Who is talking in our name?


Maria Palomares Arenas


This year, the annual gathering of European Foundations was so special. It was the first one by Philea after the convergence of EFC and DAFNE, the first one that felt as big as pre-pandemic events, and it was in my city of Barcelona.

This conference is my fifth conference involving European Foundations, and I have to say it has been the first time I felt part of a family. The organisation I’m part of, coordinated different activities including a site visit to some of the organisations we support and a panel on intersectionality where we discussed the work we do from a decolonisation perspective, programmatically but also internally. Perhaps it’s not correct for me to say this, but they were both successful activities and I hope you can read about them in other posts.

As I mentioned, this was the first time I felt part of the community. I think this year’s panels and content were bold and brave. We talked about participatory grantmaking, doing things different to adapt our practices to new groups and people. We talked about the need of introducing anti-racist practices in our foundations, based in Europe, with a lot of responsibility on changing the status quo of the colonial relationships we are still seeing in the economic system.

We of course discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how this war is affecting Europe and democracy we are based on. The way we deal with this military aggression will influence the future of the European Union and the political scenario we will live in. It is important we create links with Ukrainian organisations resisting on the ground to the invasion, but also with Russian organisations protesting the occupation plans of their government. Dialogue and connections are more important than ever.

This is why, I was sad at the way we closed the conference with the intervention of Javier Solana, former Secretary of NATO and High Representative of Foreign and Security Policy of Europe, following the decision by the European Union to finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment. This in a way, supports the military spiral that is deepening. In my opinion, this is the contrary of what we need right now, and I want to believe this is the opinion of many foundations participating in the conference. How could we end that way? I think if this panel had been organised from a programmatic standpoint we would have seen a more aligned perspective. I would like to believe that foundations in Europe are working for Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights and we need these voices representing us.

María Palomares Arenas Cabral, Calala Women’s Fund

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the Calala Fund.

Tagged in: Philea 2022

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