Advice from other women's networks for the Women's Donor Network Conference

Jensine Larsen
Posted November 28, 2010 from United States

More advice on our question: What strategies need to be funded to take the global women's movement to the next level?

I had the honor of serving on a panel for the Women's Donor Network Conference with two incredible women who head up two other large networks: Ai-Jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Mahnaz Afkhami of the Women's Learning Partnership.

Both asked women their networks the same question, and here are the fascinating results:


  1. Teach the women to organize, to think and to raise funds
  1. A. Leadership development, especially organizing, political strategizing & communications strategy & skills. B. mobilizing marginalized women -- low- & in-income, immigrant, racial/ethnic/national minority C. building broader progressive coalitions (& relationship to electoral work) to shift power at the national level
  1. community organizing. workers'-immigrant's rights
  1. Womens' economic security- this includes fair and equal wages; workplace protections for all workers, even if they are excluded workers; job training; etc.

  2. Access to affordable health care

  3. Right to organize into bargaining units

  1. Education - its un-original but all the research shows education makes a huge difference in womens' lives. I think there are some great projects in Africa that combine education with work experience and life skills training all at once.
  2. Alternative economic models like micro-lending and co-ops that empower and provide economic opportunities.
  3. Anything that will educate people in the North about life in the South in a reflective way - the impact of climate change, war, free trade, etc. Something that shows interconnectedness and lessons we can learn from others.
  1. Training / education
  2. Just works
  3. Political power

Rights of migrant workers who cross borders - have rights despite going from one country to another. Unity and a strong voice and right to organize


Fund ending violence against women activities. For us, it’s becoming more and more difficult to source funders interested in funding work for violence against women, especially in countries such as Malaysia. Locally, the issue has become ‘mainstream’ i.e. no longer as taboo as it was in 80s when the organisation first started, and therefore, deprioritised. We hv become a ‘victim’ of our own success, you could say. Also, not only do we have to compete with more ‘sexy’ causes such as climate change, governance & democracy etc, but Malaysia at the global level is considered a developed country and thus, we get bypassed in favour of less developed countries. It’s as if only women in conflict areas get raped, and Malaysia with it’s gleaming skyscrapers and shopping malls, women are doing just fine.

I also think that more movement-building activities/exchanges and collaborations that link the South are needed, which again, isn’t high on donor agendas who don’t want to fund “just another meeting”.

  1. Poverty /Economic empowerment
  2. Grassroots level organizing and networking; (grassroots level movement building)
  3. Participation at local governance ,re-shaping the communities, cities Sengul Akcar

1) Strengthening a secular women’s movement: The global women’s movement has recently witnessed a shift towards more “religiously” inspired trends. Religiously inspired movements are also growing partly due to accessibility of funding and resources from multiple sources. As such, secular women’s movement are at a crossroad where there is an urgent need to revise strategy and think creatively about new ways of working which uphold the universality of rights notably women’s rights. In addition, supporting frameworks such as the WLP Partnership is key in furthering collaboration, solidarity and exchange.

2) Furthering women’s public and political participation: All indicators concur to say that women’s public and political participation remains abysmally low despite some progress. However, at this rate of progress, we may need another century or more to reach the 30% quota recommended in the Beijing Platform of Action. There is an urgent need to fund interventions that seek to challenge institutional obstacles to women’s public and political participation. These interventions should address all forms of social institutions beginning with the household and including state institutions. Strengthening women’s leadership, participation and organization skills using methodologies that emphasize democratic, inclusive, horizontal and participatory leadership is primordial in this process.

3) Supporting women’s economic rights, participation and empowerment: Women’s work remains invisible, poorly valued and unaccounted for. As a result, women remain at the margin of the economy. As such, there is a need to support initiatives that seek to re-define women’s economic citizenship and women’s social and economic entitlements particularly within a global context of crisis and where, in most parts of the world, livelihoods have come to depend on various forms of women’s non-stop (but non-recognized) care work.

Comments 1

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Vivian Emesowum
Nov 29, 2010
Nov 29, 2010

Dear Jesine,

What a wonderful advice for all development workers. I quite appreciate this and it indeed make a valued sense. It is so nice of you to share this information with us.

Thank you for sharing.