Courageous women are organising everywhere, and they need our support

 

Susan Jessop

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With so many active and inspiring groups around the world, Mama Cash calls upon a broad community of funders to resource feminist organising.

In her 2015 poem ‘What They Did Yesterday Afternoon’, Warsan Shire writes, ‘I held an atlas in my lap / ran my fingers across the whole world / and whispered /  ‘where does it hurt?’

And the world answers, ‘everywhere’.

We live in challenging times, and it’s true: it does hurt everywhere. Yet, I also see reasons everywhere for hope. As an international women’s fund, Mama Cash is inspired by the breadth and vigour of feminist activism globally. We recognise the vision, knowledge, and expertise held by feminist groups and movements about what needs to change in their local contexts in order to secure greater freedom and justice for us all.

Each year, Mama Cash invites groups that are self-led by women, girls, and trans and intersex people to submit letters of interest to share their plans and dreams for change with us. The work they are doing, often in the face of severe repression and threats to their safety and even their lives, is awe-inspiring. It keeps us coming to work every day. Their activism matters and deserves funding, and that is why Mama Cash is committed to sharing what we are learning from and with them in the funding community.

Our team recently analysed data from these applications over a three-year period (2016-2018), and we created a short graphic report, Resourcing Feminist Activism, to share our initial findings and impressions. Here are a few of the highlights:

Feminist activism is vibrant and growing worldwide
From 2016-2018, Mama Cash received 5,470 letters of interest (LOIs) from virtually every corner of the globe, showing that feminist movements are active everywhere. We reviewed these LOIs to determine which ones met our criteria (about half) and then took a closer look at 624 of the applications that best met our funding priorities and portfolio strategies. One of the striking things we learned was that a majority of these groups that shared data about when they had formed had been founded in the last ten years: 61per cent had formed since 2010 (and 80per cent since 2005). Regardless of the difficult, and often dangerous, contexts in which they are working, feminist movements are active, and new groups are coming together all the time to meet new challenges as they arise.

The need for resourcing is great
Another compelling – though not surprising – finding is the scope of the need for funding

among feminist movements. Of the total 5,470 applications, Mama Cash received, nearly half (2,532) met our criteria as self-led groups of women, girls, and trans and intersex people using collective action to end injustice and inequality and secure greater justice and freedom for their communities. In the end, we were able to fund 78 of these requests, a little over 3 per cent. That leaves a huge amount of unfunded work that deserves and can absorb and use financial support.

No one donor alone can respond to this need. We need a broad community of funders supporting the breadth of feminist organising with generous and flexible funding. That is why Mama Cash invites and urges other funders to join us in resourcing the world-changing work of feminist activists.

There is much more to learn!
The data from our LOI window offers a peek into feminist activism globally, but I know

there is much more we can learn from the groups that approach us for funding so that we collectively can better support them. Mama Cash is working to fine-tune our data collection efforts to inform our learning and practice, and to deepen our analysis of the needs and trends of feminist movements worldwide. As a funder committed to supporting groups and movements of women, girls, and trans and intersex people as they organise and act to end inequality and injustice, we will continue to share back what we learn with other funders, as well as with those who apply for and receive funding from us.

Susan Jessop is Senior Officer for Content Development at Mama Cash.


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