30 Years After Beijing: Reflecting, Interrogating Funding Landscape for Women Transformation
16 November 2023
Women Fund Tanzania Trust(WFTT) recently organized a two-day discussion forum to reflect and interrogate the funding landscape/infrastructure for gender equality.
The session was held during the 15th gender festival, organized by TGNP and took place from the 7th-10th of November 2023 at the TGNP grounds.
The theme of the dialogue, which attracted more than 150 participants mainly stakeholders on women's Rights, was centered around “30 years after Beijing: Where is the funding for sustainable women's rights organizing and transformation?
Moderated by WFT-T Co-founder Mary Rusimbi, the discussion brought together panelists from various organizations including Francis Kiwanga ( FCS ED), Jane Magigita(Equality for growth ED), Deo Bwire (LSF), Rose Marandu (WFT-T ED), Fredina Said (community rep from Shinyanga) and Elizabeth Mleli an entrepreneur.
The discussion was aimed at reflecting and interrogating the funding landscape/infrastructure for gender equality in general – the opportunities and challenges, building a common understanding on feminist funding eco-system and its role in building resilience and sustainability of WROs at national, regional and global level. It also deliberated on viable strategies to ensure more sustainable funding is channeled towards women movement building in the country.
Opening the discussion, Rusimbi questioned the panel if the resources we get add more to colonial thinking or not because they are accompanied by many conditions or whether it is an agenda problem.
Magigita from Equality for Growth explained that the issue of funding is still a big issue because the past and now are different. She highlighted that in the past, activists worked voluntarily, but in the current environment, no one can run community services without financial support.
“This donor fund is dividing us because we all write and submit proposals to the same donors. When we want to build a women's movement, it becomes difficult due to limited resources,”Italic Magigita added.
On the other hand, Elizabeth Mleli agreed that there is colonialism in funding because donors follow you with their agendas that sometimes do not meet the needs and priorities of communities and they are always changing hence it is other people who are benefiting.
Representing the community, Fredina Said shared that the community sometimes receives funding flexibly, however, there is no direct voice from the community to say that this funding system is not inclusive. She also questioned if the community understands the funding conditions.
On his side, Kiwanga emphasizes that donor funds still have a colonial face and it can increase the burden on the citizens. He advised that it is now necessary for Africa to have one voice on funding issues.
“Through the Africa Philanthropic Network(APN), we have joined hands and come up with an agenda called “Shift The Power” to oppose agendas and solutions from outside being imposed on Africans. We are also making efforts to be able to get meaningful funding that will help to bring about development. Let us be funded while we have our personality,”Italic he said.
Explaining the situation on the ground, Rose Marandu, Director of WFTT said that most of the money is in the hands of the first world. “Major funding comes from powerful countries and large companies in the world (first world) that support organizations as well as funding private organizations. But in that funding, only less than 1% goes to help women, which indicates that the situation is still not good," she explained.
Marandu also added that the funding has restrictions, and does not carry the agenda and the problems of the community since they do not destroy systems, are not inclusive, and promote classes.
Regarding how the private sector can help the liberation of women, Anna Mushi, from IFC said that the private sector by design is profit-driven and not aid providers. She added that over time, they have started to connect business and development, for example, foundations are being established, CRS has started to move in the community. This is an opportunity for WFTT to continue to provide awareness to the private sector about the importance of empowering women.
“To be able to engage with the private sector, you need to understand how the private sector works. The private sector is data-driven, hence studies that are conducted by the CSOs are important, and it is vital to understand the language (insights used by the private sector and market systems),”Italic she said.
During the general discussions, participants advised that the provision of funding/grants should use a bottom-up approach and not top-down as it is currently. They insisted on the need for community needs assessment which will help inform the needs and priorities of the communities. They also suggested that donors set funds for testing different funding models, and a study that will show where the funding is going.
At the end of the discussion, the participants recommended the following: • Conducting a study on where the money for feminist transformation is • Conducting sustainable debates to question enabling funding • Collective efforts to help organizations obtain funding without conditions • Mobilizing the community to be able to critique and question sources of financial resources from local governments, and companies - for the women's development