Sexual health of young people in the developing world. Gender-based violence. Stigma and discrimination. Unsafe abortion. Access to comprehensive reproductive health services for the marginalized.
Let’s face it: these topics are hard for a lot of people to talk about, and harder still for many funders to proudly and publicly support. They are challenges that can be best addressed by those who know the social context, and who have a lifelong commitment to these issues—a mission for social change. While they’re at the outskirts of many donor-funded programs and lie beyond the influence of sweeping rhetoric at international conferences, these issues are at the very heart of protecting the health and rights of women and men around the world.
And now, as of last Monday evening, there’s a place where civil society organizations with ideas and energy can find support from donors committed to progress on these tough issues.
AmplifyChange was launched during UN Week in New York, after months of preparation by its financial backers, the Governments of Denmark and the Netherlands, the Packard Foundation and ourselves, as well as the implementing consortium of MannionDaniels, the Global Fund for Women, and the African Women’s Development Fund. The aim is to help lift and, yes, amplify the voices of civil society in countries with the greatest deficits in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Support is available from the fund, now capitalized at about $19.4 million, for movement-building, strengthening the work of individual organizations, and sparking much needed innovations in advocacy. (The Guardian has a nice introduction to the effort, published earlier this week.)
As a foundation with no in-country presence and very limited ability to make the small, tailored grants that local groups often need, we are very happy to be able to channel resources in a responsible way to tackle these important issues. We’re looking forward, in particular, to seeing how the women’s funds, which are experienced at making small grants and providing technical support, help groups working on these challenging topics.
We’re also happy to have the chance to work with the courageous Governments of Denmark and the Netherlands, who are showing such leadership. We’re hopeful that AmplifyChange will demonstrate its value quickly, so that others who understand how crucial a full set of reproductive rights are to the empowerment of girls and women will join us—as funders, intellectual collaborators, and advocates.