How Can Grant Making Better Support Women’s Civil Society?

The e-discussions will be active from 16 October 2017 to 31 October 2017 and everyone from women’s civil society is welcome to participate. The discussions are intended to capture real-world experiences and observations.  Therefore, it is not necessary to be a thematic expert to participate. We invite you to contribute to this discussion and solutions exchange by telling us:

  1. Leaving No One Behind: How can we bring the valuable experiences from women’s civil society around reaching marginalized rights holders into government and inter-governmental spaces?
  2. Capacity Development: What kinds of support does women’s civil society need most and how can grant making contribute towards this?
  3. Learning from What Doesn’t Work: What has and hasn’t worked regarding grant making for women’s civil society?  What should we do differently?

Moderator: The discussion will be moderated by Katherine Garven from Impact Ready.

Katherine Garven is a program design and implementation consultant who specializes in results based management, monitoring and evaluation, and gender equality and women’s empowerment.  She uses innovative communications technologies to help stakeholders express themselves and share their stories through audio, video, and multi-media platforms.  She has designed numerous socio-economic development programs for Indigenous communities in Canada and has conducted international evaluations for United Nations organizations and not-for-profit groups.  Katherine is currently conducting the Global Evaluation of the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality with Impact Ready LLD. 


Topic 1: Leaving No One Behind

In committing to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN member states have recognized that the dignity of the individual is fundamental and that the agenda’s goals and targets should be met for all nations and people and for all segments of society. Furthermore, they have committed to reaching first those who are furthest behind.  This discussion group will exchange experiences and perspectives around how women’s civil society can positively influence government policies and actions to better serve marginalized groups.  The discussion group will also look into how grant making to women’s civil society can be leveraged to advance the agenda of “leaving no one behind”.

Topic 2: Capacity Development

Women’s civil society plays a key role in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEEW).  Strengthening the capacities of women’s civil society directly increases its ability to effectively advocate for women’s rights and advance the GEEW agenda.  This discussion group will identify key areas where women’s civil society would benefit from support and capacity development.  Through this e-discussion, members of women’s civil society will exchange experiences and perspectives around how donors and grant making can strengthen their work and support them in achieving their goals and objectives.

Topic 3: Learning from What Doesn’t Work

To effectively advance the gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEEW) agenda, actors must constantly re-evaluate approaches and strategies to identify what works best.  Some of the most valuable learning often emerges from experiences that did not go as planned or initiatives that did not achieve planned outcomes.  This discussion group will exchange experiences and perspectives around lessons learned from initiatives that did not go as planned or that did not achieve desired results and will discuss what could have been done to achieve better outcomes.  Through this discussion, participants will help generate knowledge to strengthen future grant making. 


When contributing to the discussions, please indicate which question you are refering to by marking A1, A2, or A3 (answer 1, 2, or 3) before your comment.

Empower Women is partnering with the independent evaluation team, Impact Ready, to host this live discussion with the Fund for Gender Equality grantees and Empower Women members and friends.

Everyone is welcome to participate! 

Relevant Tags:

MDGs and beyond
  • Dr. Wanjiru Kibe

    A1-  Women are the backbone of development at the grass root and their inclusion is key, however, failure to have their agenda in all the discussions has led to them being left behind in development matters and funding by extension. Creating awareness of the existence of organizations that are ready to involve women in their strategies and in turn interact with them would contribute in not leaving anyone behind.

    A2 - Capacity building is one way, amongst others of appreciating the participants. Soft skills that encourage one to speak out without fear will assist the civil rights team embed and cascade gender equality issues articulately.  Lack of orderly and systematic strategy/goal formulation is an impediment to growth, and skills in these areas will empower the team to enable them interact effectively with the women.

    A3 - have a platform that allows the women to discuss their successes, failures and best practices as a learning dashboard. This will encourage them to speak out and overcome any inferiority feelings

  • Ida Guetti
    A1: Leaving No One Behind. Women have the extraordinary capacity to listen the needs of maginalised people and to give voice to them. So, I think it's necessary to raise the number of active women in civil society by means of education programmes for women leaders, communication campaings, and lobbying actions addressed to ngo, policy, no profit sector.

