Public funds available for gender equality projects remain highly limited and volatile. This not only undermines the effectiveness of aid but also the ability of grassroots organizations to act. When organizations struggle to secure funding, their efforts to build a fairer and more equitable world suffer. To initiate real structural changes, it is urgent to directly fund feminist organizations and women’s rights defenders adequately.

Photo Credit: Tineke Dhaese, Oxfam-Belgium


In 2021, the European Union’s official development assistance (ODA) exceeded 70 billion euros (corresponding to 0.49% of the gross national income of the 27 member states). The EU is the world’s biggest donor, accounting for 43% of global ODA. 

The EU’s influence is considerable! However, women’s rights organizations remain underfunded. In 2019 and 2020, only 0.5% of aid from European institutions dedicated to gender equality was allocated to them.

A 2020 assessment by the European Commission suggests exploring inclusive and feminist funding modalities. For example, encouraging the creation of equitable partnerships with local organizations and giving them real decision-making power. This includes direct funding adapted to their needs.

According to a study by AWID, only 50% of women’s rights organizations have access to core funding or are assured of obtaining it the following year. Securing flexible, multi-year funding would give them greater leeway for action on the ground.  Feminist organizations are the most effective actors in promoting and defending the rights of women and LGBTQ+ individuals. The resources available to them should reflect their diversity, significance, and innovation!


Over the past decade, six European countries have declared their foreign policies to be “feminist.” After Sweden paved the way, Luxembourg and France followed suit, followed by Spain, Germany, and most recently, the Netherlands. These countries have made commitments and prioritized gender equality in their foreign policies. They must now position themselves as figureheads within the European institutions and drive the implementation of an ambitious European foreign policy in this field. This should include the creation of a fund to support feminist organizations. 

💡Funds that favor direct funding already exist! The Support Fund for Feminist Organizations created by the French government in 2019 is an example that can be replicated on a European scale.

Such a fund could prove to be an effective measure to foster the structural changes necessary for genuine gender equality and counter the rise of conservative movements.

“The EU is becoming more and more divided, paralyzed, and polarized around gender issues, with states such as Hungary or Poland becoming increasingly resistant and regressive on women’s, girls’, and gender minorities’ rights.” Excerpt from Coordination Sud’s article, “For a real feminist foreign policy for Europe and its member states”. 

Recent research demonstrates that this trend attracts significant funding flows: hundreds of millions of euros are mobilized by a whole ecosystem of conservative and anti-rights actors to oppose all progressive advances. Financial resources exist! Their allocation, however, is an urgent issue that the European Union must address.


The European Union has developed three major strategies aimed at integrating gender into all its policies. The European Gender Equality Strategy (2020-2025) sets objectives such as eliminating violence and sexist stereotypes and ensuring better representation in decision-making processes. The 3rd Gender Equality Action Plan (GAP III), enacted in 2020 and adopted by most Member States, emphasizes gender equality as a prerequisite for conflict prevention and resolution. Finally, the EU Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (2019-2024) aims to implement the Women, Peace, and Security approach holistically.