Investing in women

A gender-neutral approach to grantmaking does not necessarily result in equal outcomes for women and girls and men and boys. Policies and programs can have a different impact on women and men. Equitable grantmaking can mean treating people differently to accommodate their differences.

Why should funders support women and girls?

  • Research has found that mainstream programs generally under-serve women.
  • A gender-neutral approach can result in women and children missing out.
  • When gender is not considered, there is a risk that gender assumptions slip into programs.
  • Inequitable programs are often less effective.
  • Helping women has a flow-on effect, benefiting society as a whole.

What is equitable grantmaking?

Equitable grantmaking:

  • does not favour women over men
  • does not compromise funding based on merit
  • acknowledges that men and women have different social positions, skills, opportunities and resources and face different challenges
  • acknowledges that programs and policies can affect men and women in vastly different ways
  • is about making the best use of dollars spent
  • ultimately increases opportunities for long-term change for everyone, including women and girls.

How do we introduce a "gender lens" to our program?

  • Ask yourself:
    • Is gender equality an existing priority within our organisation?
    • Does our funding purposely seek to enhance gender equality, and is this reflected in our mission, vision and strategy?
    • Which of our funded programs over the past two years best illustrates our organisation's awareness of gender?
    • How has gender awareness translated into project design, implementation and outcomes?
    • Can we think of any examples where increased gender awareness might have led to stronger outcomes from a past project?
  • Find a cause. Consider a critical issue affecting women and girls, and seek to fund projects and programs to effect change in that area. Possibilities include access to education or healthcare for women and girls; women and girls who are homeless or living in poverty; domestic violence; human rights; women having a voice in the arts.
  • Encourage grantseekers to apply a gender lens to all aspects of their projects.
  • Review your application forms, application processes, decision-making structure, and monitoring and evaluation policies to address gender issues.
  • Examine your gender balance: promote diversity within your organisation's leadership.

How do we improve our existing equity efforts?

  • Critically appraise proposals:
    • Does the project reflect the needs of women and girls in all its main aspects?
    • Can women and girls enjoy real and effective involvement?
    • Are the needs of women and girls safeguarded in practical ways?
    • What are the expected outcomes for women and girls? Are they likely to be lasting, as opposed to short-lived?
    • Will the outcomes be communicated beyond the project to strengthen advocacy and policy development elsewhere?
    • Will the project outcomes be conveyed to others in the philanthropic sector?
  • Speak with stakeholders about the importance of including women and girls in programs.
  • Write women into design, targets and measurement:
    • Does the project have clear aims and targets for men and boys? For women and girls? For both?
    • Does the project consciously reflect and take account of any differences in the needs, interests and circumstances of men and women?
    • Are women and men represented satisfactorily on the project management and governance group?
    • Does the "culture" of the project encourage both men and women to voice their opinions?
    • How will you ensure accountability when reporting on outcomes and impacts?
    • What are the intended impacts and outcomes for the people involved? Do they differ for different groups?
  • Consider how other social factors intersect with gender in relation to the programs you consider funding. These factors include age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and sexuality.

This advice is taken from a guide published by Australians Investing in Women: Gender-Wise Philanthropy: Strengthening Society by Investing in Women and Girls