From the 21st – 22nd of September Mama Cash andThe Fundo Centroamericano de Mujeres/Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM) convened the first ever ‘Community of Practices (CoP) meeting for women’s funds currently supporting and with an interest in supporting initiatives and programs led by young women and girls. The meeting which took place in Amsterdam over two days, was convened as a means of analyzing the current situation around access to financial resources, materials or other information required to strengthen activities led by young women and girls, and also as a means of identifying priorities both in strengthening the work of the women’s funds and in increasing the resources available to support young women and girls.
The meeting was attended by nine funds which included: FRIDA | The Young
Feminist Fund, The Reconstruction Women’s Fund from Serbia, HER Fund from Hong Kong, The Ukrainian Women’s Fund, Urgent Action Fund Africa, Filia from Germany, The Mongolian Women’s Fund, Mediterranean Women’s Fund, and Alquimia from Chile. As part of the process and as a means of ensuring that the voices of some young women’s groups were included in the discussions, representatives from the following young women-led organizations also attended the meeting:Katswe Sistahood from Zimbabwe, Colectiva feminista Musas del Sol, Grupo de Muheres de Xocilt, Espacio feminista de esquipulas all from Central America.
Over the course of two days the group engaged in discussions around some of the main challenges and opportunities that exist for supporting young women-led initiatives. In this clip, Rudo Chigudo a young Zimbabwean feminist activist talks about some of the challenges her organization (Katswe Sistahood) has faced in accessing and maintaining financial support for the work they do. Unsurprisingly, the key issues Rudo highlights include: the need for research and effective data needed to advocate and “make the case” for the work that they do. The other points Rudo raises include the need for core support through grants that support institutional sustainability “…donors want to fund projects” she says, “but projects do not run themselves.” Finally, Rudo articulates the need for fewer larger sized grants, which she feels, are easier to manage than several smaller size grants. I think the point here is that grants should be determined on the basis of what groups can effectively absorb because not all newly established groups are in a position to absorb larger sized grants and this was agreed by the group. Another point that kept coming up was the very clear need for increased capacity building (that is culturally relevant to the groups being supported). More than just training and awareness raising, the young women articulated a need for capacity building that allowed them to engage in more effective advocacy and lobbying work. They also expressed the need for better networking between groups (i.e. opportunities to meet and learn from groups of other young activists at regional and international levels) in order to share experiences. Another critical concern that emerged from the feedback provided by the young women participating in the meeting was the need for increased flexibility from donors particularly around impact assessment and monitoring and evaluation. They talked about the need to improve evaluation models.
I think what was most heartening about the meeting’s conclusions was that it reinforced in my mind the real value of having a fund like FRIDA where young activists have the opportunity to set their own funding priorities and in so doing are able to address some of these issues themselves. For more insight into some of our discussions please check out this link.