“From Violence to a Place of Power: A Funder Convening on Movement Building to End Sexual Violence”

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On July 10, a London convening examined a specific context “From Violence to a Place of Power: A Funder Convening on Movement Building to End Sexual Violence“, organised and celebrated by NoVo Foundation, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy and Ariadne.

Jude Kelly facilitated the discussion to explore how philanthropy can radically increase its support for the movement to end violence against all girls and women.

The movement is in fact gaining global momentum due to the dynamic and courageous work of grassroots activists, yet their work faces growing threats and needs more support and solidarity from across philanthropy, a day-long convening of activists, funders, journalists and culture shapers said in London on 10 July 2018.

The initiative was a follow up to the similar convening of U.S. funders in New York in April, to further examine the specific context for work to end sexual violence in the UK and Europe, where growing momentum around #MeToo and other movements is coupled with rising nationalism, austerity politics, the closing of civil society space and assaults on human rights.

Emma Watson – actor and activist – chaired the opening session of the day—an intergenerational conversation among activists Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK), Marai Larasi (Imkaan), and Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA–The Young Feminist Fund). The panelists outlined the pivotal role of movement building and feminist organizing in ending violence against girls and women, as well as the urgent need for many more funders and donors from across the philanthropic sector to trust movement leaders and provide long-term, flexible support to sustain their work.

Responding to research across seventy countries that concluded that women’s movements were the key factor in determining policy change, Emma Watson said,

“This makes it all the more shocking that a survey of European foundations found that less than 5 percent of funds were targeted towards girls and women. I think supporting girls and women’s organisations is the greatest hope we have for worldwide transformative change – and my philanthropic choices are grounded in that belief.”

She currently supports more than thirty organisations in the equality and women’s rights movements in the UK and globally, and has donated $5 million USD to these causes over the past 12 months alone. £1 million GBP of this was to the Justice and Equality Fund, which was catalyzed by the UK TIME’S UP movement and is hosted by Rosa, the UK’s leading women’s fund.

“Long-term partnerships, rather than funding against short-term results, are absolutely critical,” she added. “Without flexible, core funding, activists don’t have the room and space they need to be innovative and create long-term change.”

All of the panelists described how the current breakthrough in public attention to sexual violence is grounded in decades of work by movement leaders, many of whom are women of color, whose often unrecognized efforts have made this moment possible.

The intergenerational discussion also highlighted the critical importance of elevating girls’ voices and girl-led organizations as a central part of any response to gender-based violence, and to creating space for new ideas and energy.

“Young feminist organizing is about holding a line that’s been courageously made by so many others before them, and then advancing that shared agenda in today’s context,” said Devi Leiper O’Malley. “Young women, girls, and trans*youth have the curiosity, anger, openness and drive to create lasting change. Their activism might look different from what has been done before, but it deserves flexible, long-term support and trust from across philanthropy.”

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