Funding our Future: Resourcing the feminist movements driving climate action

Mama Odari, Mama Cash Grantee Partner

Mama Cash and Equality Fund policy brief on climate finance

Executive Summary

Feminist movements are driving climate solutions, bringing critical perspectives and building initiatives to advance climate justice at the local, national, regional, and international levels. As governments and philanthropic actors increase climate finance investments, there is increasing recognition of the intersection of gender equality and climate justice. There is also a growing understanding of the role of local organisations in adaptation and mitigation and in addressing the root causes of the crisis. Despite this, organisations led by women, girls, trans and intersex people remain dramatically underfunded.

To meet the urgency and severity of the climate crisis, and its disproportionate impact on women, girls, trans and intersex people in the Global South, multiple, diverse, and creative funding strategies are needed. Resourcing feminist movements is a key yet underused approach in delivering on ambitious policy goals on climate justice, gender equality, and sustainable development. 

The good news is that the infrastructure to fund these actors exists. Women’s funds around the world are already supporting and channelling resources to the feminist movements implementing robust, transformative and sustainable climate action. This brief sets out the case for funding feminist movements and organisations through climate finance and highlights women’s funds as a key partner and mechanism to realise this strategy. It demonstrates how:

  • Many feminist organisations work effectively at the intersection of gender equality and climate justice 
  • Feminist movements and organisations are driving action on climate adaptation and mitigation 
  • The work of feminist movements is complex and gradual, though early, measurable results are being seen
  • While many funders are concerned about the ‘risks’ in supporting less traditional climate actors, there is greater risk in not funding the feminist movements driving transformative climate action 
  • Feminist movements and organisations’ climate activities are scalable 

The brief concludes with a set of tangible actions for government donors to realise their commitments to advancing climate justice and gender equality, and ensuring funding reaches the local level. 

Seven tangible actions  

  1. At a minimum, meet existing targets on climate finance, sustainable development, and gender equality and ensure climate finance is contributed as additional to ODA budgets.  
  2. Increase the proportion of climate-related ODA that serves gender equality objectives to 88%, including ensuring 15% of this funding has gender equality as a principle objective. 
  3. Direct a greater proportion of overall civil society funding to women’s and LBTQI rights organisations, particularly those based in countries in the Global South, and those led by structurally excluded groups. 
  4. Track and report on the percentage of climate finance going directly to women’s and LBTQI organisations in the Global South, including setting specific targets to significantly increase this number (for example quadrupling in the next 4 years). 
  5. Increase the proportion of climate finance that is delivered through transparent, accessible,  grants-based mechanisms that protect human rights and is in accordance with the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement and OECD guidance on development cooperation. 
  6. When direct funding is not possible, engage with women’s and feminist funds as equal partners, grounded in trust-based cooperation, in order to reach a wide range of organisations working on different intersections and various levels.  
  7. Deepen collaboration with feminist climate activists, including through their meaningful engagement in climate finance discussions and decisions, to support greater understanding of the intersection between gender equality and environment. 

What are women’s funds?

In this report, ‘women’s funds’ and ‘feminist funds’ refer to a specific set of organisations, purpose-built to provide funding and other support to feminist movements. These funds emerge from, are embedded in, and are accountable to the movements they serve. They are able to reach grassroots women’s and LBTQI (lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex) rights organisations, often prioritising underfunded and otherwise structurally excluded groups. Given their location within feminist movements, a fundamental aspect of women’s funds is the particular kind of relationship they have with their partners, one that is grounded in trust that partners know best their multiple and interrelated challenges and how to solve them. This kind of relationship lends itself to women’s funds providing core, flexible, predictable, and long term funding, as well as other supports like capacity strengthening, networking, and shared learning.

The Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds comprises 47 women’s funds that collectively provide grants in over 172 countries, totaling over $214 million in 2020. It serves as a global political network of autonomous women’s and feminist funds that nurture transformation by resourcing, supporting and accompanying movements led by women, girls, trans, intersex and non-binary people, and collectives primarily in the Global South and East.

Read the full report here

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