WILPF at the “Money and Movements” Convening

Some of the participants of the 2018 Money and Movements Convening in Naivasha, Kenya (Photo: WILPF)

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.”

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