Canberra, Australia – Women’s rights are challenged all over the world, however women living in the Pacific face intersecting challenges that can make them all but invisible to the rest of the world. While globally funders are increasing their investment for gender equality and women’s empowerment, funding disbursements by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD DAC) members have stagnated over recent years in the Pacific. Less than 1% of grant funding is directed to women’s organisations in the Pacific.
In early 2019 the Fiji Women’s Fund (FWF) and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Asia & Pacific (UAF A&P) commissioned a scoping study about the funding realities for women’s organisations in the region.
“The scoping study critically unpacks some important questions, such as who are the funders and recipients in the Pacific, and what are the challenges that community organisations face and recommendations on the way forward. FWF and UAF A&P see this report as a tool for Pacific women to empower themselves to transform the funding landscape in our region,” said Michelle Reddy, FWF Fund Manager.
Co-Lead for UAF A&P Virisila Buadromo added that feminist activism in the Pacific is affected by not just ‘lack of resources’, but also lack of equity. Few grassroots organisations enjoy access to, knowledge of, or skills to develop proposals. Even the opportunity to participate in discussions on what resources and where it should be deployed is the privilege of few.
“Small and unregistered women’s groups or collectives are among the most marginalised. On the other hand, bigger feminist groups often struggle to stay afloat, as it requires continuous mobilising of resources to ensure adequate funding for their programmes and partners. In short, it is an unjust system perpetuated by an unequal playing field,” she said.
Over 40 organisations including funders, financial and business intermediaries, women’s civil society organisations, and Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) were interviewed between February – May 2019 to seek insights into the funding of women’s organisations in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and more broadly across the Pacific.
The study highlights a lack of transparency around funding data especially on gender-equality disaggregated data available on funds disbursed to women’s organisations in the Pacific region in the previous reporting year. This means that funders and women’s organisations often do not have the same information when discussing modalities and funding for gender equality and women’s empowerment activities in the Pacific.
The study also puts forward three key recommendations:
• The establishment of an independent Pacific Feminist Fund that is a conduit for Pacific women’s organisations to secure funding; to broaden the range of funders available; to represent and direct discussions within and outside the region; to amplify voices of organisations, and women and feminist movements in the region; to lead impact investing in women’s rights and gender based work; and to engage with Pacific Leaders, role models, celebrities and philanthropic networks to support Pacific women and girls.
• Improve transparency around funding data for more informed and inclusive dialogue, with a commitment from key funders to publish data annually on the funds directed to the Pacific region, funds directly provided to organisations in the Pacific and the funds reaching DPOs.
• UAF A&P and FWF take the lead organising at least on three events annually that focus on emerging issues in funding.
The study was launched today at the Australasian Aid Conference Preconference event in Australia. FWF an UAF A&P acknowledge the support of the Australian Government, Global Fund for Community Foundations and the Foundation for a Just Society.
The Fiji Women’s Fund (the Fund) is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) Program. The Fund will commit up to AU$10.5 million from 2017 to 2022. It will provide funding and capacity development support to women’s groups, networks, and organisations in Fiji to expand and enhance their work on women’s empowerment and gender equality.
About UAF A&P
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Asia and Pacific, supports the resilience of women and non-binary human rights defenders by strengthening and sustaining webs of security and care. Our strategies are multifaceted and linked to a transformative agenda of achieving social justice, building a solidarity economy and re-imagining cultures, including the culture of giving in Asia and the Pacific.
For more information, contact Fiji Women’s Fund – Communications Officer.
Erica Lee, in Canberra: 041 6217969, on whatsapp: +679 9214638 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org