Ford Money Goes Out the Door for Women's Rights. But What About the Future?

While the Ford Foundation is in a moment of flux, and its future grantmaking remains unclear, it's been a steady funder in recent years of work to protect women's rights, both in the United States and globally, giving around $10 to $12 million annually in this area. That's a good chunk of money, and women's groups worldwide are no doubt praying that Ford stays the course in this area. Darren Walker's June statement on changes at the foundation did explicitly say that Ford would continue to address gender, but the devil may lie in the details. 

What kinds of things has Ford been funding in this area globally? Well, we looked at some recent grants for protecting women's rights, a number of which were focused on attacking gender inequality in eastern Africa:

  • $100,000 was awarded to Women’s Empowerment Link in Nairobi, Kenya. The grant will launch its National Plan of Action for the Advancement and will work in collaboration with the Kenyan government.
  • $100,000 was awarded to the Tanzania Gatsby Registered Trustees in support of its work expanding the scope of horticulture business models that benefit Women Farmers in Zanzibar.
  • $100,000 was awarded to Hirondelle, USA in support of its Providing Information and Voice for Women project. The grant will help support the project’s radio programming and the training of radio journalists in Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Sierra Leone.
  • $150,000 was awarded to Twaweza Communications for technical support toward building the media capacity for women’s rights and civil society organizations.
  • $138,000 was awarded to the South African based Women’s Legal Centre. The grant will support the center’s ongoing work protecting the rights women and girls regarding early and forced marriages.

Beyond Africa, the largest grant out of this latest round was a $1 million award to the Independent Television Service to support its Women and Girls Lead project that promotes local gender equality and empowerment issues around the world. Ford’s grant will support Women and Girls lead projects in Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

As Ford's planning goes forward, it seems unlikely that it would downsize its work on women's rights in a major way, given all the momentum around this issue right now. But who knows. 

Other notable funders in the continuing fight for global gender equality include the Caterpillar Foundation, which just put in $1 million for its partnership with the U.S. State Department; the Coca-Cola Foundation, which has made a number of recent empowerment and entrepreneurship grants revolving around women; the Western Union Foundation, which recently launched an empowerment project in China; and the Hewlett Foundation, which recently embarked on a new line of grantmaking that geared toward getting a better fix on the economic contribution of women's work in developing countries.

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