Announcing the Renewal of Leading from the South: Five More Years of Funding Feminist Activism and Movement-building in the Global South

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Fondo Mujeres del Sur (FMS), the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI), and Women’s Fund Asia (WFA) are excited to share that the Leading from the South (LFS) initiative, which they collectively conceptualised in 2016 to support feminist activism and movement-building in the Global South, has been renewed for another five years.

A unique partnership model, LFS is a feminist resource alliance that supports feminist activism and lobbying efforts by women, girls, and LBTIQ+ people led organisations, movements, and networks at the regional, national, and grassroots levels in the Global South. Recognising that women, girls, and LBTIQ+ people are best placed to determine ways in which to address injustice and unequal power relations in their own communities, LFS resources and supports those who lead change and transform societies towards the full achievement of gender equality and human rights in the Global South.

In addition to recognising the critical leadership of the South in guiding resources to address the experience of the Global South, it also values the impact of southern feminism in claiming resources on grounds of equality and non-discrimination to ensure LBTIQ+ people and women’s access to and enjoyment of human rights.

In its first phase, LFS was financed through a special grant of  €42 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands over four years. By renewing their financial commitment and increasing it to €80 million over the next five years, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has demonstrated its commitment to leadership from the Global South in addressing women’s rights and gender equality. This strengthened relationship between the Dutch Government and the LFS Consortium also makes a vital contribution to the reframing of bilateral relationships with Southern-led feminist funders.

Leveraging the successes, lessons and reflections of the first phase of LFS, Leading from the South 2.0 will resource and support small, medium, and large feminist organisation in urban, rural, and regional contexts, advocating for the rights of women, girls, and LBTIQ+ people in the Global South.

LFS 2.0 will operate across multiple regions, including Africa and the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean (with each fund determining the appropriate geographical and delivery mechanisms for their region), ensuring  a global focus on the leadership of and advocacy by  women, girls, and LBTIQ+ people.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Women’s Funds members of the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Funds Alliance (LACWFA) carry out the second phase of LFS under a collaborative implementation model, with FMS as lead organisation.

Our present challenges are located in a context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed and accelerated the breakdown of our social institutions. It has disproportionately impacted women, girls and LBTIQ+ people, combined with the shrinking of civic space and rise of regressive governmental and societal forces, has further pushed back progress on gender equality.

The role of feminist and women’s funds has become even more critical in these times. By placing the resources in the hands of feminist leaders from across the Global South, LFS 2.0 contributes to creating an enabling environment that centres ethical leadership, justice, and equality for all.

*This article was first published in Leading from the South website.