By the Women's Movement, for the Women's Movement

The Equality Fund is leveraging innovative partnerships to fund women's rights organizations

Why It Matters

The Equality Fund launched with $300 million in funding from the Canadian government and ambitious plans to raise another over $1 billion in funding over the next 15 years. Here's how the Canadian-born initiative is using collaboration, partnerships, and a strong feminist vision to guide their path.

We started #FutureOfGood Twitter chats to dive deeper into hot topics that have been resonating with our community. It’s hosted Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. ET.

This week, we spoke with Jess Tomlin, co-founder and partner of the Equality Fund and CEO of the MATCH International Women’s Fund, about the launch of the Equality Fund, its ground-breaking partnerships and collaborations, and building a bold, feminist movement.

 

 

Why will Canadians remember the announcement of the Equality Fund as a historic moment?

Canada will remember the announcement of the Equality Fund as a historic moment because it was the day you could hear feminists roar. Canada will remember that day because the Equality Fund is the first of its kind. Because it was built by the women’s movement for the women’s movement.

 

What makes the Equality Fund’s approach radical and audacious?

Here’s the problem the Equality Fund is trying to solve. Women’s rights organizations in Canada and around the world are driving transformation. They are holding ground and protecting hard-won gains. They are breaking ground and creating a new normal. The Equality Fund’s theory of change sits on the premise that these organizations and movements will deliver change if properly resourced.

The Equality Fund does this and creates a funding architecture that will stand the test of time, bringing together core partners in a collaboration of multi-sector partnerships. They bring diverse expertise from the philanthropic, non-profit, financial, and government sectors. No sector alone can solve gender inequality. The Equality Fund is a catalytic investment by the Government of Canada of $300M to create a stimulus for women’s rights investing and philanthropy.

The Equality Fund brings more partnerships, networks, and resources to women’s movements and organizations in Canada and globally. We’re completely reshaping the charity model.

 

On making the Equality Fund truly feminist

The Equality Fund is built by and for the feminist movement, and its grants will be core, long-term, flexible, and go to those directly leading movements at the grassroots. The Equality Fund’s impact investing will be done through a gender lens to grow resources for women’s movements, and the entire approach is intersectional and inclusive. 

We are feminists, accountable to the feminist movement. Leadership by the African Women’s Development Fund, the MATCH International Women’s Fund, and our sisters in the Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds is what makes the Equality Fund a game-changer, in my humble view.

 

The Sustainable Development Goals sunset in 10 years. Is $1 billion sufficient? Are we moving fast enough?

Listen — women’s organizations have been operating on an annual budget of $20,000 USD the world over. Of course a billion isn’t enough, but this is a big lift for the leaders on the ground doing the hard work.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and this funding is being built to fund the long game. Norms, attitudes, cultures, traditions, laws… they all take time to change. We want to be able to back these activists long-term with core funding and flexible, multi-year support.

A billion is not sufficient. But the Equality Fund’s model could be considered across many issues, including housing, climate, and food security. We are amazed by what this has unlocked from the impact investing community, from philanthropy, and from the movement.

 

On cross-organization collaboration and partnerships

Building the Equality Fund has taught me that collaboration is the only way to tackle big issues, and the key is to work with trust. Trust accelerates everything. Trust people to know how to move their communities and sectors. Trust the expertise. Trust that it’s ok to move fast when you have the right team.

“Move at the speed of trust” comes to us from the Black Lives Matter movement… a philosophy we have come to espouse.

 

Next Up

For our upcoming #FutureOfGood Twitter chat, we’ll be talking about Indigenous impact investing and innovation with Jeffrey Cyr, Managing Partner at Raven Indigenous Capital Partners. Thursdays at 12-1pm ET. Follow from anywhere. RSVP here to receive exclusive insights from the chat and get a reminder closer to the date.