WFN members play a critical role in giving a voice, decision-making power, and resources to all marginalized genders and their families.

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Elizabeth Barajas-Román, President and CEO

Nearly forty years ago, the women’s funding movement started with a gathering of about 20 leaders who were convinced that traditional philanthropic institutions’ strategies for social change were ineffective because they didn’t listen to local voices, and they left out women – particularly women of color – leaders.

Their vision was that by democratizing philanthropy through local funds created by, and for, women, we could dismantle gender inequity region-by-region across the globe. Four decades later we see that vision in action through the steadfast efforts of our members during these unprecedented times of crises. As women’s foundations, gender equity funders and philanthropists, WFN members play a critical role in giving a voice, decision-making power, and resources to all marginalized genders and their families.

Their efforts ensure that a gender lens remains a central focus and priority in our communities amidst this uncertain moment in history. Without their support women disappear from the conversation and, as a result, from the economic equation entirely when it comes to equitable and appropriate allocation of funds and resources. The organizational capacity and interconnectedness of women’s funds and foundations and gender equity funders is pivotal to improving the effectiveness of philanthropic interventions aimed at eradicating unequal and oppressive systems of power.

The organizational capacity and interconnectedness of women’s funds and foundations and gender equity funders is pivotal to improving the effectiveness of philanthropic interventions aimed at eradicating unequal and oppressive systems of power.

Yet what remains painfully clear is that there is still much work to be done in the fight for equity and justice, both in the halls of power and on the front lines of change in our communities to combat fear and oppression and to advance protections for women, children, LGTQ and gender nonconforming individuals, people of color, ethnic and religious minorities, and those fleeing overwhelming poverty, danger, instability and trauma.

When women’s funds thrive, the quality of philanthropic impact grows, and the broader field of philanthropy continues to invest resources in those funds and foundations. This creates a cycle of intersectional gender-lens approaches to robustly resourcing movements and grassroots leaders driving change. With more resources, these leaders can reach the critical mass need to shift the oppressive power dynamics that keep harmful systems in place.

I truly believe the world is on the precipice of change. In what feels like our darkest hour, we see rays of hope and the promise of a brighter future. As women’s funds, foundations and gender justice funders, we vow to continue our work to get resources to the movements and organizations demanding a world free from the institutions and violence rooted in racism and sexism.

I could not be more proud to be here in this fight with you as we rise to this challenge together.

Yours for equity and justice,

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network
President & CEO

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