Africa: More Money Needed for Feminist Leaders to Drive Global Change

Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are being supported by the United Nations to begin small businesses such as tailoring (file photo).
26 May 2022

Cape Town — Feminist movements and organizations around the world are the key drivers of social change, yet they are under-financed, under-valued, and grossly under-appreciated.

As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world, countries, societies, and communities reshaped, political and social systems changed, and new social norms emerged. As a result, the pandemic exposed and revealed existing gender inequalities and injustice across the world and showed that women, girls, disabled and non-binary people continued to face systemic oppression. Their voices are still marginalized and silenced, resulting in compounding experiences of discrimination, racism, ableism, and classism.

These challenges can be daunting but feminist movements have the power to move us to a more just world.

Shake the Table is a non-profit bridging philanthropy and social justice movements which together with advisory firm, The Bridgespan Group joined forces to examine how to better connect global philanthropy with feminist movements in their report Lighting the Way: A Report for Philanthropy on the Power and Promise of Feminist Movements. The feminist groups called on the philanthropic community to invest an additional U.S.$6 billion by 2026 to "hold ground against the anti-gender movement and gain traction in shifting power."

And in order to achieve the goal of gender equality and women's rights, funding is crucial.

The report highlights the potential of feminist movements with real-world success stories, highlighting feminist movements in Argentina, Ireland, and Mexico that realized crucial gains in reproductive rights; domestic workers in Mali, Mexico, and the U.S. who secured better wages and working conditions, including curbing sexual violence; and feminists in Nigeria who organized intense protests to bring an end to an abusive special police squad, among others.

But the movements have received "minimal" support from philanthropists, it added. The report also shows that feminist movements have achieved their successes with minimal philanthropic support. In 2017 women's rights groups received less than 1% of total foundation giving and about 1% of gender-focused international aid in 2018.

According to The Guardian, a growing body of evidence proved that feminist movements are driving gender equality, and increasingly donors agree. However, we often see governments' bold statements fizzling into inaction and only tiny pots of money trickling down for feminist groups.

The report defined feminist movements as "organisations, leaders, and networks working together to change power structures that reinforce gender and other inequalities." The report said that such work tends to take "an intersectional approach," challenging "the compounding factors of discrimination" related to race, religion, caste, and class, among others.

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