Leaders Launch New $1bn Gender Fund to Advance Global Equality and Women's Leadership

Today, Co-Impact is proud to officially launch its second fund, the Gender Fund, and share the growing pool of partners, funders and advisors coming together to advance the organization's model of collaborative giving for systems change.

The Gender Fund, aiming to raise US $1bn to advance gender equality and women's leadership, unites philanthropists, foundations, locally-rooted program partners, advisors and private sectors from around the world. 

The distinct potential of the Gender Fund comes from the diversity, leadership and collaboration between supporters, including Cartier Philanthropy, the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation, MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, Melinda French Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Thankyou Charitable Trust, Target Foundation, Tsitsi Masiyiwa/ Delta Philanthropies, and others. 

The Fund, run by Co-Impact, will benefit from a world-class Advisory Group - experts in women's rights, finance, social change and advocacy including Anita Zaidi, Crystal Simeoni, Elizabeth Yee, Lakshmi Sundaram, Mabel van Oranje, Rebeca Gyumi, Tara Abrahams, Theo Sowa, Vidya Shah and Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg. 

While funding for gender equality has been rising over the last decade, only 1% of that funding has reached women's organizations. The Gender Fund will bring significant resources into a grossly underfunded space and address "gendered systems" - the underlying norms, laws, practices, sanctions, and decision-making processes that lead to systematic barriers and persistent discrimination against women and girls.  

The Gender Fund will unblock pathways for women and girls to exercise their power, agency and leadership at all levels - from household and community to institutions and government. It will fund locally-rooted partners to ensure that health, education, and economic systems work and are accountable to those they are intended to serve.      

The urgency for this Fund is more significant than ever as the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the deep realities of gender inequality and discrimination in our systems, institutions, and societies. Women continue to face entrenched barriers such as violence, restricted reproductive rights, workforce discrimination, and unequal representation in leadership.  

Commenting on the launch of the Fund, Olivia Leland, Founder and CEO of Co-Impact, said:  

"To make progress on gender equality, we need systemic change in the structures, laws, and policies and processes of government, in how markets function, and how social norms are shaped and enforced. 

"The mission of the Gender Fund is to deliver on the ambition of a world where systems and societies are just and inclusive, and where all women have the opportunity to exercise power, agency, and leadership at all levels." 

The Gender Fund aims to raise and grant US $1 billion over the next decade to provide predominantly women-led, locally-rooted organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America with large, long-term, and flexible funding. To date, financial contributions to the Fund have totalled over US $320 million, and grantmaking across the three regions is already underway. 

Melinda French Gates, global advocate for women and girls and the Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: 

"By partnering with Co-Impact, we're able to identify programs that address the barriers, blocking women from reaching their full potential as leaders. 

"We need change to happen at every level of society. And it starts with opening more doors for women to step into their power and craft policies that lift others up like them. This is our once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild our systems to finally work for women and girls."

Co-Impact is committed to increasing the overall funding being directed to advancing gender equality. Working collaboratively with women's rights and grassroots organizations, feminist networks and funders is key to breaking down power dynamics and advancing gender equality. Co-Impact will provide at least 10% of the funds raised to feminist and women's rights groups and movements. 

Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Co-Founder of Delta Philanthropies and Higherlife Foundation, said: 

"There is no 'one' intervention, organization, or solution that can address every single barrier that is preventing women from living equitable and fulfilling lives. 

"Gender inequality exists and manifests differently in every country, sector, and society around the world. The idea is that each component of the wider ecosystem has its part to play and is therefore eligible for Gender Fund support." 

A range of grants are available for a broad ecosystem of actors working to advance gender equality and women's leadership through tangible actions. Co-Impact will also support organizations to generate, curate and disseminate research and learning on how to advance gender equality. 

The Fund began sourcing and awarding an initial set of 15 grants for initiatives addressing major barriers to gender equality. These include gender-based violence, maternal health, gender-inclusive education and women's leadership across the three regions. 

Over the next decade, Co-Impact aims to grow the Gender Fund and support initiatives in 13 focus countries, including India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico.

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Renee Olende 


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Source: Co-Impact