    A1. Leave No One Behind as a key principle of 2030 Agenda recognizes nothing done for women without women. Women’s Civil Society experience can be a great influence in reaching the marginalized in the communities because they are closer to the grassroots and understands the pains and stigmas they pass through in their work place. Women’s Civil Society can help organize women into groups or cooperatives, build and strengthen their capacity, empower and give them voice to influence their case.

    We need to build scalable and sustainable impact intervention that can empower the marginalized and proffer solutions to enabling environment by the implementation of policies and legal reforms that remove structural barriers, challenge discriminatory norms, ensure adequate social protection, expand access to crucial infrastructure and facilitate the organization and collective voice and representation of women to set the terms of their economic engagement.

    A2. Capacity Building: Women’s Civil Society needs continuous capacity building and support on issues bothering on Gender Equality and Women Economic Empowerment and best practices. This will enable them stay on track. This capacity building and rooted support will translate into the followings;

    1. It will promote good governance and women participation in leadership.
    2. It will balance gender equality advocacy and good governance.
    3. It will improve gender value.
    4. It will alleviate women poverty and address challenges that affect women.
    5. It will help to create an enabling environment for sustainable development for activities carried out by women.
    6. It will build women focus on capacity and accountability in service delivery and economic emancipation.

    A3. Learning from what doesn’t work: What hasn’t worked includes; Accountability and transparency issues, inability to design an impact and scalable interventions. Sometimes, this is as a result insufficient funding and the Actors involved, especially when the grant were not made directly to the Women’s Civil Society.

    Let’s fund Women’s Civil Society that has impact and scalable intervention with inbuilt monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

  • Lee Webster
    Interesting discussions, I am learning a lot! 

    A1.  Women's rights organisations, particularly those led by and representing marginalised womem, are uniquely placed to drive forward the Leave No-one Behind agenda.  I work for Womankind Worldwide, and we have just published a report, Standing with the changemakers, which documents the strategies that WROs and movements use to influence government policy and acheive change in the lives of women. You can read it here: There have been notable successes led by women's movements at local and national level - increasing women's political participation, reforming laws on violence against women, enegdering constitution-making processes to name but a few. I think what is then often missing is getting those women's voices heard in international arena. We need to get beyond the 'usual suspects' (and take an honest look at ourselves here), and support a wider range of divrse women's voices to be heard. International civil society has a key role to play here - in opening up those opportunities and providing financial and logistical support for that to happen. 

    A2. Linked to A1, as we all know and many here have said, women's rights organisations are predominantly operating on a shoestring. Whilst gender equality is high on many donor agendas, donors have been slow to fundamentally change their relationships with women's rights organsations to support them to set and follow their own agendas.  We have a few recommendations on this to donors (also in the same report, mentioned above):
    * Increase the accessibility of existing funding streams to WROs and women’s movements, particularly funds targeted at human rights and civil society organisations.
    * Increase devolved funding through women’s funds and specialist intermediary organisations that have strong partnerships with southern WROs, women’s movements and WHRDs.
    * Place greater emphasis on core funding, where possible, based on WROs’ plans and budgets, and provide sizable grants. Small amounts of money can stimulate innovation but do not enable vital expansion, scale-up and strengthening of organisational and operational capacity.
  • fatma el-taher
    1. To design any intervention, it should come from the ground, most of the initiatives related to women empowerment it come from up to down. So we need first to make a survey to know the real need of the women from the women themselves because most of women didn’t know their actual needs because they usually benefited from a ready-made project as interest of the donor. Also we need to train them about how they identify it.Targeting all stakeholders (governmental officials, community, men, grand mothers
    2. Coordination meetings with the most donors which are keen to work on this topic to reach to a common vision for what we need to do (results), How, when and the available budgets for that.
    3. Documentation for the women success story which will be used as initiatives / case for other women.


  • Karen Sugar

    A strong civil society directly correlates with poverty alleviation, greater voice for women and minorities, sustainable human development and empowerment. A vibrant public square can shift existing paradigms, challenge entrenched patriarchal notions, demand better governance and responsibility from elected officials and empower communities to move themselves forward. One can see how this would create a lack of enthusiasm and support for civil society.

