$1.2 Billion reasons to dance with us! 

Put on your dancing shoes! We’ve crossed the billion mark this year, mobilizing $1.2 billion for feminists in the last decade.

From 2011 to 2021, Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds (INWF)’s 40 members collectively mobilized over $1.2 billion dollars to support women’s and feminist movements worldwide. This substantial transfer of resources towards feminist movements led by women, girls, trans, and non-binary persons has translated into 25.174 grants, research initiatives, capacity-building programs, and advocacy efforts spanning 172 countries. These resources were key to advancing gender equality objectives, including climate justice efforts, labor rights, and democracy. But not enough with the overlapping crises that jeopardize the well-being of everyone, with particular impact on the lives of billions of girls, women, trans, non-binary, and intersex people worldwide. A looming climate crisis, along with increasing threats to democracy and peace due to the rise of authoritarian, far-right, and militarized governments, is strengthening anti-rights and anti-gender forces. Oftentimes, women’s, feminist, and LGBTQI+ groups are the first ones to be targeted—a sign of their revolutionary potential.

Amidst such a complex context, it’s no surprise that women’s and feminist organizations have much to do and obviously need funding to operate. However, during the last decade, women’s and feminist funds (WFFs) members of Prospera only had resources to fund 20% of the eligible applications they received. If we were able to reach the billion mark after ten years of hard work, just imagine the collective transformations we could achieve with 1B per year instead of each decade!

Prospera’s collective advocacy in philanthropy has also borne fruit in the last decade, with some private foundations recently adopting decolonizing narratives, intersectional approaches, and even participatory methodologies, all of which had been practiced—and often pioneered—by Women’s and Feminist Funds. Our effective model may explain MacKenzie Scott’s generous gifts: she donated to several member funds and the Secretariat with gifts amounting to USD $170M in the past three years. The expanding influence of Prospera members underscores the value and significance of our feminist funding model—a participatory grantmaking approach based on trust that responds promptly to the opportunities and needs of women’s and feminist movements in relevant, flexible, and rapid ways. This transformative approach is reshaping philanthropy, highlighting our commitment to establishing equitable partnerships with movement actors and actively contributing to building such movements rather than merely serving as intermediaries. Consequently, all funds within our network have doubled or even tripled their grantmaking budgets, putting more and better funding into the hands of feminist movements across the globe. 

The collective power of our network was witnessed at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis when eight women’s funds1 in the Asia & Pacific chapter worked closely with their grantee partners to assess and address the pandemic’s impact on the movements they support. Women’s and feminist organizations had to adjust their strategies to a sudden new context of increased women’s burden in childcare, lowered income, food security threats, limited access to health services, and increased gender-based violence. While mobilizing resources in a COVID-19-heavy context required creative and swift action, Prospera’s WFFs facilitated the movement’s work by ensuring grant flexibility, leveraging resources to support one another, raising additional funds collectively, and influencing donors to provide more flexible funding. In total, the eight funds raised USD 2,342,483 in new funding, channeled to grantee partners across 25 Asian and Pacific countries in response to the pandemic. Such a proactive response showcases the ability of women’s funds to act in adapting to changing contexts. 

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the globe, in December 2020, a powerful moment unfolded as Argentina decriminalized abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy. Groups partially funded by Prospera member Fondo de Mujeres del Sur played a pivotal role in this movement, which initiated the Marea Verde (Green Tide) and had a ripple effect in other Latin American countries. Needless to say, regional Prospera’s WFFs2 supported the Marea Verde movement, the decriminalization of abortion, and the networks that provide access to safe abortion in their countries. Another exemplary case in the region unfolded in El Salvador, where about 181 predominantly young and vulnerable women have been prosecuted for abortion and obstetric emergencies, facing up to 30 years or more in prison. In a region where supporting sexual and reproductive rights poses significant risks to the safety and well-being of feminist movements and activists, the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto (Civil Society Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) employed a feminist legal strategy to attain their liberty. Through the “Libertad para las 17” campaign, not only did the feminist group play a pivotal role in securing women’s freedom, marking a total of 73 women released to date, but Lilian, the last of the 17, finally regained her freedom in December 2023.

In the European context, a noteworthy event unfolded in March 2023 involving the Women’s Fund Georgia and the CEECCNA Collaborative Fund as they accompanied and supported a collective effort among philanthropic actors and civil society in Georgia to oppose a proposed draft law known as the ‘Agents of Foreign Influence’ bill, which had been presented to the Georgian parliament. This legislation not only threatened to impose stringent reporting requirements and inspections, putting activists and social society organizations at risk of imprisonment, but it also raised significant concerns about the state of freedom, democracy, and social justice in Georgia. Through a swift and robust mobilization of various movements and widespread protests, the draft legislation was effectively withdrawn just days after its revision, signaling a significant stand against anti-rights and anti-gender ideology. This success is just another example of the power of collective action in safeguarding democracy, civic participation, and social justice. 

Amidst the global spotlight on the 2019 Sudan Uprising, the feminist movement and its supporters, both within and outside Sudan, united in their quest for a peaceful transition from an authoritarian regime and a profoundly patriarchal society. Urgent Action Fund – Africa closely accompanied the activities of women activists in Sudan and collaborated with local women’s groups to document the impact of the protests on the lives of Sudanese women. This included developing a “Policy Brief on Feminist Responses,” offering insights into the politicized feminist analysis of the war. As the ongoing crisis in Sudan intensifies, several women’s funds3 have extended vital assistance to a wide array of women and girls who find themselves at heightened risk. This support is especially crucial for women human rights defenders, individuals living with disabilities, and women engaged in the informal economy.

Prospera celebrates our collective political power, which serves as the bedrock of the feminist funding movement. Women’s and feminist funds stand as trusted partners and essential bridges linking donors with activists. We are catalysts for driving change, effectively translating financial resources and social movement’s work. 

After a decade of advocacy work and resource mobilization, news of reaching the billion mark couldn’t come at a better time now that we have launched our Strategic Framework for the next ten years. This milestone is proof of our collective impact, power, resilience, growth, and potential to do a lot more. 

Here’s to reaching another billion in less time, benefiting more people, and doing so in harmony with our planet!

(1)  Women’s Fund Fiji (formerly Fiji Women’s Fund), HER Fund, Korea Foundation for Women, Mongolian Women’s Fund, South Asia Women Foundation India (SAWF IN), Tewa (Nepal women’s fund), Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Asia, and Pacific, Women’s Fund Asia

(2) Apthapi-Jopueti Bolivian Women’s Fund, Fondo Semillas, ELAS+, Fondo Alquimia, Fondo Lunaria, Urgent Action Fund – Latin America & the Caribbean, Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres – FCAM

(3)   African Women’s Development Fund, Doria Feminist Fund, Urgent Action Fund – Africa and Mediterranean Women’s Fund