What We Are Reading: December 2022

Illustration by Vidushi Yadev

Written by Melinda Wells

Feminist annual reports are their own unique category of art and expression. For the December edition of What We’re Reading, we are sharing a few that we found beautiful and inspiring. By offering motivation alongside critical information, each is a powerful window into global feminist organizing and activism. They also serve as an invitation into feminist philanthropy, showcasing both the values and practices of some of the most inspiring leaders in our field. Enjoy. 

Illustration by Vidushi Yadev

We seek a lot of inspiration from the kind of metaphorical meaning water holds to us, our movements and the funding ecosystem. Its rich metaphysical existence is an example of what perseverance, resilience and flexibility really looks like in practise, key characteristics we have witnessed in young feminist movements that we feel so privileged to support.

Traversing Diverse Bodies of Water Together; Connected by Turbulent and Calm Currents is the annual report for FRIDA, the young feminist fund. As the title suggests, the theme of the review is water, cascading through the highlights of the year’s grantmaking and activism. The report includes deep dives on climate justice and the Young African Feminists’ radical convening. FRIDA uses the metaphor of water to show the resilience of young feminist activists in adapting and persevering in the face of the many challenges of 2021. 

In the period covered, FRIDA flowed resources to activists via 96 grants totalling just under $700,000 USD. In addition, FRIDA convened its first-ever virtual West, East, Southern, and Central African (WESCA) gathering of 100 young feminist activists, with particular attention given to equity—including language equity—and collective care. The report spotlights FRIDA’s 2021 report on the work of youth climate activists, What the Water Brings, a review of four years of work alongside young feminist climate activists globally. 

If you only have a few minutes, spend one of them drinking in the beautiful art in this report, and then focus in on the section which offers highlights of young feminist activism across the globe. 

Annual Report: Songs in the Future, African Women’s Development Fund (2022)

Illustration by NextLevel Stories

What if we decolonised our view of African women’s leadership? What if we praised the ambition and dedication of African women to our communities? What if we collaboratively and sensuously nurtured and inspired them to see the vision of liberated African women and gender-diverse people? What if we prioritised supporting frontline institutions to thrive in their mission for a gender-equal world, an expansive-inclusive democratic space that assures equal participation of women? What if?

Songs in the Future is the African Women’s Development Fund’s annual report—a musical dedication to the solidarity, strength, courage and dreams of African feminists. AWDF holds up the role of music in energizing, uplifting, and helping them cope with the compounding difficulties of 2021. The report celebrates successes and highlights the new beats emerging as AWDF reflects on the close of a four-year strategic planning period and engages in the listening and consultation that is informing the direction of the period ahead. 

In 2021, AWDF lifted the voices of 139 organizations in 34 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Close to $10 million USD in grants were made in three areas: Body and Health Rights: Economic Security and Justice; and Leadership, Participation and Peace. In addition, AWDF mobilized 29.5 million USD, which will lift up future grantmaking. A section with partner spotlights entitled “Passion Pages” offers the stories of change that bring these numbers to life. 

If you only have a few minutes, check out the AWDF’s insights gleaned through impact harvesting, the section on AWDF’s work supporting African feminist leadership and don’t miss the playlist with a link to some of the AWDF sisters’ favourite songs on page 31!

Annual Report: Building our Feminist Hub, Purposeful (2022)

Illustration by Lambi Chibamba

By centering our full and soulful identities in an ecosystem that has dehumanised and reduced so many of us, we are engaged in processes of political action that begin to re-shape the space around us. When we live out loud at work – when we throw the windows open – we let in the profound possibility of building work where girls can live out loud too.

Building our Feminist Hub is an update on the work of Purposeful since its launch in 2017.  Framed as a love letter to those who have accompanied the five-year process of establishing an African-based global hub for girls organizing and activism, it shares the story of a journey from vision and principles to action. The report offers many thoughtful and honest reflections on the process of living into a feminist organization as you are building it. For Purposeful, this includes supporting and nurturing a transnational team and exploring together the meaning of care and learning.

The artwork in this report brings the content to life; the murals depicting feminist friendship,  different perspectives on working as a transnational team, and parenting while building Purposeful are especially stunning.

If you only have a few minutes, check out the chronological mural of Purposeful’s journey to date, and the thoughtful section on organizational policies on parental leave, reproductive justice, and child care. This report also includes a playlist on page 6. 

Speaking of Annual Reports, the Equality Fund’s own 2021-2022 Annual Report, Embodiment: Building and Becoming the World of Our Dreams, is available here!

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