.unm.edu/common/documents/htun_apsa-article.pdf">a global study</a> concluded that, in over 40 years of data drawn from 70 countries, the presence of strong feminist movements was the single most important factor in bringing about changes in a country’s willingness to recognise and address gender-based violence. In determining that feminist movements were more important than a country’s economic growth, an increase in women’s representation in government, or the presence of a left-wing government, researchers revealed that countries with strong women’s movements operating independently of political parties were more likely to have progressive social policies, in this case, on preventing violence against women.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">There are fantastic examples of philanthropy resourcing social movements well. For example, flexible, long-term funding bolstered <a href="http://history.mamacash.nl/grantees/namibia-womens-health-network-namibia/">organising efforts of HIV positive women in Namibia to stop forced sterilisation</a>, or the IM Defenders Initiative to protect women human rights defenders in Mesoamerica (see <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/mama-cash/on-funding-for-women-s-rights-more-money-less-access">Part One</a> of this series). Emerging new funds, such as the <a href="http://www.astraeafoundation.org/what-we-do/philanthropic-advocacy/international-trans-fund">International Trans Fund</a> and <a href="http://www.astraeafoundation.org/what-we-do/philanthropic-advocacy/lgbtq-racial-justice-fund">the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund</a> are seeking to shift philanthropic practice and channel resources to underfunded movements.&nbsp;</p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/2. NWHN FS march 3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/2. NWHN FS march 3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Namibia Women’s Health Network participates in a protest against the forced sterilization of women who are HIV positive. Credit: Mama Cash</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">Given the shifting and complex environment we find ourselves in today it is pertinent to continue pushing for more and better funding for movements, including feminist movements where autonomous women’s, girls’ and trans* rights organisations are in the driver’s seat, are well-funded and seen as key partners in efforts aimed at bringing about lasting and transformative change. This work is not going to get any easier: with a Trump Administration, Brexit, closing space for civil society and physical danger facing women human rights defenders around the world, we must find stronger ways to make the case to decision makers who are not yet convinced of the value of including and directly funding women’s, girls’ and trans* people’s perspectives and solutions.&nbsp;<strong></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mama-cash/quantity-quality-funding-womens-rights">Quantity and quality: Part 1 on funding women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/collaborations-funding-womens-rights">Collaborations: Part 2 on funding women&#039;s rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy feminism 50.50 newsletter gender justice Nicky McIntyre Esther Lever Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:49:30 +0000 Nicky McIntyre and Esther Lever 108975 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Collaborations: Part 2 on funding women's rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/collaborations-funding-womens-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Normal1">Mama Cash explores how funding women and girls translates (or doesn’t) into money for feminist movements. The second of three, this article examines the new landscape of feminist collaborations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Normal1"><em><strong>This is Part Two of a 3-part series. See <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/mama-cash/on-funding-for-women-s-rights-more-money-less-access">Part One</a> and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/right-kind-of-money-part-3-on-funding-womens-rights">Part Three</a>.&nbsp;</strong></em></p><p class="Normal1"><em><strong><strong><em><a href="http://www.mamacash.org/" target="_blank">Mama Cash&nbsp;</a>is an international funder supporting&nbsp;groups, organisations, networks and women’s funds&nbsp;that are led by women, girls and trans people.</em></strong></strong></em></p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Community-of-Practice-Meeting-MR.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Community-of-Practice-Meeting-MR.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Participants in a Community of Practice meeting in Amsterdam focusing on strengthening girls’ and young women’s activism and leadership. Credit: Mama Cash</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">How does the shift towards partnership and collaboration fit into the equation of quality funding for feminist movements Collaboration happens for a variety of reasons. Some funders collaborate in recognition of the interconnectedness of problems, recognising that we need multiple perspectives and skills to tackle issues at the scale needed to bring about change. Some aim to shift power dynamics within philanthropy, by centering the people who are most affected by injustice in their decision-making and practices. Some collaborate to be able to get access to funding. Some want to have more impact and they think collaboration will contribute. Some collaborate because of shrinking staffing and, thereby, find themselves needing to distribute funding as efficiently as they can with fewer people.</p> <p class="Normal1">Funding mechanisms are shifting to encourage collaboration among organisations, funders and other stakeholders, sometimes with an assumption that this involves or creates ‘better’ funding.&nbsp; It's too soon to tell whether this new tide of collaboration among women’s groups or among donors has led to better quality funding or not. There are positive developments like increased donor coordination with commitments to doing better together, but also challenges, but this has come with a heavy emphasis on bureaucracy in accessing, for example, European government funding. This section reflects on what’s working well.<strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <h3><strong>What’s working?</strong></h3> <p class="Normal1">We see examples of feminist organisations working well together where funders have needed to catch up. For example, the<a href="http://www.justassociates.org/en/ally/mesoamerican-women-human-rights-defenders-initiative-im-defensoras"> Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IM Defensoras)</a> organised themselves in 2010 across hundreds of organisations into an effective coalition to support and advance the rights and well-being of women human rights defenders (WHRDS) in Mesoamerica, provide shelter and rapid response funding to ensure the safety of WHRDs, create a register of violations against WHRDs, conduct lobby and advocacy with data from the register with various multilateral bodies, and bring visibility to the attacks on WHRDs through a communications campaign. One member of the coalition was designated as the coordinating entity and received initial funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. This funding was shared with other members. After initial significant funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery ended, other funders were asked to step up and keep the coalition going. They did and the coalition is still active. But instead of being able to coordinate their funding and support one coordinated proposal, the funders had to instead work individually with members of the IM Defensoras because of their respective funding priorities and limitations. What had been a relatively simple administrative process became a much more complicated and onerous one for all involved.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">Emilienne de Leon, the Executive Director of <a href="http://www.prospera-inwf.org/">Prospera</a>, the international network of women’s funds, is positive about the emerging trend of women’s funds collaborating with other feminist organisations to jointly access funding especially from government funders. She sees this as an approach to strengthen the women’s funding movement, and feminist movements overall. It moves us away from women’s funds and organisations being seen as implementers or subcontracted parties, but rather as legitimate actors in the advancement of feminist agendas—and cross-movement agenda building. In addition, women’s funds are increasingly seeking to collaborate across movements.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">For example, Mama Cash is part of a consortium that is led by a women’s fund in Central America (<a href="http://fcmujeres.org/en/">Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres</a>) and includes a Dutch NGO (<a href="http://www.bothends.org/en/">Both Ends</a>); this consortium, the <a href="http://www.mamacash.org/news/green-alliance-gender-action-selected-strategic-partner-dutch-ministry-foreign-affairs/">Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA)</a> is one of the strategic partnerships funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for five years, starting in 2016. GAGGA sets out to build linkages between women’s and environmental movements. Together, the consortium aims to unite and strengthen the capabilities of grassroots organisations and funds, and use the momentum generated by collective power to lobby and advocate for women’s right to water, food security and a clean, healthy and safe environment. Mama Cash entered into this partnership believing that by sharing learning and expertise across movements, for instance by facilitating regional meetings, this partnership will result in not only more, but also better funding.&nbsp;</p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IM Defenders (c)JASS_Honduras 20130125_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IM Defenders (c)JASS_Honduras 20130125_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters in Honduras face the police. Credit: Just Associates</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">Among private funders, the creation of Philanthropy Advancing Women’s Human Rights (<a href="http://www.pawhr.org/">PAWHR</a>) is such a promising development. It formed in 2014 as a network and community of private foundations and philanthropic advisors that “mobilises funders to share and leverage knowledge, deepen networks, and expand and drive resources […] to advance women’s human rights in the Global South and North”. PAWHR formed because participants did not have an opportunity to discuss joint challenges and strategies related to women’s human rights.&nbsp;The network seeks to have field-level analysis and insights to inform members’ own funding priorities and practices, and to share lessons learned and successes in order to influence other philanthropic spaces to fund women’s rights. PAWHR is now seeking to develop stronger and more effective information loops, where its members and women’s rights organisations know what the (resource) needs are, gaps in the funding landscape, and trends in the field. PAHWR could act as an umbrella to collect information and have women’s movements share their concerns with a collective of – rather than individual – funders so they can be more responsive.</p> <p class="Normal1">Participatory funds such as <a href="http://youngfeministfund.org/">FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund</a> and the <a href="http://www.redumbrellafund.org/">Red Umbrella Fund</a> for sex worker rights, are seizing opportunities and responding to gaps in the broader landscape—channeling resources directly to those most affected by inequalities and discrimination, as well as shifting the practice of philanthropy and grantmaking to become more inclusive and self-led. These funds are participatory in their very nature where those who are most impacted by injustice are making decisions about the strategic direction of the funds, how funding is allocated and to whom. In doing so, these funds are contributing to shifting power dynamics and are increasing the value and quality of that funding.