What's the Ikea Foundation Doing for Women's Empowerment?

The Ikea Foundation is one of the few major funders that have consistently paid attention to—and provided funding for—the global refugee crisis, which is nowhere near resolved and needs all the funding it can get.

The grant dollars flying out of the Ikea Foundation's coffers toward the crisis is pretty impressive, so far. Among a few of the foundation’s largest gifts: $95 million for refugees in Ethiopia, Sudan and Bangladesh; $70 million to help Somali refugees at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya; and a $42 million grant to support refugee work in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

Then there's the Ikea-backed social enterprise Better Shelter, which has developed flat-pack shelters designed to last a minimum of three years in the harshest conditions and up to 20 years in more temperate climates. The global demand for these shelters has now grown to a point that Better Shelter's supply chain can no longer keep up.

Related: Ikea Foundation Remains Front and Center in Global Refugee Crisis Funding

It's clear that Ikea’s dedication to alleviate the suffering of the world’s ever-growing refugee population is so impressive that it almost overshadows the foundation’s dedication to other causes—like empowering women and girls. And make no mistake: Ikea's giving is pretty substantial here, as well. 

It’s no surprise that, much like in the foundation’s other areas of grantmaking interest, it typically taps on the shoulders of huge INGOs as partners in fighting its mission for the empowerment of women and girls around the globe. We’re talking about partners such as Girls Not Brides, Landesa, Save the Children, and UNICEF. Ikea is following this pattern in its latest €16 million grant toward the fight for gender equality and empowerment.

That huge grant will fund the development a new women’s empowerment partnership, which is being implemented by the United Nations Development Program, as well as the India Development Foundation and the advisory firm Xyntéo. The partnership is set to run for three years with the overall goal of providing “employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to one million underprivileged women across India.”

Upon the announcement of the grant, Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO said: “By empowering women, we can improve children’s health, education and futureand that’s good for everyone in India.”

Related: The Ikea Foundation is Ramping Up

The Ikea Foundation’s program to empower women and girls around the world hits on nearly every smaller facet of the larger issue, including improving access to higher education, developing literacy skills, improving healthcare, and economic security. The foundation is also addressing issues related to changing the way people think about widespread abuses inflicted on women and girls aimed to hold them down like domestic violence and child marriage.

The Ikea Foundation is quickly becoming a global philanthropic force by throwing substantial financial support behind some big global development and humanitarian work while expanding its international presence. We’re continuing to keep a watchful eye on the types of pressing global problems Ikea is getting into. So far, it’s been interesting.