New women’s fund in Turkey

Established in January this year by the Women Entrepreneurs Association (KAGIDER), the Women’s Fund in Turkey aims to raise funds from national and international institutions, individuals and communities for women’s NGOs that operate to empower women and to achieve gender equality in Turkey.

In Turkey, the only organizations that fund NGOs are international ones and most of the country’s estimated 350 women’s NGOs have no access to these as they require expertise, and mostly knowledge of a foreign language, which they don’t have. To overcome this, KAGİDER, in discussion with the Open Society Institute (OSI), developed the idea of a women’s fund and then applied to OSI for initial funding. This was accepted and the Fund was set up in January, the first national grantmaking foundation in Turkey.[1]

Finance also came from members of the founding committee, the KAGİDER board and other KAGİDER members. So far, €100,000 has been raised. The new fund’s board members are drawn from various disciplines and sectors, many of them part of the women’s movement. This, together with the fact of its being set up under the aegis of the Women Entrepreneurs Association, which is already a prominent organization, will contribute both to its strength and to its visibility.

A Search Conference – a consultation and information-gathering exercise – was held in April 2004 when 30 of the current leading actors in the women’s movement came together to work out the Fund’s mission, principles and functioning. The first round of grants will be made this month, December. However, a small grant to support an advocacy project concerned with reform of a law affecting women’s rights in Turkey has already been made, both because of the perceived importance of the matter and because the law was already being discussed in Parliament.[2]

The range of funded activities will be as broad as possible, especially in the first years, but the Fund’s main priorities will be the empowerment of local civic initiatives involving women, provision of support to women’s NGOs that cannot easily access other resources, encouragement of cooperation among women’s NGOs, and allocation of resources to areas and institutions that are excluded by existing funding agencies.

1 Until now there have only been branches of international organizations, embassies, EU, UNDP etc.

2 This law was related to adultery (and some other issues regarding women). The law has now passed with many positive amendments and without any reference to adultery.

For further information contact Fund Director Tulug Ulgen at

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