8 February 2024

Achieving gender equality through collective and targeted funding

Across the globe, multiple challenges are increasingly threatening to reverse years of progress in gender equality. In these post-pandemic times, from Afghanistan and Iran to the US and Poland, women’s rights are being eroded. Europe is no stranger to that trend, with stark anti-gender funding and closing of civic spaces.

While women in Europe still enjoy significant freedoms, there is much work to be done to protect those gains and ensure we achieve full gender equality. The lack of economic inclusion of women and gender non-conforming people is a persistent issue.

In Europe, women are earning 13% less than their male counterparts and face a 30% pension gap. Additionally, data indicates that 40% of transgender individuals have encountered discrimination in the workplace or during job searches. These numbers aren’t just data points; they represent a stark reality that compels us to confront the systemic barriers perpetuating gender inequalities with urgency.

Findings from a recent EU-wide survey on violence against women reveal that, on average, 12% of women in the EU have faced partner abuse involving economic violence. These challenges are exacerbated for those living in poverty, with disabilities, and/or belonging to marginalised groups.

In the light of those challenges, we have decided to come together in the Alliance for Gender Equality in Europe (the Alliance) – the first pooled fund to support gender equality and women’s rights in Europe. It stands as a pragmatic force for change and understands the urgent need for bringing about gender equality by addressing the structural issues faced in the continent, such as economic equality.

The reason is simple. Fostering gender equality would not only improve the lives of women, but it would also benefit the economy. In Europe, investing in gender equality could potentially lead to an increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) per person from 6.1% to 9.6% by 2050. This is because greater equality in Europe could potentially create an additional 10.5 million jobs by 2050, 70% of which would be taken by women. This would consequently aid in reducing poverty, which disproportionately impacts women and minorities because of their lower employment rate. 

Supporting frontline organisations for real change

We are committed to supporting small frontline organisations, acknowledging that meaningful change often starts at the grassroots level.

Since its inception in 2021, the Alliance’s efforts have provided support to 36 organisations, offering grants totalling 4 million euros. Notable grantees, including Women on Top, GirlDreamer, and Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM), have demonstrated how they employ complementary strategies to achieve economic gender equality. They do this by supporting entrepreneurs and workers in developing their skills, identifying suitable economic opportunities, and collaborating with businesses, policymakers, and broader society to foster a more inclusive economy. The objective is to address long-term structural issues underpinning economic inequality.

Organisations such as GirlDreamer and Women on Top offer workshops to foster financial autonomy that indirectly addresses the often-unseen economic abuse constraining women’s choices. Notably, GirlDreamer’s support for eldest daughters from immigrant families includes learning workshops, therapy sessions, and grants of up to £2,500 (2,900 euros) to kickstart their own initiatives, offering tangible avenues for women to shape their destinies.

ORAM, in its commitment to assist vulnerable groups, helps individuals like 26-year-old queer Ukrainian Anastasiia Suslova. Forced to flee at the onset of the Ukraine invasion, ORAM connected her with NIYA, a UK-based career management platform. Through the platform’s DataCamp program, Anastasiia acquired data science and analysis skills, aiming to combine them with her marketing background for a career in data analysis and marketing. Beyond workplace opportunities, this chance at financial freedom equips her for integration in Germany and success beyond her association with ORAM.

Funding directly impacts the work of gender equality organisations, offering critical support not only to counteract millions poured into anti-gender and anti-LGBT hate groups but also to aid some of the most marginalised communities amidst geopolitical conflicts and climate disasters. On November 28, 2023, we organised an event to showcase the effectiveness of our grantees’ efforts, emphasising the importance of sharing best practices and allocating funding where it can have the most significant impact.

Collaboration is key

For us, collaboration is not just a concept but a guiding principle. By forging connections between funders and grantee organisations, we accelerate informed decision-making and by pooling resources and knowledge, we create a more impactful and coordinated approach to address the funding gap.

Philanthropy, when harnessed collectively, becomes a strategic force aimed at dismantling the barriers that hinder progress. The active mobilisation of the philanthropic community is a testament to a commitment to ensure funding is a catalyst for societal change.

Europe stands at the brink of transformative change, and we believe these collective endeavours, as a vanguard, can lead the charge. As we navigate through turbulent times, these efforts serve as a guiding force, showing that with targeted and collective financial intervention, systemic change is not only possible but imminent. This is a call for action. The urgency is palpable, the stakes are high, and these collective endeavours stand poised at the forefront, ready to turn the tide in the pursuit of gender equality.

The Alliance for gender equality in Europe (the Alliance) is a donors collaborative created in 2021 to support progress for gender equality and women’s rights in Europe. It is composed by Bodossaki Foundation, Fondation CHANEL, Fondation de France, Fondation RAJA-Danièle Marcovici, JPMorgan Chase, King Baudouin Foundation and L’Oréal Fund for Women and hosted by the Network of European Foundations. Through grants, capacity strengthening and awareness raising, the Alliance strengthens small frontline organisations achieving a just and fair society for all through gender equality. Picture credit @Per Esempio Onlus


Marion Schaefer
Managing Director, Fondation CHANEL, France & Europe, and Chair of the Alliance
Jennifer Clarke
Director of Programmes and Grants, Bodossaki Foundation