Dreaming of a different world

Issues Affecting Women

2 July 2020

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The Issues Affecting Women Programme’s bold new strategy prioritises work that questions traditional philanthropic dynamics.

While it is tempting to support the vital services needed by women facing violence every day, Oak’s wish as a donor is to balance this need with funding systemic change that protects the fundamental rights of women. We also see the need to strengthen an inclusive women’s movement. Supporting grassroots and young organisations, particularly those led by Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women, is also needed.

In 2018, 12 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 associated themselves with the term “feminist”. By 2019, this figure had risen to 67 per cent.[1] This is the future of feminism and the individuals running these organisations are leaders. It is now time to build on this momentum.

We believe that this strategy will fulfil this vision through flexible, responsive funding that trust women as the experts of their realities in the UK. In the next five years, our grant-making in the UK will be guided by the following core principles:

1.Create a BME Women’s Fund.

A small team of women, led by respected community organiser Marai Larasi, are meeting and thinking with women across the country to design a blueprint for the first ever BME Women’s Fund in the UK. The Issues Affecting Women Programme is sharing the idea with other donors, and advocating for more and better resources to reach BME women service providers, organisers and activists.

2. Work at the intersection of safe housing, service provision and violence response.

A legal defence fund will provide resources for strategic litigation against decisions to cut funding to specialist BME organisations. We will explore how the women’s rights movement can build collective community assets, enabling organisations to present competitive bids and reduce their reliance on statutory funding.

3. Oppose the backlash.

There is an increased global backlash against women’s rights. Civil society needs to be able to expose and oppose narratives of hate and oppression. We will support work that advocates for rights to be upheld through robust strategic communication and legal frameworks.

4. Fund movement-building activities.

Movements are the key to enabling women to enjoy their full and equal human rights. The UK women’s movements have a long history of resistance and we will continue our support to harness this extraordinary energy by funding intersectional movement building and community organising.

The Issues Affecting Women Programme (IAWP) provides flexible, longterm support and capacity development support to women-led, rights-based organisations worldwide. Read more about IAWP’s strategy here.


[1] K. Sophie Will, “Two-thirds of young women in the UK identify as feminists, survey shows”, World Economic Forum, November 20, 2019, https://www. weforum.org/agenda/2019/11/young-women-uk-feminism/ (Accessed 04-02- 2020).

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