Foundations in Europe can play a much larger role in improving the position of women and girls. This guide reflects on how gender considerations are being addressed in European foundation programmes, processes, and procedures, and it provides a wealth of practical examples and recommendations to inspire other foundations to do so.
Addressing gender throughout your portfolio and organisation: Mainstreaming. One foundation sought to integrate a gender approach throughout several of its programmes in one country: environment, women, housing, child abuse, and human rights. Joint staff visits were made to understand the context from these differing perspectives, a process that resulted in a joint strategy and budget for a new cross-programme initiative applying a gender lens to all of the programme focus areas. To take one example, in the area of housing, staff members identified women’s key concerns and challenges, explored how to build a women’s movement to address housing issues, and worked to ensure that government-sponsored housing schemes were accessible to women. Working in this way ensured that all of the foundation’s programmes were benefiting women and girls.Read More »
Doing gender analysis is not just about improving efficiency and effectiveness, it is also about ensuring that a foundation’s projects and programmes do not end up unintentionally reinforcing stereotypes, attitudes, or practices that can result in discrimination against women, girls, and trans people. Applying a gender lens can expose the extent to which a foundation’s focus issues and programme areas effectively address gender – even issues such as the environment, democracy, civil society, human rights, security, and science, which may not bring gender to mind for everyone. It helps foundations foster consistency across their funding portfolios, ensuring that their work is broadly inclusive of women and girls, while also taking into account the specific needs of men and boys.Read More »
Hasn’t gender equality already been achieved? It’s true that great strides have been made in acknowledging the importance of gender equality, but women, girls, and trans people still regularly confront life-threatening violence, discrimination, and poverty – even in countries with laws that protect women’s rights.Read More »
Foundations have found a combination of two main approaches to be most effective in efforts to promote social inclusion with women and girls in the equation: specific projects and programs supporting women and girls, and integrating gender analysis into all of a foundation’s programs, including its own decision making and organizational culture.Read More »
Bring in gender in the baseline. In order to track change, it is useful to establish a clear starting point. Fundamental baseline information – collected at the individual, rather than the household level – can be relatively easy to gather and is essential to partners’ or grantees’ efforts to reliably monitor and evaluate their work, since it allows them to track progress, accomplishments, delays, and setbacks. You will never be able to understand the full impact of your work if you do not disaggregate information from the very beginning.Read More »
The foundation has been running for over 100 years. It has a long history, and until recently, its board was composed entirely of men. In the 1990s the CEO began to make changes. Today, the board recognises the importance of a gender balance, and has made significant progress in achieving that balance. It accepts that gender issues are important, and has a growing understanding of gender inequality, income inequalities, disability, and the changing landscape of cities worldwide. For a foundation with such a long history and deeprooted traditions, these are big steps.Read More »
The foundation’s health team decided to reflect more deeply about sports and young people. After conducting a contextual analysis, they realised that in certain areas (such as the suburbs of major cities), girls and boys had uneven access to opportunities to practise sports, since most sports associations and organisations are designed for boys, and since teenage girls shoulder a disproportionate share of household responsibilities, leaving them little time for recreation. To address this issue, the foundation organised a special call for proposals on how to improve girls’ access to sports. As a result of the work supported, more girls are practising sports, and many of them are performing better in school as a consequence. Others report that as a result of practising sports, they are more respected by boys in the community, and that they now can do things they would never have done before.Read More »
Naming your commitment. Leadership support allows a foundation to free up internal capacities and creativity and to publicise its interest in gender and in investing in women and girls to potential allies and partners. Some foundations explicitly name their commitment in the form of a policy statement on funding for inclusion – with women and girls in the equation. This can be valuable, even where gender-inclusive funding is quite well integrated in a foundation. Such an explicit, public statement of commitment does not need to be long and complex – it can be rather short and simple.Read More »
Leadership leads to success. Foundation staff keen to promote inclusion and gender sensitivity are making active use of all the entry points listed above. However, the changes they have managed to spark need support from senior management and board members in order to deepen and institutionalise. Support from above helps build an enabling internal and external environment for the promotion of gender equity. “The chair talks about the [women in science] programmes as two of the foundation’s flagship programmes. He makes it explicit that the programmes are highly valued. The programmes have helped raise the foundation’s reputation. The board is the biggest ally.... Also, other staff members see how the topic of these programmes is highly valued – this has an impact.”Read More »
The family and child protection programmes funded by one foundation were initially focused on children, until they learned from research that in order to effectively improve life outcomes for children, they also needed to work with parents and address gender issues.Read More »
Reading the guide can be a starting point to explore how gender analysis can help advance shared goals with colleagues of your network or affinity group.