    Grassroots, citizen engagement is a critical, while often overlooked, goal. A political dimension must be included to address inequality and other systemic causes of poverty. I have witnessed that engagement and participation is desired and welcomed on the local level; this is especially true and important in post conflict regions, or areas recovering from natural or manmade disaster. Giving local citizens the tools and mechanisms to engage and lead has impacts and spirals truly inspiring.

    Supporting community based initiatives instead of top down institutions, allows for all voices to be heard. A vibrant civil society should be a priority for poverty alleviation; you can provide all the temporary ‘fixes’ but if citizens do not have a voice or a seat at the policy table, little will change. 

  • Houry Geudelekian
    A2) My contribution is to flag a recent development in support of UN Trust Fund which will directly influence these projects:

    As Women’s Rights advocates, we are happy to see EU’s Spotlight Initiative of 500 Million Euro for ending violence against women but concerned on who will have access to those funds. It is still unclear if it will be managed by agents who are experts in women and girls initiatives. It is not right that UN Trust Fund is not involved from day one. They are the experts in this mechanism and have direct access to women’s organizations. It is true that this is a much larger initiative than they can handle but it is better to enhance their capacity rather than divert the amount to UN entities who are not experts and have larger overhead. Is UN Women even being consulted?
    More detailed info attached:
      Thanks for sharing this laudable information with us Houry Geudelekian, this is awesome!
      Count Phelyn Skill in for the Sportlinght Innitiave.
      We strongly support strengthening of the UN Trust Fund to manage the fund rather than creating new partnerships which will eventually hinder the effective use of the fund. We hope the Authourities involved will do something very fast about it.
      Thanks once again for bringing those details to us. 
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Tequila Brooks

    One area in which grant makers can make a big difference in tackling all three issues (Leaving No One Behind, Capacity Development, and Learning from What Doesn't Work) is by supporting workplace-sponsored child care in low and middle income countries.  

    A case in point is the current campaign by maquiladora (export processing zone) workers in Central America.  Local women's advocacy groups and trade unions are advocating that their employers and international brands follow laws in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to establish employer-sponsored child care.  

    On October 12, 2017, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) issued a report Tackling Childcare The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare.  This excellent report reinforces the campaign by providing data demonstrating how workplace-sponsored child care can be good for business.  The report discusses 10 original in-depth case studies that show how employers in blue, pink and white collar companies have made workplace-sponsored child care work in low-, middle- and high-income countries.  This is a report that women's and children's advocates - including Corporate Social Responsibility advocates within companies - can take to skeptical CEOs, CFOs and Boards of Directors to persuade them to fund and implement workplace-sponsored child care.

    As discussed in my piece in IntLawGrrls IFC report on business case for workplace childcare reinforces maquiladora workers’ campaign in Central America, workplace-sponsored child care plays an important role not only for companies and their employees, but for society in general.  The IFC, OECD and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) have all pointed to the importance of early childhood education to the development of young minds - and to the lack of good early childhood education programs in many low- and middle-income countries.

    This is an area where grant makers can make a difference.  While the IFC shows how workplace-sponsored child care benefits the bottom line of company coffers (reduction of absenteeism, for example, or attracting new business as a result of good practices), there are significant start-up and other costs involved in setting up workplace-sponsored child care programs.  Companies in low- and middle-income countries will have a difficult time coming up with these initial costs - especially in low margin industries where women predominate, like garment manufacturing and agriculture.  International brands can support workpace-sponsored child care with both funding and purchasing policies that favor suppliers with workplace-sponsored child care.  Other international companies can support workplace-sponsored child care programs through education grants and their Corporate Social Responsibility programs.  