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p class="Normal1">Another<strong> </strong>positive trend is that <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">some governments</a> are<strong> </strong>recognising the need to scale-up direct funding to civil society in the Global South. Some make it compulsory for grantees in donor countries to fund local partners. Others are reorienting funding towards national offices rather than headquarters. The Dutch Accountability Fund is one mechanism by which funding is made available, <a href="http://india.nlembassy.org/you-and-netherlands/programmes-%E2%80%93-accountability-fund.html">via embassies</a>, to directly reach civil society organisations in the Global South. These trends do not mean that feminist organisations are necessarily included or prioritised, with questions being asked about why women’s rights organisations deserve “special treatment”. More work is needed to ensure that these donors understand and value&nbsp;the unique contributions made by women’s organisations and movements.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The recently launched <a href="https://www.shedecides.eu/">She Decides – Global Fundraising Initiative</a>, initiated by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, is an encouraging sign of governments taking leadership in times of regressive political actions. With the Global Gag Rule <a href="https://www.awid.org/news-and-analysis/feminist-standpoints-global-gag-rule">reinstated and expanded</a> to include all public health funding, this poses a significant step back and new funding challenge. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs took action and quickly set up a funding initiative that can be directly supported by individuals, organizations and governments alike. &nbsp;The Dutch government put in 10 million euros to start with and has set an ambitious fundraising target aiming to address the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2017/01/30/dutch-give-10-7m-to-fund-womens-global-health-after-trump-imperils-it/#168714b6ad6c">funding gap</a> of 600 million USD left by the Global Gag Rule. Several governments have agreed to come on board with funding; funding is managed by Rutgers NL, a Dutch International NGO working on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Important to monitor will be where this funding goes—again, who has access and what are the terms for receiving funding?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">Women’s, girls’ and trans* rights groups are finding ways to collaborate to leverage activist power, unite movements and access greater funding – even as the rise of conservatism becomes more visible around the world. While many collaborations are explicit in their aim to channel new and better quality funding to women’s rights groups locally and nationally, the shape and administrative structures that collaborations often entail make for slow progress. It is too soon to tell what the overall impact of the push for collaborations will be.</p> <p class="Normal1">We also need to be explicit about power in partnerships. <a href="http://globalphilanthropyproject.org/2016/07/03/the-road-to-successful-partnerships/">Research</a> commissioned by the Global Philanthropy Project emphasised that partnerships require a process where “power dynamics are transparent and equal, and where [civil society organisations] can not only co-design project design and implementation, but also overarching funding policy and strategy.” Without this in place, the trend for collaboration can easily reproduce existing models where agenda setting and decision-making is centered with funders in the Global North, excluding organisations in the Global South and East.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mama-cash/quantity-quality-funding-womens-rights">Quantity and quality: Part 1 on funding women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/part-3-funding-womens-rights">The right kind of money: Part 3 on funding women&#039;s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter Nicky McIntyre Esther Lever Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:48:20 +0000 Nicky McIntyre and Esther Lever 108883 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Quantity and quality: Part 1 on funding women’s rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mama-cash/quantity-quality-funding-womens-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The first international women’s fund explores how funding women and girls translates (or doesn’t) into money for feminist movements. Part 1 of 3, this article defines quality in funding.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Normal1"><em><strong>This is Part One of a 3-part series. See <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/title-article-2-more-money-less-access-quality-collaborations-for-w">Part Two </a>and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/right-kind-of-money-part-3-on-funding-womens-rights">Part Three.&nbsp;</a></strong></em></p><p class="Normal1"><strong><em><a href="http://www.mamacash.org/" target="_blank">Mama Cash&nbsp;</a>is an international funder supporting&nbsp;groups, organisations, networks and women’s funds&nbsp;that are led by women, girls and trans people.</em></strong></p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Red-Flag-Women&#039;s-Movement-Sri-Lanka.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Red Flag Women&#039;s Movement, Sri Lanka. Credit: Mama Cash"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Red-Flag-Women&#039;s-Movement-Sri-Lanka.jpg" alt="" title="Red Flag Women&#039;s Movement, Sri Lanka. Credit: Mama Cash" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Red Flag Women’s Movement, Sri Lanka. Credit: Mama Cash</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">Never has there been more awareness or consensus in the international funding community about the importance of including women and girls in efforts to bring about lasting change. Various <a href="https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/New%20Actors%20FInal%20Designed.pdf">initiatives</a> focused on women and girls have been launched in the past several years, including from governments and foundations (corporate as well as private).</p> <p class="Normal1">Central to this consensus is an increasing emphasis on partnership—among donors themselves, but also with regards to their grantees: asking for organisations to work together as a pre-condition to be eligible to access funding. What does partnership—often experienced as collaborative work—mean in terms of the quality of funding available to women’s, girls and trans* rights movements? How are funders supporting movement agendas, and how do we make sure that we as funders don’t get in the way, but instead resource and support movements?