Members of a self-help group in Ethiopia, supported by grantee Union of Ethiopian Women Charitable Association, counting the weekly money saved. Photo: courtesy of Union of Ethiopian Women Charitable Association
Members of a self-help group in Ethiopia, supported by grantee Union of Ethiopian Women Charitable Association, counting the weekly money saved. Photo: courtesy of Union of Ethiopian Women Charitable Association
Selection | Accompaniment and Growth | Grant Cycles

With its commitment to supporting national women-led civil society organizations in the Global South, the Fund for Gender Equality (FGE) puts everything in place for grantmaking to be accessible, demand-driven, far-reaching and flexible. We listen and respond to the priorities of women’s organizations on the ground.


The Fund for Gender Equality currently does not have an open call for proposals. If you are a civil society organization searching for funding, see other grantmaking resources here.

Grantmaking starts with a global call for proposals through a specialized online platform. A highly competitive, independent and rigorous process follows, where the highest-ranking proposals are shortlisted and offered technical support to further develop planning for programme activities and results based on a sound theory of change. For a detailed explanation of the Fund's latest grantmaking process, click here.
While each call has a specific thematic focus, all applications need to comply with a set of fundamental requirements. Grantees must:
  • Be a national women-led civil society organization that can push the women’s rights agenda and hold governments accountable, while also having access to and the ability to respond to the needs of the most marginalized communities.
  • Focus on women who are marginalized because of their ethnicity, race, religion, age, health status, sexual identity, socioeconomic class, geographic location or other factors that fuel discrimination.
  • Link local implementation to national and regional commitments to ensure systemic and sustainable results.
  • Demonstrate strategic partnerships with government agencies and public institutions, academic institutions, private sector actors, religious leaders and other non-traditional partners towards achieving sustainability and scalability.
  • Test innovative approaches that open new spaces, explore creative practices or pioneer alliances to unlock transformative changes in the gendered balance of power at all levels.
  • Expand proven approaches that apply existing evidence as a basis for the theory of change.
  • Put sustainability at the centre to keep project results going beyond the life of the grant.

Accompaniment and Growth

FGE specialists and UN Women country office focal points provide selected grantees with technical support to fully design, implement and report on their programmes. The goal is to have the greatest impact through the programme while also strengthening women’s organizations to operate effectively in their key issue area or geographic location. For more, see the FGE Independent Evaluation 2009-2017.

Grant Cycles

Over the past 10 years, the FGE has conducted four grant cycles. Through a continuous learning process, it has regularly refined features of the cycles to better respond to grantees’ needs. See our FGE Global Portfolio Map 2009-2019.

 Cycle #  Cycle Name  Number of proposals received

 Total requested funding


Total number of grants  Total Number of grants 
 1 2009-2010: Catalytic and Implementation   1,237 2.4 billion  40  38.2 million
 2  2011-2012: Political and Economic Empowerment  1,006  542 million  56  18.2 million
 3  2015: SDGs  1,386  531 million  24  7.5 million
 4  2017: Scaling and Social Innovation  Invitation Only  n/a  9  1.3 million
   Total  3,629  3.5 billion  120  65.2 million

First Cycle 2009-2010: Implementation and Catalytic

The FGE’s first cycle provided two types of grants. Catalytic grants ranged from US$100,000 to US$500,000. They funded the establishment of strategic coalitions or partnerships to catalyse the development and endorsement of national or local plans, policies or laws advancing gender equality. Implementation grants of US$1 million to US$3 million targeted countries that already had such plans, policies or laws but needed to accelerate implementation. For a full list of first-cycle grantees, click here.

Second Cycle 2011-2012: Political and Economic Empowerment

The second cycle pursued two main thematic areas: women’s leadership and participation, and women’s access to economic empowerment opportunities. Grant sizes ranged from US$200,000 to US$600,000. The cycle placed a deeper focus on supporting national women-led organizations. For a full list of second-cycle grantees, click here.

Third Cycle 2015: Spotlight on the Sustainable Development Goals

The third cycle was specifically designed to spur realization of the SDGs. It targeted women-led local, national and regional civil society organizations working to promote rights and empowerment for the most marginalized and vulnerable groups of women and girls. For a full list of third-cycle grantees, click here.

Fourth Cycle 2018-2019: Scaling and Social Innovation

Limited funding did not hamper a fourth grant cycle. An opportunity opened to explore the emerging and fascinating field of social innovation. An invitation-only window has allowed active grantees to secure additional funds of up to US$165,000 to scale up successful projects and weave in social innovation approaches. The cycle has been geared towards multiplying the reach of successful strategies to benefit more women and girls, applying the tools of specialized expert support, face-to-face workshops, individual coaching sessions and peer networking. For a full list of fourth-cycle grantees, click here.