More Effective Funding: A Guide


Feminist donors and social justice funders who apply a gender lens undoubtedly share as many differences as similarities. What they do have in common is a passion for gender equality and a commitment to seeking systemic solutions that produce sustainable progress. These commonalities spring from a deep appreciation of how gender regimes routinely disempower women and girls across the entire plane of social contact, especially in the classroom, the workplace, and home. Many feminist philanthropists believe empowering women and girls is not just a moral good, but a social good as well, one that can also produce major economic benefits for all. This is a foundational understanding of what makes society more stable, just, and productive.

Given their intimate acquaintance with the gender system and their commitment to equality, it seems surprising that among feminist funders gender remains a contested term, and one often wielded in very limited ways. Donors who say they apply a gender lens usually mean they prioritize giving that maximizes opportunity and funding for women and girls. Yet gender equality is only half of a gender lens. The other half, still overlooked in US philanthropy, concerns gender norms.