    International grant makers can play a unique role in funding both initial start-up costs for and programs supporting workplace-sponsored child care. Examples include:

    • Funding needs assessments, surveys and focus groups of working parents to learn about what kind of programs they want and need (Disney funded a needs assessment in Central America through local women's groups and facilitated by Canada-based Maquiladora Solidarity Network
    • Funding dialogue between local workers, worker representatives, women's rights groups, employers, international brands and governments to ensure that child care programs are feasible and meet workers' and children's needs;
    • Developing programs that provide companies and trade unions with guidance on how to establish effective workplace-sponsored child care programs that meet workers' needs and children's educational needs;
    • Developing programs to provide workforce development training and certification programs for childcare providers at varying education levels;
    • Supporting secondary and university-level Early Childhood Education programs in low-income and middle-income countries;
    • Funding legal research on the development of national laws that create the best legal environment to support workplace-sponsored child care;
    • Funding initial start-up costs for workplace-sponsored child care programs.
    Working women in Central America have challenged their employers and governments to follow national laws to implement employer-sponsored child care programs.  International grant makers can help working women, employers, governments and the global CSR community to meet that challenge.
  • Lesha Witmer

    A1: According to the latest report of OECD only 0,5/1% reaches women's organizations directly. Donors should ackonwledge that women can handle money very well. Giving them direct access to funds empowers them, changes power-relations, creates ownership, is more efficient and effective on the ground and reduces chances of fraud - this has been well reachered by knowledge institutes!

    Appreciating the cost involved with smaller grants-making, donors/ sponsors need to design methods to support women's organizations directly e.g. by making good use of existing women's networks that can assist with that. Organizations like women for water, Sorptimist International, IFBPW know how to do this and have " their feet on the ground'.
    Women are agents of change, not just victims! let's stop treating them as such all the time. Give them the means to act.
    Women organizations need financial support for advocacy, awareness raising, capacity development. (I agree with previous speakers that this is very difficult, under-valued and underestimated).

    Methodologies like gender-budgetting, well esthablished by now, can assist with looking at impacts and discussion on budget allaocation.
    Accept voluntary contributions as real value and allow capetalization of that (give every hour spend a monetary value).

    Reporting and proposal formats have to be a lot easier. You cannot get a receipt for bying paperclips in the Sahara!

    Women for Water and sister organizations, including with assistance of UNU, OECD and others, are doing more and more research and advocating for additional/ other ways of reporting. See e.g. our publications: 

    A2: do not think / assume " everybody"  has acces to internet (on a regular basis). Just publishing on the web (and even then) will not inform local women's groups enough on funding possibilities and support in general. Ensure through women's organizations and other NGOs that information reaches women on time e.g. through town-hall meetings and in understandable language.
    Supporting vocational training for (adult) women, also in " non-traditional" occupations is a very powerful tool. 

  • Jared Bakuza

    Dr. Jared Sylivester Bakuza
    A1: It is indeed essential that every individual is included in the development process. Women in particular due to their preoccupation with domestic and child care tend to be left behind during the development process. Deliberate arrangement should be initiated during development planning and implementation to bring them into the process by setting aside special treatment (seats, time or desks) for them. That is why, my institution Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) in Tanzania was until recently fully involved in the Pre-entry programme of the University of Dar es Salaam where adolescent girls without sufficient qualifications to join university directly were provided with tailored training and matriculation to facilitate their entry into university. Some of these girls trained at DUCE have gone to become graduates with very good pass marks, and have excelled in their work and career.

    A2: Empowering women civil society is the doorway to gender equality and development success.  Women know issues affecting other women better and they are also trusted by women and the society at large.  It is thus essential that women's organizations are financially and logistically supported to enable them to perform their duties.

  • sevidzem ernestine leikeki
    Investing in women economic empowerment is investing in prosperity. Women play a very vital role in every community. 

    I beleive in the power of women to change their lives, their communities and the world. women have many potentials but these potentials are blocked by poverty, discrimination, violence and inequality. Providing women with the opportunities to learn, know thier rights, earn income and lead the change they want see requires alot of support. Women civil society live the daily challenges of these vulnerable group. Working in local communities opens up the mind in understanding the challenges of women. Support to  women civil society both financially and morally is very important.
  • Monica de Pinto Ribeiro Hancke
    A3) There is a severe lack of funding for women's civil society specifically doing advocacy. In late 2016, Women Thrive conducted its National SDG Scorecard with 150 grassroots women's rights organizations in 32 countries and revealed that 79% do not know where to identify donors who fund advocacy (for Sustainable Development Goal 5) and that 87% have not secured funding for SDG5 advocacy (moving into 2017). We know that when we unite, mobilize, and strengthen movements (and coalitions of civil society) the impact is greater - however, funders are still not investing in such work because the path to impact is longer and less tangible than funding service programs.

