Inside the Complex Financial World of Women’s Organizations

Project: South Asia Small Grants Initiative


Association for Women’s Rights In Development (AWID) has produced a series of reports on the state of fundraising and money in women’s rights organizations . The series, called Where is the Money for Women’s Rights, explores the complexities in obtaining adequate funding for organizations across the globe.

One of the striking paradoxes of this moment is that the spotlight on women and girls seems to have had relatively little impact on improving the funding situation for a large majority of women’s organizations around the world. The ‘leaves’—the individual women and girls—are receiving growing attention, without recognizing or supporting ‘the roots’ – the sustained, collective action by feminists and women’s rights activists and organizations that has been at the core of women’s rights advancements throughout history.

Goals of the research effort were to generate knowledge and analysis of the current financial situation of women’s groups as well as the overall state of fundraising. By doing so, they hope to increase the overall amount and the quality of resources available to women’s organizations. The report also talks about collaborating and strategizing together as part of the overall feminist movement. The report goes on to discuss the myriad and often complex obstacles that prevent most women’s organizations from growing both physically and financially. Of particular note is the sometimes polarizing role that Private Foundations and International NGOs play in the world of women’s organizations.

You can read the whole report, here.

The SDGs: Landmark achievment, or a step backward?

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Photo by: UN
Photo by: UN

…The objectives of Beijing were consistent with a recognition of the deeply structural nature of the inequalities experienced by women. By openly challenging austerity programmes and the impact of macroeconomic policies on women, the platform acknowledged that the neoliberal, “trade not aid” model of development was – and is – failing the majority of the world’s women. Despite the intervening impact of two global financial crises, rocketing wealth inequality, growing fundamentalisms, and a steadily worsening climate crisis, the SDGs fail even to match the Beijing agreement’s level of ambition, let alone build on it to meet our current challenges.”

The Guardian takes a look at how the Sustainable Development Goals–to be adopted this weekend in New York–measure up to previous global attempts to address a myriad of issues such as gender equality.  Read more here.

A Gendered Perspective: Reflections on the MDG and the potential of the SDG

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By: Katie Douglas, WEA Intern

katies mdg

A woman closes the door behind her and sets off into the early light of dawn. It’s the pre-monsoon season in India, and the air is thick with heat as she walks to her small kitchen garden. What began as a grant of seeds, has transformed into fertile beds of earth that are all her own. From her garden she can produce crops to both feed and financially support her family. From her garden she has been able to build alliances with other local women’s collectives around the importance of organic farming and how to improve their own self-sufficiency. From her garden her future is now one of abundance and opportunity.

This is our vision for the world because, we believe that when women thrive, communities thrive. When women are supported and resourced, they are able to lift their communities out of poverty, increase economic stability, and provide countries with sustainable practices to address and combat climate change. In light of this, the member states of the United Nation’s have been awarded a rare opportunity. As they reconstruct the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that will be adopted in September, these nations and participating NGOs have the potential for being the spark that makes the WEA vision for the world—a world where grassroots women leaders are heard, and their knowledge is honored and uplifted for the betterment of us all—a reality.

In 2000, the eight MDG were established by the UN to target global issues identified as being some of our world’s most pressing concerns. Over the past fifteen years, great strides have been made towards accomplishing these goals. The percentage of those living in extreme poverty has been reduced nearly by half, from 1.9 billion to 836 million. More girls than ever are now enrolled in schools, and gender equality in secondary schools in 36 developing nations is no longer just an aspiration, but a shining reality. Access to clean drinking water has also seen an increase for up to 90% of the global population. But while this incredible progress represents important steps toward creating global equality, the work of the MDG isn’t finished. We cannot regard this progress as a landmark triumph while millions of people—particularly women and girls—continue to face severe poverty, basic human rights insecurity and deep inequity.


