Committing to Gender Equality: Moving the World from Words to Action

June 30, 2021
The Generation Equality Forum is a global milestone in the fight for a gender-equal future. Convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, it unites leaders from every sector in new commitments—and action—toward gender equality. The gathering comes at a critical moment for the world, as the COVID-19 pandemic simultaneously threatens fragile progress on gender equality and brings renewed attention and momentum to the feminist movements pointing the way toward a more just and sustainable recovery.  

At the Forum’s first gathering in Mexico City in March, we announced a new $15 million USD partnership with the Ford Foundation to reimagine the ways that government, private philanthropy, and the private sector can work together to unlock capital for feminist movements and women’s rights organizations. At the second and final gathering in Paris, we seek to continue this momentum, spotlighting the critical role that feminist movements will play in moving gender equality from an aspiration to a reality in the years ahead. In this three-part blog series, we share more about the context for this moment, the commitments we are making, and the essential role of young activists in guiding us forward.

Generation Equality Commitment Maker

The Paris Generation Equality Forum is now upon us, with governments, civil society, philanthropic organizations, and private sector representatives coming together to deliver long-overdue progress on gender equality. It is the culmination of a lengthy process—and it’s just the beginning.

The final “Acceleration Plan” has been released—a set of commitments from institutions, organizations, and governments to drive new progress across a series of key action areas, from gender-based violence to economic justice and rights. The Equality Fund is a part of the leadership team for Action Coalition 6, focused on feminist movements and leadership. We will make a number of commitments at the Paris Forum, and have been reflecting internally on what it takes to move from commitments to action.

The Equality Fund knows that feminist organizations and movements are key to advancing gender equality, and yet they remain chronically underfunded. Over the next five years, we commit to mobilizing a minimum of CAD 110 million (approximately USD 90 million) in financial and other direct support to feminist organizations and movements. 

But we know that how we fund, and the ways in which we show up as a feminist organization, is as important as how much money we move.

  • Flexible, multi-year, core funding allows our grantee partners the agility to address the issues that they believe are the most critical. Participatory and community-informed grantmaking processes help us to shift power and stay accountable to feminist movements.
  • Advocacy plays a critical role. We will accompany our funding commitment with efforts to drive systems change, convening and contributing to new conversations about feminist funding. This includes how to expand the overall feminist funding ecosystem. As a part of this, we will contribute to the design of a new Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements. 
  • Along with activists and investors, we will pursue answers to the challenging questions around how to move capital in ways that are fully aligned with our feminist values. We will continue to investigate how investments can support feminist futures. This will happen through the stewardship of our financial resources and in our gender-lens investment field-building work with allies.
  • We have a responsibility as a feminist organization to learn and unlearn, change and grow, and ensure that our internal structures are true to our values. We will work deeply and persistently on anti-racism, anti-oppression, and decolonization in all our relationships and ways of working. This includes questioning our relationship to and with power and examining what “shifting power” means across all aspects of our work.
  • We will continue to evolve as a feminist funder. This means, for example, knowing how to step back when a feminist organization in the global South is better served by a direct funding relationship with a donor, and when we need to step forward to move money to movements ourselves.
  • We will continue to explore how we support emerging organizations and strengthen connections among movements.
  • We will contribute to feminist monitoring and evaluation methodologies, identifying information and data gaps, and strengthening our ability to measure and analyze trends and progress.

Wherever we can, we will work in partnership, including signing on to GEF collective commitments led by Equal Measures 2030 aimed at strengthening data collection from feminist organizations and activists, and by OECD Gendernet on increasing reporting and accountability on development assistance for gender equality. We are also joining a collective commitment initiated by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) on advancing Feminist Foreign Policy. 

As the eyes of the world turn toward Paris, we celebrate the progress and momentum of this important milestone on the journey to gender equality. We also know that commitments are essential—and just the beginning. Accountability and action will ultimately determine the progress made. As a part of the AC6 leadership team, the Equality Fund will continue to work towards a robust accountability framework for Generation Equality commitments. But first of all, we will hold ourselves accountable to our own commitment to make these next five years count for feminists.

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