    The OECD DAC reported that in 2014, only 8% of gender-focused aid to civil society organizations went directly to those in developing countries - whereas INGOs are receiving the larger amounts and not reinvesting it in small, local, grassroots organizations. More funding needs to be directly invested into grassroots women's rights groups to support local ownership in development. Again, these organizations have the experience, expertise, network and know-how on how to best address the problems they and their communities are facing. 
    • Lesha Witmer
      the OECD report is even more negative: only 0,5 to 1 % reaches women's organizations directly nd can be traced back to real activity support.

      Agreed that support for advocay, information transfer etc. is severly lacking. See my more elabored comments.
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Monica de Pinto Ribeiro Hancke
    A2) As grassroots advocates and groups, Women Thrive Alliance members have reported needing strengthened skills in advocacy, communications, and fundraising to bolster and amplify their existing efforts to influence gender equality policy and programs in their countries. Grantmaking to grassroots women's rights organizations is key to long-term sustainable development as they have the knowledge, experiences, and expertise needed to most effectively change behaviors and promote integrated development initiatives that actually address their needs. 
  • Charlotte Taylor
    Hi all, great to read through some of the comments that have already been posted. At Practical Action, we wanted to contribute a few points from our work with women's civil society groups in Sudan.

    1 - Leaving No One Behind
    Our experiences in local contexts have shown that; demonstrating successful experiences for development programs where women are involved in each and every step is the best advocacy tool could be used to promote women rights in participation and inclusion in sustainable development.

    Wadi Elku Project in North Darfur adopted the IWRM approach (Integrated Water Resource Management) which considers the participatory planning and management as essential elements. Our practices within this project succeeded in putting women at the heart of planning and implementation where the government is a main stakeholder and effective project actor. Women and Women Development Associations and Network have then been considered in the government planning processes related to Water & agriculture. They have been invited to coordination meetings, participated in the natural resources mapping and membered in the community management structures at locality and state level.

    2 - Capacity Development
    Practical Action Sudan prioritises working with women civil society organizations with the aim of building their capacities through on-job training, specific training programs, and national/international participation opportunities could be offered through our networks.

    We usually focus in two areas of capacity building;

    • Organizational & management capacities; this delivered though including women in capacity building programs those focus on vital areas like fundraising, conflict resolution, financial management, program management, etc.
    • Vocational training programs: those focus in building the capacity of women and girls in different technical areas those enable them to generate income and socially empower them through having knowledge and skills for the benefit of their communities (not been excluded).

    Sub-granting women organizations also plays great role in enhancing their capacity, yet it must be associated with capacity building program and close mentoring as well as monitoring. It usually puts women CSOs in direct responsibility of managing financial resources what require solid documentation system and proper implementation to meet PA and donor’s regulations.

    A good example for that is our partnership with Women Development Associations network in Kassala for implementing about one third of the project activities of Water for The Three States in East Sudan. Sub-granting provided to this local women network has played significant role in improving their organizational structure, increasing the capacity and quantity of the staff. It also enhanced their financial management capacity. They are now part of different state projects with other sister INGO and UN agencies.

    3 - Learning from What Doesn’t Work
    We introduced revolving fund financing system to our targeted women association in rural areas in Sudan. Women associations have been delivered training sessions for revolving fund management. They have also been supported to form new women groups and association at village levels. Women network bodies took the responsibility of managing the seed fund granted and to start the revolving cycles within those sub-groups. That was very successful looking at North Darfur experience in managing revolving fund for provision of low smoke stoves for cooking in those area. The revolving approach has inspired women to form saving and loans groups which work as small villages banks to finance women small to medium businesses through revolving fund. Establishment of saving and loans groups is now one of our adopted ideas to scale up in different rural areas for their significant impact since women grant themselves through their collective action!

