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Cultivating Allies to #MoveTheMoney

On 11-13 April 2018, WILPF participated in the Count Me In! Consortium’s “Money and Movements”, to identify opportunities and strategies for creating a transformative funding ecosystem for feminist movement-building as the basis for transformative, political, feminist change.

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WILPF International Secretariat
24 April 2018

WILPF at the “Money and Movements” Convening

On 11-13 April 2018, WILPF participated in the Count Me In! Consortium’s “Money and Movements” workshop in Naivasha, Kenya. Building on our work to #MoveTheMoney from war to gender justice and peace, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Director Abigail Ruane joined over 100 activists and donors from around the world to identify opportunities and strategies for creating a transformative funding ecosystem for feminist movement-building as the basis for transformative, political, feminist change.  

The discussion highlighted how current patriarchal and gendered trends around human bodies; power and governance; peoples; technology; and planet are creating a world where feminist movements are either explicitly under attack or face “pink-washing” and depoliticisation of their radical intent.

Today we live in a world where one percent of the population owns 50 percent of the global wealth ($140 trillion). Global military spending ($1.6 trillion) dwarfs global health ($37.6 billion) and education ($6.8 billion) spending. Meanwhile, although women are leading movements around the world, the global feminist movement has the same budget as one F-35 fighter plane (about $110 million).

Current financial rules of the game are rigged toward patriarchal corporate power and against equality and justice – including development justice, tax justice, and gender justice. Gendered anxieties and systems of control shape financial flows. As a result, these flows create and recreate gendered and racialised systems of exploitation and violence.

Is it possible to effectively fund the feminist movement in a world of patriarchal power?

Asking what is needed to effectively fund the feminist movement within a political economy of discrimination and violence cannot be explored without recognising how that context limits opportunities for mobilising and creating change. As one participant stated, “We don’t need bodyguards. We need communities of care.”

The limits of the current funding landscape constrain our ability to envision alternative feminist futures. They rationalise shoe-string funding for gender equality and feminist movement building. And they perpetuate narratives and political and economic commitments that subordinate women’s leadership and power.  As a result, as another participant noted, “funding feminism is a martial art.”

How can we increase funding for the feminist movement?

Participants at the convening explored how different actors could fit into an ecosystem that funds bold feminist action through differentiated but coordinated roles. Recognising that money is deeply connected to power, participants called for strategic and coordinated action to support short-term practical gender interests to fund the feminist movement, and also long-term gender interest in system change.

WILPF WPS Director Abigail Ruane and AWID Co-Executive Director Hakima Abbas (Photo Credit: Count me In!)

In terms of immediate practical action, one recommendation was to strengthen donors’ reasons to trust women: Despite many funders’ commitment to risk-taking, many donors claim women’s organisations are are too risky to invest in. In response to this obstacle, participants called for action to create alternative and compelling stories about the importance of funding the feminist movement, and how to do so effectively. As one participant stated, “We must shift from funding misery and deficit to funding power and resistance.”

A second recommendation was for donors to build their own capacity and accountability to feminist movements, and work with activists to move toward more sustainable funding models among donor communities. This should include shifting from predominantly short-term project-based funding to long-term, core funding for movements, including addressing fair wages and self-care. As another participant stated, “We will not defend life by offering ours.”

A third recommendation was for feminist groups to strengthen self-sustainability by working to increase self-generated resources beyond traditional grants, such as through membership fees, income generation (including cooperatives), giving circles, crowdfunding, joint fundraising, and diaspora funding.

How can we change systems of finance for structural feminist transformation?

In terms of long-term strategic action, one recommendation was to for funders and activists to work together to strengthen policy coherence around key issues with tensions on women’s rights, such as around military spending, extractive industries, and illicit financial flows. As one participant pointed out, and as WILPF has long recognised in our work to #MoveTheMoney, donors “may fund women’s rights, but may also support business where women lose their lives.”

Creating space to build on leadership such as with Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy and Canada’s Feminist Aid is critical to translating normative support for women’s rights and feminist movement building into longer-term structural change. Cultivating progressive leadership by donor institutions is also critical around structural issues, such as around tax justice, development justice, and shifting priorities to #MoveTheMoney from war to gender justice and peace.

Moving Forward: How can we strengthen alliances for action?

One of the most interesting discussions that came up during the convening was when one participant asked what success looks like for feminist movement building: “What is the finish line?”

As women peace activists have long recognised, peace is not a project: it is a process.

Count Me In! Consortium representatives from Urgent Action Fund Latin America, Mama Cash, CREA, Just Associates (JASS), and AWID share reflections on money and movements on the first day of the workshop (Photo: WILPF)

Feminist peace means creating security that makes a difference for women: peace based on equality, justice, demilitarised security, and nonviolent inclusive social transformation. Feminist peace enables the development of systems where social and political equality and economic justice for all can be attained to ensure real and lasting peace and freedom.

Thinking about a feminist “finish line” can therefore only make sense if it is a framework for ongoing action and transformative system change.

Following up on the “Money and Movements” conference, WILPF will continue to work to raise awareness of the need to #MoveTheMoney from war to gender justice and peace, and to cultivate feminist allies to strengthen action for structural change.

All of us need to do our part.

As WILPF’s WPS Programme Director Abigail Ruane, stated: “We call on donors to commit to being strategic allies in creating a gender power shift. We need political action to scale up support for feminist movement building, and to leverage this leadership for political economies of nonviolence and gender justice.”

Join us! Share our #MoveTheMoney video, messaging, and toolkit.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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