In June 2017, the Government of Canada launched the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Program as part of its Feminist International Assistance Policy, to provide women’s rights organizations and networks with direct funding that will help reduce their funding gap and advance gender equality and women’s rights in developing countries.
We are pleased to announce that in the Caribbean, the initiative is being implemented by The MATCH International Women’s Fund (The MATCH Fund), in partnership with The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (Astraea). The MATCH Fund is Canada’s sole global fund for women, girls, and transgender people. This five-year (2019-2024) initiative will be implemented alongside women’s rights organizations and LBTIQ groups investing in their strategies and priorities for change and strengthening the women’s movement as a whole in the Caribbean. The initiative seeks to provide support towards the diverse challenges faced in the region, and towards building sustainable and well-resourced feminist and gender justice movements.
Some of the challenges Caribbean women’s rights organizations and LBTIQ groups face while trying to address critical issues include gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health rights. In most Caribbean countries, poverty is higher among women than men, which is particularly evident among women-headed households. Lesbian, bisexual, and trans* (LBT) women also face significant discrimination and stigma. One of the main challenges faced by many women’s rights and LBTIQ organizations and groups is the lack of predictable funding and reliance on volunteer work.
Photo: Participants at the June 2019 convening map out the state of funding for women’s and LGBTIQ groups in the Caribbean
In June 2019, The MATCH Fund and Astraea co-hosted a two-day consultation meeting in Antigua to kick-off this new partnership. We gathered 25 partners and representatives from women’s organizations and LBTIQ groups from around the region to explore how the WVL – Caribbean project can center and respond to movement priorities in the region, inform the project design, and to examine the funding landscape—as a means to strategize around the long-term sustainability of feminist organizing and movement building in the region.
Some key learnings from the meeting emphasized supporting Caribbean feminist movement building by increasing access to key resources for women’s rights & LBTIQ organizations, supporting regional feminist advocacy networks and alliances, and supporting capacity building opportunities that are grounded in the movement’s priorities.
Photo: Notes from the June 2019 convening in Antigua
To date, Astraea has granted nearly $1M over almost 20 years of funding in the Caribbean. We are one of only a few progressive funders working in the region, and the only foundation that offers core support for Caribbean grassroots LGBTIQ organizing.
We are thrilled to be strategizing with The MATCH Fund and feminist Caribbean networks to build power for LBTIQ and women’s rights groups in the region!