In this way, the MDG have come up short in shedding light on the intersectionality of the original goals, especially with regard to gender. In the final progress report the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, noted that of all the goals, gender equality and woman’s health were the most neglected. Even with an advanced education women around the world continue to earn 24% less than men. Less than 20% of government leaders in the world are women. And women in developing nations are fourteen times as likely to die as women in developed nations. When we look at this reality, we can clearly see how issues of climate change, food security, and environmental degradation continue—these are interconnected challenges existing in an ecosystem that is our world, and one challenge cannot be addressed while ignoring another.

Come September, all countries that participated in the MDG must re-evaluate and submit new goals, which will become the SDG. Of the seventeen SDG declared so far, one goal directly focuses on women, while many others have the potential to impact gender in positive and critical ways. Goal #5, the aim of achieving gender equality and empowering all girls and women, is only one of many and yet impacts almost every other issue at stake. In fact, a 2014 study by the Copenhagen Consensus Center providing guidance on which of the drafted SDG targets were the best investments rated those aimed at gender equality among the highest. Still, many governments fail to invest in the leadership and capacity-building of women, they fail to increase resources to address violence against women or to ensure access to reproductive health care, and they fail to recognize the disproportionate financial and environmental burden women bear as food producers and providers, community caretakers, and natural resource stewards. The global success of women represents our greatest hope for a reconciled world, and this is something that must be taken seriously by the SDG and world nations.


The Millennium Development Goals gave us a glimpse of a world where change is possible. Through WEA’s vision of recognizing essential women’s rights, and building global networks of empowered female leaders, the Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to create a world where change truly is sustainable.

Further Reading

WEA is partnering with Pink51 – Shop with Purpose!



WEA is thrilled to announce our exciting new partnership with as one of their featured organizations!

What does this mean?  Well, now there’s a new way for your to support our work and vision to uplift grassroots women environmental leaders…all while getting your shopping done!

What Pink51 is: Pink51 is a for profit shopping website that promotes only women-owned and women-led businesses.  It’s the only one of its kind, AND 10% of all profits each quarter are given back to featured organizations (like WEA!) that support women and girl’s economic success.  Founded by Ann Lawrence and Marta Ferro and launched in June 2014, Pink51 believes that empowering women to succeed economically and in business will change the world for the better.

Through our purchasing power (women account for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the U.S., 85% of all consumer purchases, and 58% of total online spending), we can support women-centered initiatives, can encourage female entrepreneurship, and can convince businesses to promote women to Senior Level and board positions.

How to Shop with Purpose: Super simple.  All you have to do is sign up for a free Pink51 account here, vote for WEA, and then rest assured that each dollar you spend is helping to make an impact.

Through this partnership—and yours—we know we can continue to make a difference by supporting grassroots women and their work around the world.

How Poverty hurts the Environment

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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Source: TRF/Kayode Ogunbunmi
Source: TRF/Kayode Ogunbunmi

Despite the fact that Nigeria is a leading producer of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and is seventh in the world for largest reserves of natural gas, it is also one of the biggest users of wood and charcoal fuels for cooking purposes. Given that wood is essentially free and that kerosene and other fuels are expensive and often difficult to obtain, it is easy to see how this dependence is unlikely to change. But using firewood has its costs. Death and injury from wood fires is frequent -98,000 women die each year from their use, according to a WHO report- and its effects on the environment can be equally devastating: Habitat destruction, air pollution and poor soil quality are just some lasting effects.

However the path foreword will be anything but easy, as there are many barriers to change. The largest barrier is the overall lack of “resources and political will” to implement and enforce the existing policies and laws.

Politicians must also tackle the barriers to positive change on the ground, experts say – starting with poverty, lack of access to electricity, and crippling power deficits in urban areas.

“We have to adopt policies that will make gas affordable. If this is done, fuel wood will become more expensive, and if we protect the forests, people will not be able to freely go into them to cut down trees,” he said. “Poverty is the greatest threat to the environment.”

To read more, see the full article, here.