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">Here quality funding refers to resources that are flexible and supportive of feminist agendas, moving from project support to core, operating support that can cover the priorities set by feminist groups. Further, quality funding is about more than the types of grants or their duration. It also means critically examining who can access this funding and who can’t—and why; who makes decisions based on what assumptions and criteria; what thresholds are put into place that are exclusionary; and what is counted as meaningful impact.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">It is with this definition in mind that this short series explores<strong> </strong>the quality of funding for women’s, girls’ and trans* rights organisations currently and whether the demand of donors that women’s organisations formally collaborate has been backed with better quality funding, as well as how the trend towards more donor collaboration has affected the quality of funding more broadly. </p><p class="Normal1">The recent election of Donald Trump in the United States, on top of Brexit, and in advance of multiple European elections represent a trend towards nationalism, nativism and populism which are already resulting, or will likely result, in a targeting of feminist and queer organising, a closing of the space for civil society, increasing Islamophobia, and an increase in state-sponsored rhetoric about traditional values and heteronormativity. It prescribes and attempts to enforce traditional patriarchal values, heteronormativity, and national identity. This puts those advancing women’s rights, gender justice, the rights of LGBTQI people, racial justice, the rights of religious and ethnic groups, and others at particular risk—they are on the frontlines and will need even more support. It also means that some of the (especially) government funding that was going to these strategies and populations in the past may be diverted to other priorities.&nbsp; This is critical for us to address as funders, individually and collectively, as we will need to step up and support – with financial and non-financial resources— organizing led by these communities around the world.</p> <h3><strong>The state of funding for women’s rights </strong></h3> <p class="Normal1"><a href="http://www.mamacash.org/">Mama Cash</a> is located in the women’s funding movement as well as the funder community. As a women’s fund we both raise money and give it away in grants. Mama Cash recognises that how we fund, and where we allocate resources as funders, is inherently political. Separate from fundraising for our own work, we seek to shift peer donors’ practice to be more transformative in their giving. As we navigate the funding landscape in our dual role as funder and grantee, we recognise that more funding does not necessarily equate to better funding, and that without the latter, the former may not further feminist movement agendas. What are the trends in the quality of money available for feminist organising?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The major and oft-quoted report by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), <a href="https://www.awid.org/publications/2011-awid-global-survey-where-money-womens-rights-preliminary-research-results"><em>Where is the Money?</em></a> revealed that women’s rights groups are chronically underfunded, with average budgets globally around 20,000 USD. The research showed that the large majority of women’s organisations remain small not by choice, but because they have difficulty accessing resources that would allow them to implement their own programmatic visions and plans. Emily Esplen, at the time Team Leader - Gender Equality and Women's Rights at the OECD's Development Co-operation Directorate, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">found</a> that just 8% of gender focused aid goes directly to civil society in the Global South—this excludes funding via Northern intermediaries or organisations that subcontract to ‘local partners’. Importantly, in November 2016, the <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dac/gender-development/">DAC GENDERNET</a> published a <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dac/gender-development/donor-support-to-southern-women-s-rights-organisations.htm">study</a> on DAC donor approaches to supporting women’s rights organisations, which will shed further light on these trends.&nbsp; <a href="http://humanrightsfunding.org/populations/women/">Recent research</a> by the International Human Rights Funders Group shows that 21% of foundation human rights funding in 2013 focused on women and girls—with the largest percentage (approximately 35%) going to Northern America and the lowest percentage (approximately 0.7%) going to the Caribbean. This research does not show a breakdown of who accesses this funding— are these women-led organisations or generalist organisations working with or for women and girls?</p> <p class="Normal1">We need to uncover this type of data and use it to inform our discussions as and with funders. It is not just about how much money is out there, but also analysing who is getting access to it so that we can deepen our understanding of whether this funding for ‘women and girls’ is contributing to feminist agendas and transformative change or not.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>In pursuit of quality funding</strong></h3> <p class="Normal1">A simple place to start is to continue shifting the focus away from project-specific support and towards long-term flexible funding. This is not a new insight – there are <a href="http://www.tpw.org/images/files/supportive_to_the_core.pdf">articles</a> illustrating why unrestricted funding matters – but it remains a major challenge in practice. Limitations on the percentage of a project budget that can be spent on overhead costs can mean that a project barely pays for its own administration and the staff who apply for grants. So even organisations that seek to grow their capacities to mobilise resources (so that they can work toward a responsibly resourced model that will allow them to do their core work creatively and flexibly) often cannot, because there is no money available to pay for long-term sustainability.