Global Fund for Women: Empowering Women and Girls Across the Globe

The Global Fund for Women is a nonprofit grantmaking foundation whose mission is to advance human rights worldwide by investing in women-led organizations and women social entrepreneurs. They rely on an international network of women and men to help mobilize financial resources to support women’s contributions to justice, equality and peace.

What the Global Fund for Women Does

The Global Fund for Women (GFW) promotes women’s economic security, health, education and leadership through their grant making program and by education and outreach initiatives.

Did You Know:

  • Women make up 70% of the world’s poorest of the poor, meaning those who subsist on less than a dollar a day;
  • Nearly two-thirds of the world’s 875 million illiterate adults are women;
  • Only 9% of Afghani girls continue from primary to secondary school.
  • Women make up 51% of the population, but women hold only 14% of parliamentary seats worldwide.

GFW believes that in order to combat these and other statistics, it is necessary to invest in women, giving them the tools they need to elevate themselves out of illiteracy, poverty and ultimately inequality. GFW does this by using a unconventional model of philanthropy, known as social venture philanthropy because of its root in social entrepreneurism, to contribute millions of dollars each year to women entrepreneurs and women-led organizations. Kavita Ramdas, former President and CEO, takes the definition of “entrepreneur” back to its roots in the French language. By putting together “entre” and “prendre” you get an action verb that basically means “to do something.” Combine that with extended network of on the ground activists and you have a recipe for social change that will radiate outward to all sectors of society.

Stories of Success

Because they rely on a social venture model of philanthropy, measuring results quantitatively can be difficult, however, GFW still boasts an enormous number of successes among their grantees.

Femme De Demain (FDD) is a women’s empowerment organization located in Togo, a small country in west Africa. Their initiatives are specifically designed to capture the entrepreneurial spirit of women and to train them in skills necessary for their success. FDD works with women and girls working as street vendors in the informal sector of the economy. Many cannot read or do basic math, so they are subject to fake taxes when they take their goods to market. FDD enrolls these women in school where they learn basic literacy, pricing and accounting skills. To help women weather particularly challenging economic times, FDD teaches other ways they can earn a living.

Ntulume Village Women’s Development Association (NVIWODA) is a women’s economic development association located in the Ntulme Village in Uganda. NVIWODA provides vocational skills training to help women learn a craft and basic business principles to generate an income from that craft. They then help start women off by supporting them with micro-loans. With the help of grants by GFW, NVIWODA have been able to expand beyond the borders of their village to reach women from 27 other community groups. They have even expanded into the realm of social media. You can find them on Facebook, or check out their blog.

How You Can Help

The Global Fund for Women was founded in 1987 by three women who were distressed by the lack of funding available to women’s activists. As a solution to the problem, they created a foundation dedicated entirely to funding women’s activism and women’s social entrepreneurs across the globe. In their first year, GFW gave 8 grants totaling $34,000. In 2010, that number rose to 655 grants totaling over $8.5 million. Since their inception, they have given over $71 million to 3,800 women’s organizations in 167 countries.

The Global Fund for Women is a public foundation, which means every dollar they give is a dollar they earned through fundraising. The easiest way to help is by contributing. You can also join a campaign to raise awareness of the issues, or host a house party among your friends. GFW also has a Shop Your Value program where a few select vendors have pledged to make a contribution each time you purchase one of their products.

You can find the Global Fund for Women on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and by checking out their blog feed.

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