  • Leocadia Muzah
    A2. More capacity development should be channelled to men because they are the spearheaders and can easily drive change. over 85% of the world's population is religious and in all those religions men are the heads and women are the 'tail'. men give guidance on which direction the family should take including gender roles. so if their mind set is tranformed, a huge change may be witnessed
    • Lesha Witmer
      sorry, do not agree! let's equip women to talk to their communities and their men. That is empowerment. Let's not wait for the men to catch up
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Monica de Pinto Ribeiro Hancke
    A1) Women Thrive Alliance advocates that by equipping grassroots women's rights organizations and advocates with the skills and resources to mobilize and get #InTheRoom (of government and inter-governmental decision-making spaces) themselves, the valuable experiences will at least be heard and (hopefully) heeded. This can be accomplished through supporting collective advocacy initiatives. For instance, our #AchieveSDG5 is designed and led by grassroots advocates and is based in their realities, priorities, and solutions for development. Lastly, funding grassroots advocates and their organizations directly to ensure that the most diverse groups and marginalized rights holders have their voices heard in decision-making spaces at all level is fundamental to creating transformative change. 
  • Leocadia Muzah
    A3. there has been too much focus on Women in development instead of gender and development. meaning the focus has been put on women only instead of both men and women. Grants are given to women but we forget that they do not have deceision making power. what do we think will become of the situation? women empowerment? NO! instead, a resourced woman who becomes prone to GBV.
     a better approach would be to engage more. fight to change the mindset of men so that at the end, as the decision makers they will allow women to be. they will gladly take up the labour burdens women have because they will be now understanding and seeing the benefits of gender equality. men will support their girl children in all their endevours and even train up a boy child to show love and respect women and also helping them with tasks.
    so what i think has gone wrong in the past is the lack of male involvement in most gender equality agendas. or at least the problem should be tackled bothways. on one hand women being made to realise their potential (empowerement) and on the other hand men being transformed
    an example in grant making would be to give them grants as both man and women, capacitate them and advocate more for family businesses instead of individual businesses.
    • Leocadia Muzah
      yes Katherine. find attached 

      GALS is now what we are applying in our projects in Zimbabwe and the results are remarkable!
    • Katherine Garven
      Thank you for your insightful comments regarding gender and development.  Would you happen to have any stories to share about initiatives or strategies that work particularly well at engaging men and boys in advcoating for gender equality?
    2 of 2 Replies
  • Dosse Sossouga
    My NGO; ADET is fighting for that. So, grants for NGO; ADET will be well for women civil society coordination for women better live.
  • Dosse Sossouga
    After, it will be women and girls training, awareness raising on gender equality, women empowerment for women and girls engagement.
  • Dosse Sossouga
    Women Civil society must be well organised and well coordinated from the national to the local level. In Togo for example we are trying to do so.
    • Katherine Garven
      What you are working on in Togo sounds very interesting.  What strategies or approaches are you using to organize and coordinate women-led civil society?
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Karyn Gershon
    T2 . Over the years, Project Kesher has funded leadership training and programming to improve the status of women in Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.  We have found that supporting women in building women's groups and interfaith coalitions and then, investing in their advocacy skills is the best use of the funds we raise.  With this network of trained advocates in place, women can then work on any issue they prioritize personally and communally.  I have been frustrated by how difficult it is to get funders to invest in the process for change even when they can see the impact.  Instead, we find a greater willingness to invest in specific areas - women's health, domestic violence, etc.  I would love to see greater investment in the general process of empowerment and capacity development.  
    • Katherine Garven
      Hi Karyn, you make an excellent point about the need to train and empower women to set their own priorities.  Is it possible that part of the problem around securing funding for empowerment and capacity development might be in demonstrating concrete results?  Would you happen to have any insights around how best to measure women's empowerment and capacity development?
    • Rhea Almeida

      Hi Karyn,

      I couldn't agree more, capacity development and skill training are such an important step towards independence, financial self-sustainability and confidence building for women. I work for an organisation called SEWA in India, and we run Skill Development Projects across 6 states. Would India be of any interest to you to expand Project Kesher? Would love to work together, or even just chat about the learnings we could have from each other's work and projects. 


