The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), the first Africa-wide grantmaking organization for African women, launched a U$15 million endowment campaign, Women Changing Africa, in Johannesburg in November, the first in a series of events to be organized by AWDF around the world over the next two years. The campaign will be co-chaired by Graca Machel and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.
The launch event was attended by senior government officials and representatives from the diplomatic corps, international agencies, corporate executives, local NGOs, and partners of AWDF from within and outside Africa. African philanthropists were challenged by Graca Machel to support the campaign.
Since it began operations in October 2001, AWDF has supported over 400 women’s groups in 41 African countries with grants totalling more than US$5 million. Some of the achievements of AWDF partners include support centres for survivors of gender-based violence, a national coalition to see an anti-violence Bill through parliament in Ghana, national radio programmes on women’s rights, and a vocational training centre for former ritual slaves. The organization has also established an HIV/AIDS Fund which has funded initiatives for women working on HIV/AIDS issues and groups of women living with HIV. AWDF also hosts the Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, which has helped build and refurbish markets in Liberia.
The campaign will be a major step towards AWDF’s own sustainability and that of the numerous women’s organizations it supports. AWDF received a lead endowment gift of US$3 million from the Ford Foundation to kick off the endowment campaign. Additional grants and pledges of support have been received from other donors such as New Field Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Global Fund for Women, Mama Cash, Urgent Action Fund-Africa, the AWDF-USA Chicago Committee, and many individuals within and outside Africa.
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