Design and Build
In its very structure and vision, the Equality Fund is a challenge to business as usual. Inspired by the radical ambition of feminist movements, we are working toward an audacious goal: to design and build one of the largest self-sustaining funds for gender equality in the world. Creating something this new, at this scale, will take patience and persistence. Together, we are up to the job.
A bold vision for learning and growth
Design and Build is the first major phase of our organizational growth. It encompasses the first five years of the Equality Fund (2019-2024) and includes many foundational steps and processes, from establishing our core governance structures, to building out our programs, to launching our brand, and establishing plans for accountability and key milestones. This critical phase is filled with learning, adaptation, experimentation, and change.
In this first chapter of our growth, the Equality Fund and two of our partners, the Toronto Foundation and World University Services Canada (WUSC) have co-signed an agreement with the Government of Canada to ensure the effective stewardship of its $300 million CAD contribution. Under this agreement, the Toronto Foundation acts as the Equality Fund’s fiduciary partner, while WUSC provides capacity-strengthening support to the Equality Fund for its grantmaking program. The Equality Fund will assume sole responsibility for all of these functions as the Design and Build phase draws to a close.
Rooted in accountability to feminist movements
An essential step in the Design and Build phase has been the convening of global consultations to further develop and refine the Equality Fund’s strategies, structures, and processes.
These consultations, a joint initiative between the Equality Fund and the Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), have served as a crucial step toward building accountability to women’s rights and feminist organizations around the world. Between October 2018 and March 2020, they explored such themes as:
How to shift power and ensure accountability to feminist movements; urgent gaps in the feminist funding ecosystem; how to ensure coherence with other grant making programs; how to structure transparent and accountable decision-making processes around funding decisions.
How the Equality Fund can break new ground in turning feminist principles into actual governance structures that build in accountability to feminist movements.
Philanthropic strategies: how to build on feminist philanthropic principles and cultivate a network of individual and institutional actors committed to systems change, shifting power and building a community of feminist donors.
Investment: how to best structure meaningful participation by feminist economists, activists and analysts in the oversight and priority-setting of the investment function; how to develop feminist guidance for investment activities; how to capture good practices.
Face-to-face consultations were convened in Panama City, Panama and Accra, Ghana (both in December 2019) and Colombo, Sri Lanka (in February 2020), with additional consultations and webinars hosted online throughout the winter of 2020.
Through this process, AWID gathered the input of more than 1,000 activists and organizers from over 65 countries, stating that “to our knowledge, this is one of the most thorough and extensive feminist movement consultations ever undertaken in the early stages of a funding program for women’s rights and/or gender equality.”
In May 2020, AWID compiled a report to capture the wide array of themes that emerged in the consultations. Click here to read the findings in full. The Equality Fund is working through the report’s recommendations and will share its reflections in late 2020.