Category: Philanthropy

NEW YORK—A dynamic team of Equality Fund staff members—representing grantmaking to policy advocacy to philanthropy to communications—have arrived in New York for the 68th Commission on the Status of Women. This annual gathering is a major moment for the world to assess and accelerate progress on global gender equality.

It comes as the Equality Fund has launched a new global campaign, #MomentToMove, to celebrate and elevate feminist movement wins across the globe. We are inviting the world to spotlight feminist wins across every issue that will shape our future—from climate to conflict to gender-based violence. And to spark conversations that can seed many more. 

CSW68 also coincides with the start of our fifth year as the Equality Fund, offering an important chance for us to share our progress and invite leaders from every sector to join us—especially now, when collaboration on gender equality has never felt more essential.

Collective crisis demands a collective response. We’ve been building for this moment.

This year’s CSW gathering arrives at a time fraught with urgency. If there is a single word to describe this moment, it’s polycrisis. Climate. Conflict. Gender-based violence. An erosion of democracy and a pushback on our rights. 

For us, it is the latest reminder that the antidote to collective crisis is a collective response. It’s collective ambition—grounded in equity and justice. 

That kind of space—and that kind of potential—is what we are facilitating at the Equality Fund. It’s about building a platform where government, investors, donors, movement leaders, funders, and innovators find ways to create new opportunities and work together. 

The result? Activists, organizations, and institutions all coming together to multiply impact in a way that would have been impossible by acting alone. By uniting different levers of change in common purpose, we can begin to propel a shift: from a world of perpetual crisis toward one ready for transformation.

It also means money and expertise from many different places and players flows together—and results in more and better funding for feminist movements and women, girls, and trans people around the world. And we’re seeing the results: movement leaders making change in their communities on issues that are a priority to them. From preventing sexual and gender-based violence, promoting sexual reproductive health and rights, to advancing climate solutions led by women, girls and trans people on the frontlines.

The Equality Fund has already committed 85 million CAD in grantmaking, of which 56 million CAD has already been disbursed. As we write, these resources are flowing to more than 800 women’s rights and feminist organizations across 90 countries.

With clear vision and values, finance and feminism can intersect and accelerate change.

This year’s CSW theme – finance and feminism – is a timely example of the collective response we need. It’s going to take unlikely partners coming together with a shared interest in a more just and sustainable world.

What does that actually look like in action? From our 100 percent gender-lens investment portfolio, the Equality Fund has been able to allocate 29 million CAD to our global grantmaking. 

Our portfolio investments are now helping to propel and strengthen key opportunities, such as the inaugural Women’s and Children Health Technology Fund, which exceeded its $90M US target in January. And early wins can inspire many others to come to the table. We were honoured to be included in CAFIID’s Gender Lens Investing Community of Practice as a case study of global innovative GLI approaches that stimulate action to accelerate growth in this space.

Another example is our Investment Advisory Council –  a living collaboration among investors, feminist activists, economists, and women’s rights advocates who help ensure that feminist perspectives are incorporated across our investment activities. 

We’re in it for the long-haul. Movement work takes time and needs sustainable support.

Even as we celebrate feminist movement wins, we know that the very nature of feminist work means there will always be pushback. Progress is never linear and movement work takes time.

We are learning what it takes to hold ground and gain ground in an increasingly polarized environment. And we are seeing wins, like the lifting of the ban on emergency contraception in Honduras, decriminalization of abortion rights in Mexico, and striking down LGBTQI+ hate speech in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Our grantmaking is intentionally intersectional. Instead of funding in siloes, we seek to power an ecosystem of feminist changemakers. Local and global. Working at all levels. 

As we pull in more capital from unlikely partners in unlikely places, we push out more capital all throughout the feminist ecosystem of change. With collaboration, we can fuel leaders at every level, along a continuum of capital.

That’s our big bet. If feminist leaders working from the ground to the global stage—established and brand new, registered and unregistered—have the resources they need to work at their highest and best, we can propel a shift. From a world of perpetual crisis toward one that creates the conditions for transformation.

Movement leaders deserve flexible, dependable, sustainable support. They need us to have staying power. We are in—and we are committed to staying the course.

Accelerating progress

Over the next week in New York, we’ll be convening conversations among many different leaders to explore all of these issues, including building on a feminist response to crisis, particularly crises that are often underfunded and overlooked. And we’ll report back on this blog with some of the lessons and insights that emerged.

Every year, CSW offers a welcome chance to connect with leaders working to advance gender equality all over the world. It is also a potent reminder: after a year of rising crises, the stakes for our work are growing every day. With collaboration and innovation, we can move away from a time of ever-mounting threats and accelerate our progress toward a future of equality, justice, and joy.

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