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Women Rights and Support Fund for Feminist Organizations (FSOF)
It’s a global assembly for gender equality. The Generation Equality Forum (GEF) will be held in Paris from June 30 to July 2. It’s a highly anticipated event where Agence Française de Développement will announce its feminist strategy. Here is an overview of the essential points.

1The GEF announces concrete actions

© Aung Naing Oo/AFD

"For nearly 26 years civil society has awaited this forum, since the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995," says Mar Merita Blat, AFD’s Head of Mission for gender issues. During the forum, AFD plans to discuss the creation of the new Support Fund for Feminist Organizations (FSOF), which it will co-manage with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. The results from a gender study conducted by the coalition of global banks will also be presented. This coalition seeks to establish criteria for gender equality in bank financing. Work groups review and discuss subjects dealing with independence, human rights, sexual and reproductive healthcare, the fight against discrimination and more. The GEF stands as an opportunity to establish a road map for the next five years. 


2The forum highlights both new and crucial topics

© Stéphane Brabant/AFD

This event will be an opportunity to emphasize one of France’s priority issues: reproductive and sexual health – and rights. The rights-based approach is important to France. Another new subject is the question of gender inequalities in the context of climate change. AFD pays particular attention to climate vulnerabilities connected to gender. 


3This event illustrates the feminist diplomacy of France and AFD's positioning as a feminist agency

feminist diplomacy
© Yasin Akgül/AFD

"AFD asserts itself as a feminist agency that is part of the branch of French diplomacy concerned with gender equality," says Mar Merita Blat. Over the past few years, the majority of AFD’s commitments have had gender equality as a major goal, or as their main objective. To determine what place gender equality is given in the different projects, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) established three categories. The first one is DAC 0, where the project is not considered to have had a notable gender equality objective. DAC 1: gender equality is an important, planned objective of the project without being the primary concern. And DAC 2: gender equality is the project's principal objective. In 2020, AFD surpassed its target of having 40% of its projects meet DAC criteria. At least 67% of AFD initiatives met DAC 1 and 2 markers.  


4A support fund for feminist organizations, one of the major subjects announced at the forum

support fund
© Cyril le Tourneur d'Ison/AFD

Jointly led with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Support Fund for Feminist Organizations will be presented by France during the forum as part of a joint event with Canada. The FSOF responds to a need found in the field: financing feminist civil society organizations that often encounter trouble obtaining financial support. There are many wide-ranging topics that are all connected with gender equality challenges, such as gender and climate, sexuality education, women's empowerment or combating gender-related violence. 

With €120 million in financing over three years, the FSOF seeks to help small feminist organizations in the field with their different activities: from advocacy and skills development to action in the field. This is a way to complement the other international initiatives and bilateral projects financed by France tackling gender equality issues. 


5The Feminists in Action project forecasts future actions

Feminists in Action
© Stéphane Brabant/AFD

This concerns one of the projects first backed by FSOF in 2020. Feminists in Action will involve 31 countries and needs to respond to the gender equality issues related to rights access, independence and health. Some 65% of the programs will be set up in African countries and 35% will be in Latin America and Asia. "Through the Feminists in Action project, we support women's and young women's organizations in their initiatives that seek to build awareness among women, young women and girls about their rights," says Massan d’Almeida, president and founder of the Fund for Francophone women, XOESE, based in Lomé, Togo. "The objective is to have them think critically and question the role assigned to them in their family, community and society in general and to oppose any form of discrimination or oppression". 

This project is an effort to meet a serious need in the field, as confirmed by Wendyam Micheline Kabore, executive director of the Burkina Faso rights organization, Initiative Pananetugri for Women's Well Being, in Ouagadougou. "In many cases, feminist organizations are the first, if not the only source of support for initiatives developed by small, local organizations, groups that remain unregistered for practical or political reasons, newly created organizations and young feminist activists." 

The actions related to this project will begin this summer.