During the first days of July, government officials,activists and civic organizations reconvened at the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) in France. The task: to come up with a renewed action plan to advance the status of girls and women, one to complement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action developed 26 years ago.
The exercise was successful: participants of the GEF came upto a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, with a 5 year goal. But perhaps the most promising result of the summit was that over 40 billion were pledged to gender equality in the next five years.
While this massive monetary vow is vital for achieving gender equality, it gives rise to a query that governments, organizations and activists will need to solve: how to make sure the money gets to where it is needed the most, and how to make sure every dollar is most effectively used to achieve gender equality.
Fortunately, we have some hints of how best can gender equality be achieved. A large-scale study over four decades in 70 countries found that grassroot women’s movements are the single most effective driver of gender equality, surpassing having more women in legislative bodies and increases in national wealth.
Thus, if we want laws and policies that benefit women, weneed stronger women-led organizations and movements, as their advocacy has beencrucial for advancing gender equality. However, money has not been going to them.
A report by AWID indicates less than one percent of all gender-focused aid has been going to women’s rights organizations and institutions. In addition, much of the allocated funding to advance gender equality in the Global South stays in the Global North.
Current models for funding are thus ineffective, and theyreflect a bigger scale problem in which global inequality is reinforced bythose benefited by it. Women and girls in the Global North, thus, end up beingdisproportionately benefited by resources directed to gender equality.
This is why we need to be careful not to be over-optimisticover the fact that 40 billion have been pledged for gender equality. More thanever, we need to be vigilant of how those funds are used, and where are women benefited by them located.
Ideally these funds should be going to where they are neededthe most: women’s movements in rural and poor areas in the Global South, andplaces where violence and anti-women regimes put their lives at risk. Another effective use of funds is to support frontline women that have been coming up with innovative and communal solutions to gender-inequality, even when underfunded.
If we continue the current unproductive practices toallocate money, we will probably reach 2026 with little effect on the status ofwomen in the world, and five less years to come up with solutions to guaranteewomen’s rights.