To my feminist siblings, there is a funding crisis in feminist activism

02 May 2024


Olabukunola “Buky” Williams, the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Lead at Akina Mama Wa Afrika and a #ShiftThePower Fellow

Dear feminist sibling,

How are you today? How do you keep the feminist fire burning as we deal with the poly-crises and constant reminders that our lives do not matter?  Can you believe we survived a pandemic, and the shifts were not seismic? How do you keep hope alive? So many truths were revealed to us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Truth we already knew from previous epidemics, conflicts, genocides and other crises, including on resourcing movements and our civic work.

Our elders and contemporaries have theorized about power and given us the tools to unpack power. The time has come to do the same with money and how it upholds power and privilege – in this letter, I wish to discuss money. As activists, feminists, African women and gender-expansive persons, discussing money can often seem uncouth or beyond our “scope of work.” Thanks to those who refused to listen and have tirelessly followed the money, we continue to learn that financing of the struggle remains one of the biggest challenges of our time. We found out before the pandemic that “women’s rights organizations receive less than 1% of aid focused on gender equality in particular women’s rights and feminist organizations in global majority world while doing the actual work to advance women’s rights and gender equality.” This has been proven extensively with research by AWID, Black Feminist Fund, FRIDA, and Mama Cash, to name a few.

They provided evidence, you know, “receipts”, on how our activism and labour as feminists and activists is unvalued the same way care work is. Our collective work diagnoses, unearths, unmasks, reveals, heals and repairs. So we do the care work that feminist economists (remember this statement by African Feminists) have shown transforms our communities. Without collective care work, there would be no sustained struggle. I digress, but as I read the #ShiftThePower movement report Too Southern To Be Funded, it showed me that the promised Global North donor resources are mainly limited to civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Global North. 90% of all OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries’ civil society support goes to CSOs in their own countries and other Global North CSOs, while less than 10% goes to CSOs in partner countries in the Global Majority. A friend told me that in a consortium they are part of, only 17% of the money available is granted to Global Majority Partners; the rest is held by their partners based in the Global Minority. And yes, most of the work is implemented in the Global Majority world.


This is an excerpt of a blog written by Olabukunola “Buky” Williams, the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Lead at Akina Mama Wa Afrika and a #ShiftThePower Fellow. To read the piece in its entirety, head to the #ShiftThePower Treehouse.

Read the #TooSouthernToBeFunded report and add your signature to the open letter to the OECD DAC

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