It really is a great pleasure to be here for the signing of the ACBF/AWDF phase 2 grant agreement. AWDF is delighted with this opportunity to continue our relationship with ACBF – and for many reasons. Of course we welcome the grant from ACBF to AWDF of 2.7 million dollars over a four year period… but what we appreciate more is the way in which that grant is framed. ACBF is giving AWDF the opportunity to both strengthen our core capacity and to reach out to the various women’s organisations we partner with to strengthen their capacities. This is a wonderful opportunity and one for which ACBF should be praised. Only too often, donors focus on projects, wanting organisations to deliver results on the ground without taking into consideration the need for organisations to be strong and sustainable themselves, if they are to deliver on results. ACBF recognises this and makes its funding available in such a way as to strengthen organisational capacity, sustainability and therefore strengthen the impact of programmes on the ground. This allows organisations and activists to look beyond the immediate and be more innovative and strategic in planning and implementing for both the short and long term.
When AWDF was first being planned, there were some people who were sceptical about whether African women could establish an organisation that would raise funds and make grants to African women’s organisations working on women’s rights, gender equity and social justice. They thought it was some crazy dream… well they should have known better because for centuries African women have known how to make things happen. We may dream big dreams – especially on behalf of our families and nations – but we also know how to work hard to make those dreams become real.
AWDF celebrated its tenth anniversary last year… and it’s wonderful that a grantmaking organisation that was founded by three African women, whose whole motivation can be summed up as ‘with, by and for’ African women, can stand here today and tell you that we have made grants worth more than 19 million dollars to more than 800 women’s organisations in 42 African states.
And relationships with organisations such as the ACBF have helped us achieve that success. In the first phase of the ACBF/AWDF project, AWDF was able to strengthen our internal systems and policies, study and learn from other Grantmakers and begin to strengthen some of our partner organisations. In phase two, we will do more. We will continue to strengthen and develop our systems; we will work at improving our monitoring and evaluation, our documentation and knowledge management and we will strengthen our sustainability. Just as importantly, we will increase the capacity building work undertaken with our grantees and develop new and exciting ways of working with our partners to make the most of their ideas, capacity and impact.
That may sound a little boring, but the impact on the ground is not. Take for example the CEO forum that AWDF runs for the leaders of women’s rights organisations across the continent. These gatherings have provided technical support and information to the leadership of some of Africa’s most crucial women’s rights organisations… they have provided a space to think, to plan, to test ideas and to strengthen the ethical and motivational core of leadership that is needed to bring change in often challenging circumstances. We look forward to more of this, but also to making the CEO forum a hub where we can also develop intellectual leadership on some of the key challenges facing the continent’s women. And another example is the way in which our work with individual organisations sets them up for even greater impact: whether it’s the small group on the ground in Sierra Leone doing excellent work on livelihoods with women but unable to raise sufficient funds to scale up its work, who used the small funds received from AWDF to leverage more money from other donors and extend its work substantially; or whether its funding a network like NETRIGHT in Ghana so that a range of different organisations could come together to produce the ‘Women’s Manifesto’ as the base of advocacy on women’s rights issues across all political parties; or whether its funding leadership training for women, the alumni of which include various Ministers in African countries, a range of heads of organisations and key activists across the continent. And we have been able to work with other funding bodies as well, building the capacity of women’s funds in Tanzania and South Africa for example and establishing partnerships with organisations like the NaDef in Ghana.
As AWDF has grown, so have our partner organisations. We thank the ACBF for its support and belief in our capacities and vision. We look forward to an exciting Phase II partnership in which the work of AWDF expands, the rights of women in Africa are recognised and better implemented and the women of Africa are supported to play their full role in the economic, social and political development of our continent.