Women’s Fund Asia invests in research when it feels there is a gap in information available, primarily in issues related to Influencing Philanthropy and Resource Mobilisation. We will now be publishing as Women’s Fund Asia from 2017-18.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed - and continues to change - political landscapes and, in turn, the focus and priorities of feminist movements in known and unknown ways. The crises resulting from the pandemic continue to have significant and disproportionate impacts on women-, girls-, trans-, and intersex-led groups and the communities they serve, exacerbating existing structural and power inequalities within Asian societies.
This advocacy brief provides a summary of how the Kaagapay Fund to Support Feminist Resilience in the face of COVID-19 responded to the pandemic and the crises that bore from it through flexible and immediate funding. It also outlines the lessons learned from how it supported grantee partners to rebuild and sustain feminist movements while creating a blueprint for WFA to respond to future crises.
WFA held its first ever Disability Rights Convening (DRC) from 6 to 8 February 2020 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The DRC was a constituency-based convening that brought together 28 women and trans led disability rights groups and activists from eight countries in Asia to map, co-learn, reflect, and re-energise. Centred on the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us,” the event led by disability rights activists from the region. The participating activists shared their experiences, organising strategies and laid out future aspirations for women and trans led disability rights movements.
The key themes and recommendations from the convening are presented in this report. It also includes a checklist for funding organisations, derived from discussions with the participants who actively provided suggestions and demands for funders to improve their support to the rights of women and trans people with disabilities.
Resourcing Strengthening of Feminist Movements in Asia and the Pacific: A Feminist Funding Manifesto
The first edition in a unique convergence, Revolutionising Philanthropy was organised to facilitate a shared vision for feminist funding that is flexible and transformative in the Asia and the Pacific region. The Convergence was organised by eight members of Prospera - The International Network of Women's Funds from the Asia & Pacific region. In late September 2019, almost 130 activists, funders, and other allies committed to the realisation of women, girls, and trans* human rights in the region gathered in safe and political space for open and dynamic discussions. Here are the six most important highlights spanning the three days, assembled as a manifesto for feminist funding.
Gender and the Right to Mobility in South Asia: Changing the Discourse around Rights to Movement, Livelihood and Decision Making for Women and Sexual Minorities
As part of SAWF's thematic Grant-making on Right to Safe and Secure Mobility, this new study focuses on South Asia as source, transit and destination for women who migrate for employment. In context of current migration patterns, this study identifies and analyzes sociopolitical restrictions on women's mobility; and highlights local, national and regional feminist perspectives, strategies and approaches to promote mobility, work and freedom from violence at all stages of migration. The strategies and tactics discussed in this report expands current discourses on migrant rights and provide insight that can inform local, national and regional policies and programmes to promote migrant rights.
As part of our thematic Grant-making on Right to Safe and Secure Movement, SAWF undertook an analytical assessment of relevant legal policies and provisions on trafficking of women in the national legal frameworks of Sri Lanka. This report examines legislations and judicial processes that have been created to provide justice for trafficking survivors in the country, and analyses their strengths and challenges.
Moving Women: A Critical Overview of International and Regional Normative Standards and Frameworks in Trafficking of Women in Bangladesh, India and Nepal
As part of our thematic Grant-making on Right to Safe and Secure Movement, SAWF undertook an analytical assessment of relevant legal policies and provisions in the national legal frameworks of Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The report examines legislations and judicial processes that have been created to provide justice for trafficking survivors, and analyses their strengths and challenge. It also critically examines some of the judgments in this area that have interpreted the laws relating to trafficking. It identifies concerns that are common to the three countries and examines issues that have cross-border dimensions and are sensitive in nature, which makes them harder to address adequately at the country level, making them better suited for a regional analysis. Finally, it provides certain recommendations (regional and country specific) on the basis of the above work, to enable advocacy for legal and policy framework at the national level and at the regional level.
As part of the resource mapping initiative, and to understand the role that could possibly be played by indigenous givers, SAWF also undertook a regional review of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scenario, through secondary literature review. This review aimed at building an understanding of CSR initiatives and assesses the position of women’s rights concerns in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Aptly named "In the Making", the review drew attention to the amount of ground still to be covered by the corporates in the region, and the need for philanthropic institutions to engage with them, to ensure that the CSR and the arm’s length giving serves the women's rights agendas. While women’s rights require a greater focus and thrust within the CSR policies of various Corporations, more opportunities are now emerging for collaborating on this issue in the region, between Corporations and NGOS.
