Financing Gender Equality: Report of a Breakfast Meeting Held March 22, 2016

The landscape for financing gender equality work is shifting beneath stakeholders’ feet, a breakfast meeting held during CSW60 revealed: trends are raising concerns about the utility of existing funding models, changes in donor priorities and conditionalities, and ownership of the gender justice agenda. In response, women’s rights and gender justice organizations should recognize that donor and public support for their work remains strong and that new avenues of support and funding models are opening up, requiring of them improved flexibility and coordination.

Among suggestions coming out of the meeting were an annual high-level commission on financing gender equality to coincide with future CSWs; a demand that funders ensure support for civil society organizations (CSOs) in fragile security situations; efforts by international NGOs to leave programme design, implementation and control to women’s rights and gender justice organizations; and agreement that the field should not accept that it had entered a ‘post-ODA (Official Development Assistance)’ era and that advocating for OECD countries to fulfill their commitments should therefore continue.

Click here for a report of the meeting, including a list of participants.

The March 22 meeting, jointly organized by MenEngage Alliance, AWID and Rutgers and hosted by the Netherlands’ Mission to the UN, drew 24 participants from organizations around the world, including women’s rights and gender justice organizations, and donors.

Describing the current financing landscape, participants noted that new funding actors and financing models had emerged in recent years, bringing with them new emphasis on reporting mechanisms and a shift in funding control to INGOs serving as intermediaries between donors and grassroots organizations.

Other trends include a reduction in funding for long-term gender-transformative work and core funding, and a recent focus on funding projects addressing violence against women or women’s economic empowerment, “which gives little space to women’s rights and gender justice organizations working on other related topics.” And while ODA funding for gender equality work is actually increasing – contrary to common opinion – its focus is “shifting towards crises responses and domestic response to refugees, hence there are not less resources but changed priorities.”

“The quality of that money, the conditions and the best ways to access it, have to be critically assessed. This applies to ODA funding, but also other current funding sources, such as private funds and investments by the private sector. Hence there is a need to jointly focus on new and innovative models of funding,” the report notes.