The Slovak-Czech Women’s Fund (SCWF), the sole grantmaking organization supporting women’s and girls’ initiatives in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, is celebrating its first anniversary. Founded in 2004 by the Open Society Foundation Bratislava and the Open Society Fund Prague, with the cooperation of the Open Society Institute’s Network Women’s Program, its mission is to contribute to the creation of a society where women can fully enjoy their rights and are able to make decisions about their own lives. These founding groups also provided initial funding.
The inspiration behind SCWF was a meeting in 2002 with representatives of successful women’s funds from the USA, the Netherlands and Africa. The flexible and strategic support of women and the clear feminist perspective of these funds prompted OSI women’s programmes coordinators to draw up plans for a similar agency. Its bi-national character was suggested by the evident similarities of the two countries and the possibility of combining resources and exchanging good practice among Czech and Slovak women activists.
The creation of the Fund was principally motivated by the need to ensure accessible support for emerging grassroots women’s groups and the still-fragile women’s movement in both countries. In addition, the presence of a strong women’s fund can vitally contribute to the development of socially responsible philanthropy and kick-start women-oriented philanthropy.
In its first year of operation, SCWF has sought initiatives to enhance the visibility of women’s activism and counter gender stereotypes. It awarded 21 grants in both countries worth a total of US$47,560. The Fund is aware of the need to create a diversified funding base, and its future strategy will include approaching international funds and foundations, as well as building a network of individual donors and approaching corporate donors.
SCWF is also very much aware of the need for peer support. It is a member of the Women’s Funding Network and the International Network of Women’s Funds and actively participates in international discussions convened by women’s funds.