    2 of 2 Replies
  • 2. Most women in rural locations don't even know that they have rights.

    If example I would receive a grant to empower women, I would use it to take one small rural village and invest on solar power to get access to electricity, bringing possibility to internet access and education, help by mentoring them to produce things, which can be exported example to Europe and in this way create revenues which can be further invested to make the community self sufficient and resilient to exploitation.

    After one community is working we would go to a second village close by and make this to spread. Attention, no land is captured, no exploitation or interference to their cultures is enforced. The only new way is to advocate to the women that they have the same rights as the men have, they are equals and to give them the access to the education and revenue flow.

    I believe that the women are playing one of the most important roles to stop the climate change. It isn’t the size of the project it is the execution and flexibility. Starting small and simple and make it to have a ripple effect. The smaller the team the most flexible and quicker the implementation is.
  • Anupama Kapoor

    A3. In my journey of women's economic empowerment, I find numerous individuals, not-for-profits, government & developmental agencies, contributing immensely through their work, but many a times in their own silos. It would be prudent to work towards solidifying these efforts & initiatives, perhaps region and issue wise, and nudge them towards a 'Consolidate, Collaborate & Not Compete' outlook...I think that will make grant making focussed and impactful.

    • Katherine Garven
      What a great point about needing to work better together.  Do you have any concrete suggestions around how international funding could bring women's groups together to strengthen their capacities and networking so that they break through their silos?
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Bernice Heloo
    3. Learning from what doesn't work. We must congratulate ourselves for our past achievements as we continue to forge ahead.  I have done a lot of work in women cooperatives and how grant can help empower them. We must change ourselves and not try to change others. From the very beginning  we must plan to exit from programs and let the women take over. The women in rural communities know how to divide labour, manage resources all by themselves.  They have organic leaders and have managerial skills.  We tend to superimpose our ideas about planning,  Management 
  • Katherine Garven
    Thank you María, Robert, and Durdia for your insightful contributions!  

    A theme that I am hearing emerge from the discussion is that it is strategic to provide grants to recipients who have the capacity to make the most of it. 

    In your opinion, what kinds of capacity should recipients already have in place before receiving funding?  

    If funders provide grants to those who already have capacity, is there a risk that grantmaking could further inequality?  How should we mitigate this?
    • María Verónica Celis Vergara

      Regarding to your question, I think the key is on one hand to keep both kinds of grants. Grants for women in the most vulnerable positions and grants for women entrepreneurs. One part of fighting inequality comes in my opinion, from education we need to make sure that along with other skills, we teach empathy! I think people who can relate to other’s suffering will be more inclined to fight inequality in their own fields. 

      On the other hand, there could be strategies in place to help women entrepreneurs create the kinds of jobs that help vulnerable women the most. For example, a grant could come with a fund to hire someone in a vulnerable position and train them, or the grant could also provide access to a network that allows vulnerable women connect with women entrepreneur and learn from them. I think the possibilities are endless! :)

    • Seithati Irene Mafura
      I belive this is where the training, I answered about would come in. The criteria to assess capacity would probably entail knowledge and skill, but not desire to know and be capable to do. Therein, training of those who show true and persistent desire would help dissolve barriers of inequity.
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  • Đurđica Peranić
    Hi there, so happy to meet you all :)

    While I was thinking about (A1 and) A2 and what kinds of support does women’s civil society need most and how can grant making contribute towards, my first thought was reaction. I come from a small country in Europe, and as a part of women rights NGO, the biggest challenge in our work is trying to create a reaction in our community. People are still too lazy, too closed, too non-educated and passive to do something. I think the key to make a change is education that will bring awareness and as a total result a change in government policies and actions. Womens civil society needs education, inspiration that they are not alone, that there is a possibility to succeed.
    Giving a grant to people who make the best use of it, or who are educated enough so they can help women in decision making procces ( if the women has too many questions and too little education) is the best way to change civil society directly. Because there are too many examples when grants and donations where given to wrong people or just people who didnt know how to maximise their business and in few months- bankruptcy. And everything was lost.
    Lets educate women (entrepreneurs) that doesnt have enough money but with big ideas, how to open and after help them run business trough free training, seminars, workshops led by organizations that are given a grant or financial support. 
    Thats how I see business oriented womens civil society:)
  • Question 2
    I think giving a grant to women without proper training might be a waste. Training and exposing them to world class enterprises being led by women or started by women. This will be an eye opener to them and inspiration. Through this they will be able to learn all the stages businesses have to go through before getting to apex. Also this women need to have financial and digital literacy to propel them to higher grounds in business management.
  • María Verónica Celis Vergara

