The road to gender equality

Jo Andrews

It’s not just a question of giving money or making investments, it’s time for us all to examine our work through a gender lens

Long ago, in simpler times when donors roamed the philanthropy forest giving away money to causes close to their heart, often without a strategy or evaluation, the donor I worked for gave me a direction that most grantmakers dream of: ‘Put groups advocating for women’s human rights at the centre of our grantmaking – there is no limit on the budget.’

This was welcome news, as women’s rights were then the Cinderella of the rights sector. Women were, and are, the victims of appalling human rights abuses and legally sanctioned discrimination. In no country in the world have women yet reached equality with men on all measures. But human rights were traditionally defined as civil and political rights, more likely, even now, to involve male actors. Tough issues such as human trafficking, rape and violence against women were only beginning to be heard. The argument that economic and social rights should be included was novel, with some of the largest grantmakers setting their faces firmly against this as a form of mission creep which risked straying into political territory.

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Katrin Kowark