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Women's organisations and feminist mobilisation: supporting the foundational drivers of gender equality

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Rachel George, Caroline Harper

Image credit:Feminist poster for 8 March in Santiago, Chile 2022. Credit: Emilie Tant

Women have come together to bring about seismic shifts in the daily lives of people around the globe. Without the tireless work of women demanding their rights or activists standing up against multiple forms of oppression (often at great personal cost), it is easy to imagine a very different, less equal, world.

Women’s autonomous mobilisation dates back millennia and crosses all geographies and continents. Although frequently written out of historical narratives, women have led all sorts of organising around various forms of social justice, not least gender inequality. Today International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March to mark this work.

Despite the critical roles women’s movements play in progressing issues at the core of the sustainable development goals and global funders’ agendas, these groups are chronically under-supported. Worldwide, grassroots women’s organisations receive a very small share of the total funding directed to gender equality – reportedly less than 1% of Official Development Assistance.

This ODI briefing note discusses the many ways in which women’s movements contribute to social transformation, outlining the barriers and challenges they face, as well as the support needed to sustain long-term impact.