First-of-its-kind partnership between the UK government and the Equality Fund delivers new resources—and momentum—to feminist movements

OTTAWA, March 8, 2023—As the world marks International Women’s Day, the Equality Fund is thrilled to announce a partnership with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) that will deliver 33 million GBP (approximately 54 million CAD) to human rights and women’s rights movements via our grantmaking across the Global South. 

This critical contribution allows us to significantly increase the resources we deploy to women, girls, and trans activists working tirelessly to change harmful laws, demand women’s equal political participation, end practices like child marriage, protect women fleeing violence, and much more, with a projected 33 percent increase in overall grantmaking through 2028. It is a direct response to the longstanding gap between the urgent work of feminist movements and the resources needed to realize their missions on a global scale. In 2019-2020, for example, just 1.5 percent of gender-related Official Development Assistance went to women’s rights organizations.

A wave of global advocacy is pushing to change this equation. Through the Alliance for Feminist Movements, for example, global leaders are coming together across sectors to call for an increase of both the quality and quantity of funding for feminist movements. With its new contribution, FCDO is stepping up to help answer the call.

UK International Development Minister, Andrew Mitchell, said,

It is hard to understand development if you do not see it through the eyes of girls and women, and you cannot achieve development unless you unleash and enable their full potential. We commit to being a genuine and generous partner to grassroots organisations, championing localisation and recognising the critical role they play in advancing gender equality and, in the current context, resisting the increasing attacks on women’s rights.

The FCDO contribution will be distributed across the Equality Fund’s four core grantmaking programs, resourcing both emerging and established feminist organizations in the Global South. This includes direct support to women’s rights organizations and feminist funds, as well as flexible and urgent emergency funding in natural disasters, humanitarian crises and conflict zones.

All of these efforts are gaining urgency amid rising authoritarianism and crackdowns on women’s human rights across the globe. 

When the Government of Canada made a historic contribution to the Equality Fund in 2019, we recognized its unique potential to catalyze new resources throughout the world. This major investment from the UK’s FCDO is the latest proof that this vision is being realized on a global scale. It brings critical resources and newfound momentum to feminist movements across the Global South, just as they are delivering the solutions we need,

said The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.

The Equality Fund supports women’s rights and feminist organizations leading the way across intersecting issues from gender-based violence, sexual violence in conflict, to land rights, racial justice, and disability rights. Since launching in 2019, it has committed $53 million CAD to support over 300 organizations working in 85 countries.

This partnership sends a clarion call to the world: The courageous work of feminist movements is fundamental to a just, sustainable, and thriving future,” said Jess Tomlin, co-CEO of the Equality Fund. “Even more, it says that the best way to support this brave and essential work is to join forces in boldly funding it.

The Equality Fund model combines global grantmaking, feminist philanthropy, policy advocacy, and gender-lens investing to build a sustainable pipeline of resources for feminist movements at scale and for generations to come. 

About the Equality Fund

The Equality Fund is a new model for sustainable investment in global feminist movements. Backed by a $300 million contribution from the Government of Canada, it unites gender-lens investing, bold government funding, and powerful, multi-sector philanthropy to unlock new capital for women’s rights organizations and movements. The Equality Fund has committed $53 million CAD to date to support over 300 organizations working in 85 countries.

Media contact
Sarah Matsushita, Director of Communications, Equality Fund | [email protected]

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