Donor funding beyond 2015: How Robust and Flexible will it be?
CSW58 New York: ACORD's yesterday's side event entitled ‘Hear the Voices - What African Women and Girls want' was well attended by CSOs, African Gender Commissions, donors and philanthropists. The debate was enriching, refreshing and very bold.
The debate centered on issues ranging from grassroots voices, their views on achievements and challenges of the MDGs for women, strengthening capacities to enhance access and participation of women and girls in the MDGs, lessons for the SDGs from the implementation of the MDGs for women and girls and the support and participation of men in CSW sessions.
ACORD's Executive Director, Mr. Ousainou Ngum, remarked that very few men are in these spaces and wondered what it would take to increase men's participation. "I have been attending CSW now for a few years and in most sessions I am always the only man in the room, lamented Mr. Ngum.
However, what rode the day in the discussions was the issue of funding beyond 2015. What was interesting this time round about ACORD's side event was the composition of the panel. Apart from ACORD itself, the panelists were all from northern governments/donors and northern philanthropists; notably the Dutch and Swiss governments and the Ford Foundation.
ACORD and its CSO partners wanted to know where the funding is and what form it will take post 2015. The donors and CSO partners are well conscious of the current funding landscape and of the fact that funding dynamics might change drastically with the emergence of the new global framework. The Chair of the Gender Commission, Kenya, Ms Winnie Lichuma was very concerned about who should get the funding for the implementation of the new framework. "Where is the balance between funding the duty bearers and the right holders", she asked? ACORD's message was very clear. For CSOs to successfully support women's rights work and women's voices, the funding is very crucial. This was well articulated by ACORD's Head of Policy and Advocacy, Ms Salina Sanou. "ACORD has rolled up its leaves really high in order to reach out to the grassroots in order to bring women's voices to the forefront, but this work needs substantial funding, which is very difficult for a grant-funded organisation like ACORD."
In this event, it was gratifying to hear the donors speak boldly, honestly and with one voice.
All the donors present spoke and agreed on funding structural transformation post 2015. They all agreed that to date funding to partners has been small and short term. Going forward, they all recognize the fact that post 2015, funding must be substantial and long term. According to Ms Irma van Dueren, Head of Gender Division, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "funding is going to be big, flexible and long term. It is important to give partners funding portfolios of up to a maximum of 8 million euros, for period of 4 to 5 years so that they can achieve greater impact". The Dutch government has realized the importance of long term funding and currently it is lobbying other governments, corporations and foundations to team up to jointly provide meaningful and substantial funding to partners, especially to fund gender equality and women rights work.
For Ford Foundation, there is the realization that for greater structural transformation, it is important to increase investment to partners. Donors need to provide investments that are robust and long term, asserted Monica Aleman Cunningham, Ford Foundation's Gender Sexuality and Productive Justice Programme Officer. The Swiss government's emphasis is on funding women's capacity building to allow young women make their voices heard and occupy positions of leadership in their communities. According to Ms Ursula Funk, Senior Advisor at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, capacity building is also crucial for government planners on gender budgeting. Miss Funk concluded that "we must continue to support the voices of African women again and again and we must ensure that governments adopt results based frameworks and that government planners must be gender sensitive".
ACORD was highly commented during this event by Ms Dueren for the exemplary work across Africa on gender equality and women rights issues. ACORD is one of the organizations that we have funded through MDG3 and FLOW grants because of its good work with women in the continent, she said. She was thrilled with the report that ACORD has just published on "African Women and Girls at the Grassroots - Their say on their world post 2015". This report is on women and girls' voices on their aspirations and hopes for the post 2015 framework. The voices were collected through citizens' driven workshops in 13 countries of ACORD's countries of operations.
This report will be launched on March 17, 2014 in a side event co-organized by ACORD, UN Women and World YWCA.