NEW YORK — The Fund for Gender Equality has announced grants totalling more than US$27.5 million to recipients in 13 countries, with grant amounts of up to US$3 million each. The Fund for Gender Equality, supported by donations from the Governments of Spain and Norway, is managed by the UN Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM (part of UN Women). The grants fall under the Fund’s Implementation Grant category, which aims to fast track action on national laws and policies to advance gender equality. In December 2009, 27 inaugural Catalytic Grants were also awarded to programmes in 26 countries.
The announcement completes the Fund’s first grantmaking cycle — delivering more than US$37.5 million to 40 innovative programmes, and significantly increasing the financial support available to countries and communities committed to advancing gender equality and women’s economic and political empowerment.
The Fund is a US$68 million multi-donor initiative dedicated to furthering the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the commitment that gender equality and women’s empowerment are goals in their own right and central to all other development goals. The Fund places resources directly in the hands of government and civil society organizations in order to turn gender equality laws and policies at local and national levels into tangible advances for women’s rights. Grantees are selected through a highly competitive process — in total, the Fund received 1,239 applications from 127 countries, which were reviewed by a technical committee of regional and gender equality experts.
“These grants are an important step to address what is now widely acknowledged: that despite commitments to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, there has been consistent under-investment,” said Inés Alberdi, Executive Director of UNIFEM (now part of UN Women). “With only five years left to achieve the MDGs and continuing concerns about the global economic crisis, it is more important than ever to focus funds directly on implementing practical actions that will make a difference in the lives of women and men on the ground.”
The 13 selected grantees will expand diverse and practical strategies and partnerships to advance gender equality, relevant to each national and regional context. For example, programmes will extend land titles and secure tenure for women in Rwanda, improve women’s share and sustainability in markets in Liberia and build leadership among Dalit and other marginalized women to solidify recent economic gains in India.
In Egypt and Brazil, government and civil society will work together to expand women’s livelihood options, domestic workers’ access to social protections and the private sectors’ support of gender-equitable workplaces. In Mexico and China, grantees will aim to increase the number of women in decision-making positions, ensure that women retain public office and set in place mechanisms — from budgets to enforcement measures — that transform political participation into real gains for women.
The programmes supported by the Fund for Gender Equality directly engage the most excluded groups of women, including rural and domestic workers, market women, displaced women, HIV-positive women, and indigenous women. Programmes also actively involve traditional authorities, men and women in public office and parliaments to ensure sustainable development for women and communities across the world.
UNIFEM (part of UN Women) provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war. For more information, visit www.unifem.org.