Anisha Chugh, Women’s Fund Asia
Access to resources has always been a challenge for women’s rights organizations throughout South Asia. The concept of human rights philanthropy, however, has grown more prominent in the past two decades, especially with the formation of many indigenous human rights funds. The creation of such funds challenged the “welfarist approach” of many traditional grantmakers and NGOs and helped to bring focus to the human rights framework.
SAWF believes that mobilization of women is essential for ensuring recognition and exercise of human rights. As women’s rights activists and organizations are crucial to this mobilization, the Fund is committed to supporting these change-makers by working with them to build their leadership and capacity, and to provide critical fiscal and technical support to them.
SAWF is committed to strengthening the women’s movement in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, by ensuring access to resources for women’s groups and individual women working for women’s rights and empowerment.
The strategy of the Fund has two key components: grantmaking to women and women’s groups working toward the advancement of women’s rights; and resource mobilization, to ensure that the women’s movements in the region have sustainable access to resources to undertake their work and address their priorities. Presently, SAWF’s grantmaking is divided into two main programs: the small grants program, to enable women’s groups and women’s activists, especially those working at the grassroots level, to access critical support required for an intervention; and the thematic grants program, which focuses on undertaking work on certain critical themes that require urgent action and support in the region.
The need of the hour for indigenous women’s human rights funds is to support movement-building and mobilization initiatives, especially at the grassroots level. This is essential for ensuring recognition and the exercise of human rights. Hence, the only way to bring about positive change is to ensure that the voices of the historically oppressed are the ones making the demands, leading the movement, and bringing about the change.