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From violence to a place of power: a funder convening on movement building to end sexual violence

Partner story

Photo: © Fiksa
Photo caption: left to right – Marais Larasi (Imkaan); Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK); Emma Watson; Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA – The Young Feminist Fund)

The movement to end violence against girls and women is gaining global momentum due to the dynamic and courageous work of grassroots activists, yet their work faces growing threats and needs more support and solidarity from across philanthropy. This was the message of a group of activists, funders, journalists and culture shapers that came together on 10 July 2018 in London, UK. 

Supported by NoVo Foundation, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy and Ariadne, and facilitated by Jude Kelly, the convening set to explore how philanthropy can radically increase its support for the movement to end violence against all girls and women.

Deepening a conversation that began at similar convening of US funders in New York in April, the London convening sought to examine the specific context for work to end sexual violence in the UK and Europe, where growing momentum around #MeToo and other movements is coupled with rising nationalism, austerity politics, the closing of civil society space and assaults on human rights.

All of the panelists described how the current breakthrough in public attention to sexual violence is grounded in decades of work by movement leaders, many of whom are women of colour, whose often unrecognised efforts have made this moment possible.

“It’s essential that we engage with #MeToo, not as something new, but recognise that organising and resistance have always been a fundamental part of the long history of women’s activism,” said Imkaan executive director, Marai Larasi. “We must locate this moment within the generations of work that have come before.”

Deepening philanthropic support

While violence against girls and women is a worldwide pandemic affecting one in three women in their lifetimes, funding in the philanthropic sector for work to end gender-based violence has remained extremely low. (A survey by Ariadne found that the number of foundations that support work to end violence against women in Europe is small, and that funding tends to be at a low level and short-term compared to expressed needs. A study among US Foundations shows that support to end gender-based violence totalled just 1.8 per cent of all foundation giving.)

“Young feminist organising is about holding a line that’s been courageously made by so many others before them, and then advancing that shared agenda in today’s context. Young women, girls, and trans* youth have the curiosity, anger, openness and drive to create lasting change. Their activism might look different from what has been done before, but it deserves flexible, long-term support and trust from across philanthropy.”

– FRIDA co-executive director, Devi Leiper O’Malley.

This work falls under Oak Foundation’s Issues Affecting Women Programme strategy, which you can learn more about here.