Leading from the South (LFS) is a feminist initiative created to support and fund activism for the rights of women, girls and LBTIQ+ people in the Global South implemented in its entirety by women's funds and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
In the Global South, the programme is implemented by a consortium of 4 women's funds: Fondo de Mujeres del Sur (Women’s Fund from the South) (FMS), African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Women’s Fund Asia (AWF) and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF). In Latin America and the Caribbean, the feminist and women's funds that make up the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Funds Alliance are implementing the second phase of this joint initiative that is coordinated by FMS.
During the first phase of the programme (2017-2020) in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 50 initiatives from organisations and networks of women and LBTIQ+ people were supported, covering a total of 161 grassroots, mid-sized and large organisations from 22 countries in the region. These organisations and networks were selected from two calls for proposals, in which more than 1,500 proposals were submitted in total, showing the level of demand for financing and the robustness of feminist activism in the region.
The new cycle of Leading from the South (2021-2025) builds on the successful results obtained during the first phase of implementation. The achievements include strengthening organisational capacities and links between human rights, feminist and LBTIQ+ activists, organisations and movements to be strong voices influencing gender equality, social and environmental justice and human rights at multiple levels.
In order to leverage the results, learnings and reflections from the first phase, Leading from the South now provide resources and support to small grassroots, mid-sized and large women's and feminist organisations that work in urban, rural and regional contexts to promote the rights of women, girls and LBTIQ+ people.
The current challenges revolve around the context and consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exposed and accelerated the breakdown of our social institutions, highlighting and deepening social inequalities and injustices with the consequent increase in the precariousness and vulnerability in which feminist activists and their movements find themselves. It has had a disproportionate impact on women, girls and LBTIQ+ people and has further set back progress in terms of gender equality as it has been accompanied by a reduction in citizen participation spaces and the rise of conservative governments and social forces.
The role of feminist and women's funds has become even more relevant in these times. By supporting and strengthening feminist activisms in the Global South, Leading from the South contributes to creating an environment conducive to feminist leadership, justice and equality for all people.