“It is absolutely essential that we recognize our interconnectedness as we grapple with the difficult challenges sweeping the planet…the problems we face today will not be solved by governments alone. It will be in partnerships – partnerships with philanthropy, with global business, partnerships with civil society.” --Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls is a State Department-led privately-funded initiative committed to providing flexible, rapid, targeted, and high-impact grants to nongovernmental organizations working to meet the critical needs of women and girls around the world. The State Department is committed to advancing the rights of women and girls as a central focus of U.S. foreign policy interests, in partnership with the private and nonprofit sectors.
WHY WOMEN? WHY NOW?
The major security, governance, environmental, and economic challenges of our times cannot be solved without the participation of women at all levels of society. There is a growing body of research from corporations, institutions, and foundations that correlates favorable outcomes in poverty alleviation, economic growth, and a country’s general prosperity with investments in women and girls.
Investing in women is not just the right thing to do – it is also the smart thing to do. Women entrepreneurs create and maintain millions of jobs, accelerating economic growth while overcoming serious systemic challenges, including lack of access to capital, training, and market networks. Around the world, as more women engage in their nations’ economic and political sectors, corruption decreases – even when controlling for other factors such as education or income. Women tend to use increases in household income to invest in the nutrition, health, and education of their families and communities. Improving girls’ access to education is one of the most cost-effective methods for enhancing economic growth, sustaining peace, and combating cyclical poverty, in diverse societies around the world. Unfortunately, the potential that women and girls represent for the future of the world is still largely untapped.
This year, we mark the 15th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women that took place in Beijing in 1995. We are at a critical juncture to consolidate the progress we have made and develop strategies to address the persistent obstacles inhibiting the advancement of women and girls. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently noted, “until women around the world are accorded their rights – and afforded opportunities for education, healthcare, and gainful employment – global progress and prosperity will have its own glass ceiling.” At a time when the global economy is facing the greatest challenge in decades, we need to capitalize on the contributions women can make as drivers of economic growth.
The Fund invests in efficient and innovative solutions to combat violence, improve health and education, promote climate change solutions, and create economic and political opportunities for women and girls. The Fund allows organizations to move quickly and effectively to address new challenges and advance creative ideas through flexible grants and rapid funding. The Fund prioritizes investments in women and girls that enhance local ownership, community engagement, and capacity building. All investments by the Fund are made consistent with U.S. law.
As humanitarian emergencies occur, from the devastating earthquake in Haiti to violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Fund will also support initiatives to enable women to overcome their circumstances. For additional information on areas of focus, please see the fact sheets.
The Fund will recognize a Leadership Circle composed of individual leaders who have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to championing the rights of women and girls around the world. We hope that each of these leaders will lend ongoing expertise to the Fund to ensure its continued success.
The Secretary’s Fund welcomes all contributions – large and small – to address this important challenge. All monies go to fund projects addressing critical needs around the world. Contributors will receive regular updates on project implementation and an annual report detailing the Fund’s investments and public partnerships.
Individuals can contribute any dollar amount through the Fund’s website or by mail. Corporations, foundations, and other large contributors are encouraged to explore partnership commitments directly with Fund staff. Donors can target gifts to specific areas of focus or authorize general contribution in the Fund to meet emerging, unanticipated, and critical humanitarian challenges.