Fundraising for gender equality and empowerment of women
During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, activists around the world rally together to raise awareness on gender equality, and, more specifically, violence against women and girls; the effects on their victims’ lives; what can be done to protect them; and how to prevent violence. Organisations are involved in different activities, road shows, radio/tv programmes, newspaper supplements, social media, and interaction with the public amongst others to highlight how violence impacts women and girls and the need to end this scourge.
Despite these efforts, violence against women continues 365 days of the year, with one in three women being affected worldwide, according to UNWomen.
The 16 Days campaign is supported by governments and many funding partners as this is an international commemoration, but, beyond the campaign, there is insufficient support for gender equality throughout the year. Speak to any women’s organisation and they will tell you the same story; in comparison to mainstream human rights organisations they are getting a fraction of the funding for their work which focuses on ending gender based violence, empowerment, both economic and political, and achieving gender equality. Granted funding for NGOs in Zimbabwe has decreased, with organisations taking a hard look at themselves and making difficult decisions to streamline their activities and operations or in extreme cases closing shop altogether but it is important to acknowledge that the women’s movement has been hit the hardest.
Is the problem with funding for women’s organisations that they are failing to write winning proposals that highlight the need for gender equality, or is that they are not networking adequately and marketing themselves. I suspect there may be a bigger issue at play? Is patriarchy part of the problem; that gender equality is being paid lip service but no one is serious about it? Is this the common thinking within the donor community and the government? Who are the decision makers in these offices and how does their thinking and views on gender, affect where the money is going?
Gender equality is not just a fundamental human right, but an essential foundation for a peaceful and prosperous nation, and, therefore, it should be included and supported in programming in every sector and every aspect of society. It is important for gender equality to be seen as an integral part of the development of any country, requiring adequate resources; technical, human and financial. Gender training is required in all sectors including funding partners and government, because, without the appreciation of the issues at hand, it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful progress will be made in the near future.
The Millennium Development Goal (3), which was to promote gender equality and empower women, saw milestones being reached. In Zimbabwe our Constitution, enacted in 2013, recognizes gender equality and we now have a Gender Commission, but we are far from gender equality becoming a lived reality. The Gender Commission is not well financed, having received a paltry $100 000, which is grossly insufficient, but, with support from UNWomen, the Commission is trying to find its feet and make an impact. The Constitutional provisions on gender are not being implemented and thus not making a difference to women’s lives. We have now the Sustainable Development Goal (5), which are a continuation of the MDGs, to be achieved by 2030. This is an ambitious goal, but without adequate funding it is inevitable that gender equality will not be realised.
In order to make a difference, organisations working on gender equality have to be creative to ensure that programmes continue as the fight against gender inequality is far from done. Strategic partnerships and innovative ideas must be sort to mobilise funds to develop programmes that empower women and end gender based violence. Governments, development partners, private sector and the general public should all be involved in fundraising for gender equality as the benefits are not only for women but for society as a whole.