    Hey everyone! Nice to meet you :) here are my thoughts on the matter. 


    I think grant making is an amazing help, that being said, grant making alone can mean a huge loss of resources mainly because of inefficiencies in the use of them. I agree with the previous comments about education, educating the recipients of the Grant is important but I also think that it should be accompanied of Mentorship and a huge effort in Networking. 

    As a female entrepreneur myself I find that one of the biggest challenges is to connect with others who can help you succeed, this difficulties can contribute to a waste of resources because you have to spend more of your precious resources to reach the same opportunities others get just because they have the right contacts. Quoting the wise words of John Donne, "No man (in this case woman!) is an Island", I believe that to obtain the biggest possible positive impact out of a grant it is key to connect the grantee with the right people to help her succeed. A network that can help the grantee with on-the-job learning and that can provide guidance and support to make the most of the grant. 

    Also when it comes to A1, I think that it is important to have a balance between supporting what you have called "reaching first those who are furthest behind" and reaching women who are educated and driven but don't have the resources to make bigger ideas happen. I think ultimately, this group of women will be the ones to make sure the ones in the most vulnerable groups start accessing better opportunities. I think women entrepreneurs can help create an impact that benefits them and the ones that are "furthest behind". 

    Thank you for this platform! It is great to be part of these conversations :)!

  • Katherine Garven
    A2:  Thank you very much for sharing your observations and experiences!  Some key issues that I felt really came through in your story include: 1) the need for women to receive knowledge and education on how to maximize their real-world opportunities and 2) financial management training.  You raise a very interesting point that grantmaking is effective when accompanied by practical skills training.  Do you (or does anyone else) have any experiences you'd like to share about how grantmaking has strengthened the ability of women to seize opportunities?
    • Seithati Irene Mafura
      Grants, for small scale buisnesses or project, are very rare in my country Lesotho, but then again those are ussually the features of a developing country. Unfortunately this does create a huge gap between the wealthy and the common citizen.

      This is why I am deeply excited to join in this discussion panel, because Grants are much needed, but further more in the women's society. 

      There is a society that I belive exists throughout Africa, here is Southern Africa known as ' A Stokvel' a women's society in which they cobtribute to multiply their finances or groceries, or furniture etc.
      Most above poverty families, manage to live beyond the bare minimum off these societies.
      Opportunities like this one of Grants would be explosive in impacting these gatherings like this.
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  • Katherine Garven
    Welcome, everyone, to the interactive global women-led civil society discussion around how international grantmaking can be strengthened to advance gender equality!  I'm Katherine Garven and I will be the discussion moderator.  I'm also a member of the Impact Ready Evaluation Team.  We are conducting a global evaluation of UN Women's Fund for Gender Equality and are keen to learn about your experiences and perspectives around what works and what could be improved in terms of financially supporting women-led civil society.  

    When you would like to contribute to the discussions, please just indicate which discussion you are refering to by marking A1, A2, or A3 (answer 1, 2, or 3) before your comment. You can contribute in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.  I will try my best to moderate the discussion and help translate between these languages.

    Let's get started!  

  • Annah Bengesai
    Intresting topic. Thank you
    • Katherine Garven
      Hi Annah!  I'm glad you find the topic interesting.  This discussion group will be a great opportunity for women-led civil society actors and organizations to share their experiences and perspectives, connect and network with each other, and contribute to strengthening international financial support for women-led civil society.  Would you like to contribute any thoughts or stories related to the discussion launch questions?
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