We, the members of the Count Me In! Consortium (CMI![i]), applaud the European Commission’s investment of EUR 500 Million to the United Nations for women’s rights and ending violence against women. At a time when closing civic spaces increasingly constrict and threaten women’s rights, these funds are highly promising.
The members of CMI! encourage the Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development and the United Nations to build on best practices for propelling women’s rights globally.
We recommend the following:
1. Ensure strong representation and participation from women’s and feminist movements.
Women’s movements around the world have been at the forefront of ending violence against women, advancing women’s participation on local, national and global levels and securing relevant legislation and policy for gender equality. Women’s movements should play a central role in helping define, implement and track the programme(s) established through these funds.
- Establish and widely publicise a transparent process for civil society consultation, especially the participation of women’s and feminist organisations, including in the immediate development phase and for ongoing and regular contributions;
- Commit to at least 20% representation from among women’s movements on any formal governing body (e.g. steering committee).
2. Allocate a significant portion of funding for women’s organisations.
The impact of directly funding these organisations is well documented. Within a diverse civil society landscape, any programmatic approach should prioritise resources for feminist and women-led organising to advance context-specific strategies toward ending violence against women and girls.
- Undertake an open, competitive and transparent grant process to deliver funds, following best practices in women’s rights philanthropy and development funding, including ensuring accessibility to smaller women’s organisations;
- Ensure that any technical review committee includes women’s movement representation from relevant countries and regions;
- Lead efforts to mobilise resources from actors not currently investing in the field and avoid competing for resources that already reach feminist and women's rights groups on the ground.
3. Do not create a new funding mechanism,
when effective mechanisms, such as the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, already exist. Instead, strengthen existing infrastructure and leverage lessons learned from current UN funds such as the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and the Fund for Gender Equality, as well as from bilateral funds such as the Dutch MDG3 and FLOW Funds.
4. Strengthen existing gender entities at the UN.
Funding of this magnitude should contribute to entities with core missions related to women’s rights and empowerment, especially UN Women. We see this as an opportunity to strengthen these entities’ impact and accountability to women’s movements.
5. Draw on existing analysis and evidence.
Ample research examines the opportunities for and challenges of funding practices to advance gender equality, including strategies to end violence against women. For instance, AWID’s research analyses trends in bilateral and multilateral funding of women’s rights. We strongly recommend that the EC and UN conduct a scoping of such research to avoid past mistakes and set the stage for this programme to have greatest impact.
[i] Count Me In! (CMI!) is a consortium of women’s rights funds and organisations and consists of the following members: the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Creating Resources for Empowerment and Action (CREA), Just Associates (JASS), Mama Cash and Urgent Action Funds (Urgent Action Fund-Africa, Urgent Action Fund-Latin America, and Urgent Action Fund). CMI! aims to contribute to a safe and inclusive enabling environment for women’s rights organisations, movements and women human rights defenders (WHRDs). The Consortium is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and includes WO=MEN as a lobbying partner.