The Global Fund for Women is now 25 years old. Caroline Hartnell talks to president and CEO Musimbi Kanyoro about its achievements and challenges over that period and her vision for a world in which women no longer have to fight for their rights.
In an interview for Alliance almost ten years ago, I asked Kavita Ramdas, who was then in your job, if there was a global feminist philanthropy movement that Global Fund for Women was part of, and she said, ‘Yes, but it’s still in its emerging stages.’ Has it now emerged? And do you see Global Fund as part of it?
Definitely there is a new and growing feminist philanthropy movement which has amplified women’s voices around the world. During this decade, we have seen more individual support for women and girls. We’ve also seen governments, corporations and communities stepping up their commitment, suggesting increased investment in women and girls. Increased investment has delivered more programmes and more visibility. At the same time, much more funding and political will is needed to enforce gender equality. The causes important to women are still underfunded, which is why we at Global Fund for Women support women organizing so their collective voice can be heard.
A good portion of the funding is directed towards girls’ education programmes and microfinance for small business. Both are important and require ongoing funding. However, if the systems around those kinds of programmes don’t shift significantly, millions of women and girls will fall through the cracks or be left out altogether. So it is of equal importance to create strategies supporting women and girls’ leadership and skills. The global women’s movement, which includes Global Fund for Women, promotes philanthropy that invests in systemic social change which includes the ideas of women who experience exclusion and discrimination.
If you met someone who didn’t know anything about Global Fund for Women, how would you briefly describe to them what you are, what you do and what you stand for?
Global Fund for Women is a publicly supported foundation which invests in women-led organizations advancing the human rights of women and girls. Our grants aim to increase the visibility and influence of the work of women’s rights organizations as they build a strong and connected women’s rights movement. We do this by investing more deeply in approaches and models that are working well in one place and that have the potential to be replicated and scaled in others. This includes supporting coalitions of women’s rights organizations and influencing the approaches and decision-making of governments, the private sector and other social justice movements that profoundly affect the lives of women and girls. It also includes linking and collaborating with other organizations and social networks that can help the women’s movement to extend its influence and increase its impact.
For 25 years, the premise of the Global Fund for Women has been that women are powerful catalysts for change and that strong women’s organizations and movements are crucial to making the transformations that will allow women to realize their rights and participate in creating stronger and safer societies.