Knowledge and learning

Leader of a women’s group supported by grantee Central Asian Alliance for Water in Kyrgyzstan, in a talk about women’s leadership in local governance. Photo courtesy of Central Asian Alliance for Water/Kanykei Abazkhanova.
Leader of a women’s group supported by grantee Central Asian Alliance for Water in Kyrgyzstan, in a talk about women’s leadership in local governance. Photo courtesy of Central Asian Alliance for Water/Kanykei Abazkhanova.

Driven by the constant search for self-improvement and broader impact, the Fund for Gender Equality (FGE) draws on evidence and experiences from its projects to contribute to global knowledge on women’s empowerment and the role of civil society in sustainable development.

Some examples:

  • The first independent evaluation commissioned by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality assessed USD 84 million invested through 121 grants across 80 countries since the Fund’s creation in 2009. The evaluation found that the Fund’s key contributions have entailed developing skills, addressing social norms to influence change, and establishing gender-responsive governance structures—all of which enabled greater women’s political and economic participation. It also concluded that the FGE helps legitimize women’s organizations and supports their learning through a culture of accompaniment, and that civil society sees the FGE as an important and necessary mechanism.
  • The independent “Fund for Gender Equality evaluations 2011–2015: Meta analysis” (see summary fact sheet here) comprehensively reviews findings, conclusions, lessons, and recommendations from FGE-funded project evaluations between 2011 and 2015. It also provides evidence and insights around what works for women’s political and economic empowerment and around the Fund’s model.
  • A thematic factsheet, “‘Leaving No Woman Behind’ in action”, outlines civil society strategies to bring the most marginalized populations to the forefront. It provides programming tips and practical examples on how to operationalize the “leaving no one behind” principle.
  • "'Re-think. Experiment.' Where Social Innovation Meets Feminist Programming," extracted from the Fund's 2018-2019 annual report, details the FGE's first social innovation initiative, called "Re-think. Experiment.", which challenged nine grantees in 11 countries to apply design-thinking methods to their women's rights programming. Ultimately, the initiative aimed to develop capabilities among women's organizations to create innovative solutions to women's empowerment challenges and foster sustainable social impacts, while testing new approaches to feminist grant-making. 
  • "Women's Civil Society Organizations of the Future", from the Fund's 2018-2019 annual report, outlines the challenges, needs and promising practices of women's organizations to remain relevant and become both sustainable and resilient in ever-changing, complex contexts. Through a research-action initiative and design methodologies, the FGE and civil society organizations are co-creating solutions to better understand how the Fund and UN Women at large can better support such organizations.
  • "South-South Cooperation", a brief extract from the Fund's 2018-2019 annual report, presents an initiative launched by the FGE to enhance grantees' capacities for lasting impacts. Involving exchange visits between grantees from different countries working on similar issues, this project reaffirmed FGE's concerted efforts to promote South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) as a core accelerator to the SDGs.
  • “Domestic Workers: Sweeping Invisibility”, a brief extract from the Fund’s 2017–2018 annual report, analyses pressing challenges faced by women domestic workers worldwide. It describes the efforts of grantees around the world in helping them secure decent working conditions and access to services.
  • The Upscaling and Innovation Initiative is profiled in an extract from the 2017–2018 annual report that looks at how eight grantees are rethinking their programming approaches with an upscaling lens and learning to apply new tools drawing from the field of social innovation, such as user-centred design.
  • “The Fund for Gender Equality legacy”, from the 2016 annual report, surveys current and former grantees to highlight their most significant contributions to women’s empowerment as a result of FGE’s support.
  • The Knowledge Initiative on Economic Empowerment in Fragile Contexts was produced in 2015 as part of a learning partnership with the Government of Japan. It explores good practices in four projects conducted by grantees in Guinea, Lebanon, and Sudan. A collection of research papers, photos, and videos captured women’s perceptions of economic barriers and opportunities as well as measures for strengthening resilience. The initiative produced a series of recommendations for future programmes.