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Democratizing Knowledge on Funding Trends

After a decade of conducting and publishing research on trends affecting funding women’s rights organisations and work, AWID has developed a ‘Do-it-Yourself toolkit”, for adapting the Where is the Money for Women’s Rights (WITM) research methodology to specific locations, constituencies, and issues.

Why counting counts

Control and distribution of resources are inherently political as well as technical, as AWID noted in Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots: The Status of Financing for Women’s Rights Organizing and Gender Equality and previous FundHer reports. Resource accumulation and distribution patterns are clear indicators of who, how, and what counts: even now, with increased rhetoric on women and girls within mainstream development, little funding is directed for transformative, long-term and long-lasting work.

Despite rhetoric that supports equality, funding flows to organizations that challenge the status quo is limited.

(as mentioned in Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots)

AWID’s WITM 2011 global survey revealed a collective income of USD 104 million for 740 women’s rights organisations - compared to the  USD 310 million budget of just one mainstream  international organization – Greenpeace International.

The WITM 2011 global survey revealed that of over 1,000 women’s rights organizations worldwide, 52% have never received multi-year funding and 48% have never received funding for core costs (as mentioned in Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots). The power of data such as this cannot be understated; and evidence like this has allowed a wide range of stakeholders to advocate for more and better quality resources for women’s rights and gender equality.

To date, AWID’s WITM research has been a direct catalyst to increase funding for women’s rights organizing.

WITM research was a driving force behind the Catapult crowdfunding platform, which has raised over $6.5 million USD for women’s rights. WITM research was also cited as a reason for the Dutch Government’s creation of unprecedented MDG 3 Fund of €82 million in 2008. The WITM research has also been the full or partial impetus for the creation of several new funds: FRIDA – The Young Feminist Fund, the Indigenous Women’s Fund, Fundo Elas, the Mediterranean Women’s Fund and the Rita Fund.

After a decade of AWID’s WITM research, AWID now offers the WITM Toolkit – a do-it-yourself guide on adapting AWID’s WITM research methodology. With this toolkit, anyone or any organization conduct funding trends analysis for their specific geographic area or focus issue. The Toolkit serves as a roadmap guiding researchers to clearly define research questions and to practically implement the methodology.

From global to regional and local

While AWID’s globally-focused WITM research plays an important role in advocacy for more and better quality funding, going deeper into specific issues, populations, and geographies will bolster knowledge and advocacy efforts. .

Developing  the WITM Toolkit was driven by requests from women’s rights organizations wanting to adapt WITM methodology and by AWID’s own desire to broaden the pool of organizations producing research on funding trends.

With partners wanting to adapt the WITM methodology, AWID identified a need to dig even deeper, with the research: by populations, regions, and issues.

Examples of how this has worked so far include:

◾️ The Kosova Women’s Network and Alter Habitus – Institute for Studies in Society and Culture who published Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? A Kosovo Case Study in  in November 2013.

◾️ AWID is also currently conducting research on Where is the Money for Indigenous Women’s Rights with International Indigenous Women’s Forum, and International Funders for Indigenous Peoples.

◾️ Other upcoming research includes Where is the Money for Women’s Rights in Brazil? with Fundo Elas and Where is the Money for Young Feminist Organizing with FRIDA: The Young Feminist Fund.

AWID’s WITM research seeks to address both the political and practical aspects of resource mobilization.

The WITM Toolkit is no different as it also reveals the significant resources required to conduct solid quality action-research. As funders increase their emphasis on data, measurement and impact, this toolkit serves to demonstrate that funding cannot just be transactional or instrumentalizing, but instead should support movements’ abilities to reflect and strategize at a collective level. On a practical level, the toolkit can be used to develop proposals for funding, to cover the resources needed to conduct the research and use it as an advocacy tool in the future.

With the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of Agenda 2030, estimated to cost between USD 3.5 to 5.0 trillion per year, it is imperative that feminist and women’s rights movements track, analyse, understand, and expose funding trends on feminist and women’s rights organizing. Feminist and women’s rights organizations are critical to the SDGs success, and organizations can make the case for funding using the WITM Toolkit.

The Toolkit is especially useful, as domestic-level funding for the SDGs is expected to fulfill some of the costs of financing the SDGs, and thisToolkit will help organizations analyze funding trends at a regional and national level.

AWID designed the WITM Toolkit to support women’s movements in effectively  and proactively engaging with the funding trends affecting us all.

At the heart of AWID’s WITM research is its focus on uniting donors and women's rights organizations to increase the quality and quantity of resources available for feminist and women’s rights organizations as a whole, and we hope that this toolkit will serve your organizations and communities similarly.

We hope that by offering this toolkit, based on our decade of experience conducting research and advocacy, activists and organizations can replicate their own specialized research and broaden as well as deepen the knowledge surrounding funding trends for women’s rights organizing.

Explore the WITM Toolkit