Rights, Shares and Claims: Realising Women’s Rights in South Asia Working Paper: Resource Mapping for Women’s Human Rights Work in Sri Lanka
Majority of Sri Lanka's aid (to the tune of roughly 80%) has been in the form of either bilateral or multilateral aid, with the major donors being Japan, ADB and the World Bank. There was widespread consensus across the board, that funding opportunities are largely limited for smaller regional organisations, unless they work in tandem with bigger national NGOs. There are several women's rights organisations that are working with communities or on issues that are not considered mainstream and therefore, go unnoticed and unfunded. Moreover, several multilateral funders prefer to work either through the government or a consortium of organisations. This leads to little funds trickling down to smaller organisations with limited focus and ambit of operations.
Rights, Shares and Claims: Realising Women’s Rights in South Asia
Working Paper: Resource Mapping for Women’s Human Rights Work in Pakistan
The study indicates that there are a significant number of NGOs working on women issues in the country. However, the majority has an omni-focused approach – of working with the entire community, rather than exclusively with women issues. Fund raising was a prime concern for majority of the organisations, especially due to the changing funding environment. The limited donor engagement with NGOs working on women issues, especially those at the local level, is the biggest challenge to carrying forward work on women issues. There is a visible change in the last two to three years in the international donors’ approach and strategy towards Pakistan, which could also be a reflection of global trends. Although, there is continuing aid flow for women’s development and human rights in the country, there has been a palpable shift in the donors funding trends towards the NGOs and private sector at large. Donors are shifting focus to more consolidated efforts, to avoid overlap with growing concerns about performance-based output and accountability.
Rights, Shares and Claims: Realising Women’s Rights in South Asia Working Paper: Resource Mapping for Women’s Human Rights Work in Nepal
Of the over 30,000 NGOs registered in the country, less than 10 per cent are classified as working on women's issues. Of the 123 INGOs registered in the country, only 10 are specifically supporting work on women's rights. INGOs and donors are the primary source of funding for work related to women's human rights being promoted by non-state actors. Funding for women's rights-related work is not declining as such, but the funding priorities, patterns and mechanisms are skewed. Also, recent focus on 'outcomes' and 'results' has led to quantitative focus of interventions rather than qualitative. Not all women's organisations and groups face similar challenges and obstacles. In general, large organisations (with large budgets), based out of the capital city, with highly trained staff and capacities in writing good quality proposals in English seem to have an advantage over smaller organisations based outside of the centre.
Rights, Shares and Claims: Realising Women’s Rights in South Asia Working Paper: Resource Mapping for Women’s Human Rights Work in India
Leading activists, researchers and feminist scholars working on women's rights in India are of the view that resources for women's rights work are on the wane. One of the obvious reasons is the withdrawal of funds by progressive donors, as well as the re-positioning of portfolios by several donors. Many new donors have also captured women's rights within a very narrow and limited definition of violence against women, HIV or trafficking etc., with women's rights being reduced to a small piece within the larger gamut of human rights work, making the struggle for funds more difficult. Findings from the survey reveal that the issues for which funding is most difficult to obtain are infrastructure, salaries, VAW, capacity building of women's groups, equipment, administrative costs, and honorariums.
Rights, Shares and Claims: Realising Women’s Rights in South Asia Donor and Resource Mapping for Promoting Women’s Human Rights in Bangladesh
The post-independence era in Bangladesh, beginning in the early seventies, gave rise to international aid received, in funds, commodity and human resources by CSOs in the country. Bangladesh receives aid from both, multilaterals and bilateral sources. Taking into account the information given by the respondent organisations and key informants, VAW and gender justice, trafficking, political participation, legal services/intervention, sexuality and sexual rights, reproductive health, governance and infrastructure, along with overhead costs for the organisation programmes, are the most under-funded sections of women's rights work. Moreover, the structure and relationships that exist between the donors and the agencies that implement and monitor aid disbursement and programme management complicate the situation further.
Women’s human rights have been historically under-resourced and unsupported sites of work in the social justice sector. This trend of limited support to women’s rights is reflected in South Asia, in terms of indigenous giving as well as in giving by traditional donors. Between August 2011 and April 2012, SAWF undertook a regional study to map resources for women’s rights work in the region. The study which was released in 2012, involved 338 organisations (women’s organisations and organisations working with women), 46 leading activists, researchers and academics and 38 donor organisations spread across Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The study highlighted some disturbing fact regarding current donor trends and allocation of resources for women rights in the region. Click here to read the summary of the regional report.