By Maryanne W. Waweru
Consortium partners of the newly launched Feminist Opportunities Now (FON) programme are currently in a start-up workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. The purpose of the three-day workshop is for the consortium partners to plan the modalities of implementation and coordination of the FON programme. IPPF Africa Region (IPPFAR) is the FON consortium lead, with the other consortium partners being Médecins du Monde (MdM-FR), Creating Resources for Empowerment and Action Inc. (CREA), the International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH) and Empow’Her (EH).
Funded by the French Government via the French Development Agency (AFD), the four-year FON programme aims to build the capacity of feminist organisations and movements to prevent and better respond to gender-based violence (GBV). The program will be implemented in 10 countries including six in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, and potentially Niger), two in Latin America (Colombia and Mexico) and two in Asia (Bangladesh and Sri Lanka).
Emphasis on small feminist organizations
FON’s strategy is to sub-grant feminist organisations, with a particular emphasis on small, often non-registered entities. The programme will focus on activist organizations working with, or led by people facing high discrimination, gender inequality and GBV. These include people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identities – among them members of the LGBTIQ community, people living with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and sex workers.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, IPPFAR Director, Ms. Marie-Evelyne Petrus-Barry, lauded the objectives of the FON programme, which stresses on the promotion and protection of the rights of marginalized populations.
During the FON official launch, on 7 February 2023, she said: “Gender-based violence is a gross violation of human rights; but it is preventable. It is one of the key foundations to attain gender equality. The 2019 United Nations Development Programme report emphasised that: "disparities between men and women are among the most deeply rooted forms of inequality in the world. And because they affect half of the world's population, gender inequality is one of the greatest obstacles to human development”. We want to end the incidence of gender-based violence, and for this, the absolute, complete and sustained involvement of us all, is essential.”
Focus on human rights
“When we talk about sexual reproductive health and rights, it must be all-encompassing. For a long time, many programmes have focused on sexual reproductive health, neglecting the ‘rights’ aspect of SRHR. The FON programme is addressing this challenge by prioritizing women’s rights as well as those of other vulnerable and at-risk populations. IPPFAR is honored to lead the implementation of this noble initiative as it squarely aligns with the tenets of IPPF’s global Strategic Framework,” said Petrus-Barry.
In addition to direct sub-granting, FON will provide a unique opportunity for longer-term mentorship to support feminist organisations in their overall development, with trainings tailored to their needs. The programme will further enhance the capacity of these organizations to identify other sources of funding. The research-action component of the FON programme will help inform how these approaches can be scaled-up and made sustainable.
Significance of the workshop
Consortium partners attending the workshop have underscored the timeliness and relevance of the workshop.
“Participating in this forum where we are interacting with fellow consortium partners at the start of the programme is enhancing our understanding of how we all fit into the FON collage and how we will work together to achieve success. The brainstorming sessions and the varied insights by consortium colleagues are refining our grasp of our responsibilities within the regions,” said Gayathri Gamage. CREA’s FON Project Manager.
While praising the workshop’s agenda, Alice Bordaçarre, Head of the Women's rights Desk at FIDH said the sessions are very enriching.
“Gathering the FON consortium partners together in this forum has facilitated a fantastic team building session as we begin the programme’s implementation. Considering that we will work closely together for the next four years, the workshop has presented an excellent opportunity for us to be on the same table with colleagues from different countries, organizations and contexts, all brought together by one goal,” she said.
Calls for funding
According to Alejandra Garcia, the Global FON Programme Manager, the first call for funding will be launched in April 2023.
“We encourage all feminist organizations who qualify to apply for funding. FON grants will enable them to improve on and strengthen their organizations and the networks they are a part of. The funds will enable them to grow to the next level,” she said.
The FON programme was officially launched on Tuesday 7 February at the French Embassy in Nairobi. It was graced by the Ambassador of France in Kenya, H.E. Mr. Arnaud Suquet. Read more.