Where’s the money for gender equality?

Women in Nepal hold a sign. Photo by: Stephan Bachenheimer / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Worldwide calls for a post-2015 agreement that puts an end to violence against women are roaring and growing by the day. But is the call loud enough to gain financial support?

This year alone, the U.N. Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women has received more than 2,400 proposals requesting at least $1.1 billion.

So far, the fund can only provide about 10 percent or $10 million of its proposed financial requirement for 2013 of $30 million.

“As evidenced by the number of proposals received each year, the gap between the demand from the ground and resources to meet this demand is extremely high,” Tanya Ghani, the fund’s officer in charge, told Devex.

The United Nations calls for a fundraising drive to secure $100 million in annual grant making by 2015. The fund is backed by voluntary contributions from U.N. member states, private sector companies, foundations and individuals.

The fund has only four months to raise its target funding before grants will be awarded. Still, no pledging date was set for the fund, according to Ghani.

“The 2,410 proposals received by the U.N. trust fund this year are currently under review and final grant-making decisions will be made by July 2013,” Ghani said. “Since the U.N. trust fund is a globally pooled resource base, it also serves as a barometer of political commitment.”

Over the past 16 years, the fund has supported 351 programs worth $86 million. The fund’s active portfolio spans 95 programs worth about $64 million.

The current grant-making cycle has a special focus area on eliminating violence against adolescent and young girls.

“This includes addressing violence against girls at the highest risk of violence including girls who are out of school, isolated by marriage, or invisible as domestic workers,” Ghani said.

Last year’s shooting of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai for her vocal support for girls’ education in Pakistan and brutal rape of 23-year-old Nirbhaya in India shocked the world, sparking a worldwide call to include the elimination of women brutality in the post-MDG agenda.

Despite commitment by numerous countries to expand gender equality and empowerment, advancing the cause seems to be the least priority among donor countries.

Why programs for gender equality lack enough funding point to insufficient political commitment and budgetary resources, according to U.N. Women.

Between 2010 and 2011, donors committed about $20.5 billion in real value to support gender equality initiatives. In 2011, donors committed about $148 billion in real value in official development assistance to developing countries.

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About the author

  • John Alliage Morales

    As a former Devex staff writer, John Alliage Morales covered the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community. Prior to joining Devex, John worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data, and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.