Over the past several years, investing in women and girls as ‘smart economics’ has become a favored strategy in development and philanthropy. This has precipitated a host of campaigns and initiatives, including new private-sector involvement, dedicated to supporting women and girls. This publication presents the results of AWID’s mapping of new donors making major commitments to work with women and girls, in order to better understand this trend and its impact on women’s organizations.
Part of AWID’s initiative, Where is the Money for Women's Rights?, and building on the report, ‘Watering the leaves, starving the roots: the status of financing for women's rights organizing and gender equality,’ this report depicts the current landscape of the corporate sector and other actors that are new to supporting girls and women, and the role they currently play in shaping related funding discourse and practice. It also unpacks some of the most visible trends impacting women and girls, and offers considerations for women’s rights organisations interested in influencing and engaging with them.
This publication is the product of a collaborative research effort by AWID and Mama Cash, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Following an initial mapping in early 2013, researchers undertook 24 interviews with leading grant-makers, philanthropists, leaders of women’s rights organisations and women’s funds about new initiatives, players and spaces that have recently begun to support women and girls. In April 2013, the project convened 25 strategic thinkers in this field to exchange and strategise new forms of engagement and collaborative actions to leverage resources to advance women’s rights globally. Among the action items identified at the meeting was a mandate to further expand the mapping research, which has led to the present report.
The contents of this document include the results of mapping 170 initiatives, of which close to 150 had public data available. From this mapping, the researchers found a total of USD 14.6 billion in commitments pledged between 2005-2020 to support women and girls.
Before moving to the findings of this mapping, which focus on the new actors involved in funding women and girls, the following trends are highlighted:
- Members of the public are directly funding initiatives via crowdfunding websites, which presents opportunities to broaden the resource base and democratise philanthropy. This fundraising method is particularly effective for specific projects.
- Impact investing, which is aimed at generating positive social and environmental impacts in addition to financial returns, is predicted to grow up to USD 500 billion in assets by the end of the decade. Impact investors (companies and individuals) are increasingly partnering with development and philanthropic institutions.
- New platforms of convergence and agenda setting (e.g. World Economic Forum, Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, Clinton Global Initiative, Women Deliver Conferences, etc.) are increasingly influencing discussions about funding for women and girls.
- Women are increasingly attaining positions at the highest levels in business and the professions, becoming successful entrepreneurs, and are inheriting significant wealth. These women are increasingly becoming more involved and regarded as significant players in philanthropic and development agendas, including the advancement of women and girls.
- Young women are playing diverse leadership roles. Young female leaders are creating new spaces for activism and organising, including engagement with digital information and communication technology.
- Celebrities are increasingly involved: (Angelina Jolie, etc.) helping raising awareness about the importance of women's issues.
The need for cross-sectoral collaboration is also emphasised. Women’s rights organisations are encouraged to engage with new actors to improve and grow financial capacity; while the resource base of long-term allies is relatively static, huge funds are being mobilised and deployed by new actors. Stronger corporate sector involvement in development is likely to be a lasting trend.
Finally, the current wave of interest in women and girls presents an opportunity for women’s rights organisations to impact the agendas of these new actors. A number of suggestions are made for women’s rights organisations to assess opportunities to engage and potentially partner with new actors.
Also available to read online at: http://issuu.com/awid/docs/new_actors_final_designed For more information about AWID’s Where is the Money for Women's Rights? initiative, visit: http://awid.org/Our-Initiatives/Where-is-the-Money-for-Women-s-Rights