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The <a href="https://www.government.nl/topics/grant-programmes/contents/mdg-fund">Dutch MDG3 fund</a> was groundbreaking at its time in 2006 and serves as an example of strong, quality funding where women’s rights organisations, networks and funds from the Global South were able to access large amounts of funding that was flexible and responsive to their needs. Theo Sowa, Executive Director of the African Development Women’s Fund said this initiative “helped really tackle inequality and it understood the value of movement building.” Yet, this kind of funding has become increasingly rare, signaling a worrying trend in terms of the quality of funding. We have seen this occur recently with the <a href="http://www.flowprogramme.nl/Public/HomePage.aspx">Dutch FLOW2 fund</a>, whose final awards were limited to coalitions led by large INGOs, mostly in the Global North—with, before appeals, no women’s rights organisations, networks or funds from the Global South accessing this funding directly when the announcement was made in December 2015. The barriers that Flow 2 introduced in the <a href="https://www.government.nl/documents/decrees/2015/06/12/funding-leadership-and-opportunities-for-women-flow-2016-2020">application</a> and review process made it very hard for women’s organisations to succeed—raising questions about accessibility. For example, the minimum application amount increased by two million from FLOW1 to five million euros, and emphasized detailed theories of change. Around 60% of applicants <a href="http://www.ru.nl/rscr/vm/news/news/?ActLbl=ngo-funding-game&amp;ActItmIdt=1035598">did not pass the threshold criteria</a>, compared to 34% for FLOW 1. This also raises <a href="http://viceversaonline.nl/2015/2015/12/de-veranderingstheorie-van-het-ministerie-van-buitenlandse-zaken/">questions</a> about the costs of preparing applications, which may increase as formats and requirements become more complex.&nbsp; As funders, the question of access is important—how does our approach to due diligence maintain a status quo of unequal access to funding? How can we as funders aim to be more transformative versus merely transactional in our practices? The Bay Area Justice Funders Network has released a “<a href="http://www.justicefunders.org/Choir-Book">Choir Book</a>” with practical tips to address precisely these questions.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">There are a few <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">positive examples</a> in recent years, including <a href="https://amplifychange.org/">Amplify Change</a>, a new fund for reproductive health and rights advocacy predominantly for Global South organisations. Resourced initially by the Dutch and Danish governments and two private foundations, this fund was awarded to a consortium that includes two women’s funds, enabling the development of&nbsp;a mechanism influenced by women’s rights principles and leading to a more enabling (if not perfect) access for direct funding for feminist organisations.&nbsp;</p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/RED-Madre-de-Tierra-2015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/RED-Madre-de-Tierra-2015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Red Nacional de Mujeres de la Madre Tierra strengthens the capacity, advocacy, and leadership skills of women affected by destructive and exploitative impacts of industries in Bolivia on their lands. Credit: Alexandra Meleán Anzoleaga</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">Nevertheless, shifts in the economic climate, particularly as it relates to austerity measures instituted after the 2008 financial and economic implosion, are resulting in new competition for fewer resources, and impacting the quality of funding available. Funding for international development within the European context is under scrutiny, with budgets being reduced to cover shortfalls, and discourse being framed around the need to show concrete impact and results over short grant periods. Staff in government aid agencies have been reduced, meaning they have fewer people to manage relatively large sums of grant money, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">resulting</a> in a move to make fewer, but larger grants to organisations that can demonstrate having effective finance and monitoring systems in place—this directly affects the quality of funding available as it sets a high threshold for accessing these resources.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">In the Netherlands, as a result of budget cuts to the foreign aid budget, well-funded organisations, particularly Dutch INGOs, could no longer make their budget and needed to restructure and compete with women’s rights organisations for resources. This trend constitutes a worrying progression away from the quality funding that Mama Cash and our peers advocate for. Even for those of us who can access fewer, larger grants, we are restricted by region, issue-area and sometimes professional criteria in our ability to distribute it to women, girls and trans* rights groups working locally and nationally. In the face of threats and actual harm to women human rights defenders and other girls and trans* activists, their exclusion from funding for social change, community empowerment and security can be literally lethal.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">Donors thinking big: beyond gender equality funds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/collaborations-funding-womens-rights">Collaborations: Part 2 on funding women&#039;s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/part-3-funding-womens-rights">The right kind of money: Part 3 on funding women&#039;s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Voices for Change women and power gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Esther Lever Nicky McIntyre Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:47:39 +0000 Nicky McIntyre and Esther Lever 108881 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Esther Lever https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/esther-lever <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Esther Lever </div> </div> </div> <p>Esther Lever is Senior Programme Officer for Influencing at Mama Cash, an international funder supporting women’s funds that are led by women, girls and trans people.</p> Esther Lever Mon, 30 Jan 2017 15:04:23 +0000 Esther Lever 108450 at https://www.opendemocracy.net