Women’s Choices

Overview

The Hewlett Foundation has made grants to expand women’s opportunities and improve women’s well-being and agency since its founding. We support organizations that broaden women’s choices about whether and when to have children and advance gender-responsive macro-level economic policy. Our reproductive equity grants support organizations primarily in East and Francophone West Africa and in the United States, while our grants to increase economic opportunities focus on East and West Africa.

Goals

Global Reproductive Equity

We make grants to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice so women and girls in East Africa and Francophone West Africa, especially those facing the greatest barriers, are increasingly able to seek, access, and use contraception and safe abortion care to further their health, well-being, and life aspirations. We work toward this goal by strengthening the enabling environment for sexual and reproductive health and rights, including support for critical field actors and gender equitable narratives, and ensuring that the most excluded women and girls and the most restricted services are included in Africa’s sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda. Read our strategy (English)(Français) and advocacy strategy for sub-Saharan Africa (PDF).

U.S. Reproductive Equity

We support organizations working to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice in the United States. Our grants aim to protect access to contraception and abortion care for all by strengthening the ecosystem of advocacy organizations that conducts grassroots organizing, policy advocacy, litigation, and research; increasing knowledge about the relationship between women’s reproductive freedom and social and economic outcomes in the United States; and exploring new ways for people to get reproductive health services. Read our strategy (PDF) and our sub-strategy on youth engagement (PDF).

Women’s Economic Empowerment

Make women’s work—including unpaid and informal activity—visible in gender data and integrated into economic policymaking in East and West Africa. We make grants supporting new ways to measure women’s work and expanded research on the impact of different policies on women. Our grants also aim to support advocates working to better inform and influence policies affecting economic opportunities for women. Read our strategy (PDF).

Our Grantmaking

Groundswell Fund
for general operating support
Guttmacher Institute
for general operating support
Population Services International
for support of a regional program to reduce unsafe abortion in francophone West Africa
Ipas
for general operating support

Our Team

Althea D. Anderson 
Program Officer
Kim Brehm
Kim Brehm 
Program Associate
Christine Clark [Headshot]
Christine Clark 
Program Officer
Janet Holt
Janet Holt 
Program Officer
Nathalie Scholl
Nathalie Scholl 
Program Associate
Carla Aguirre 
Communications Officer

Learn More

One of the Hewlett Foundation’s oldest and most enduring commitments has been to ensure the health and well-being of women and girls. Beginning with grants in 1967, we have focused on expanding access to contraception and safe abortion care, so women can decide if or when to have children.

Reproductive health and rights are foundational to gender equity and to women’s ability to achieve their broader life aspirations. All women should be able to access high-quality contraception and safe abortion services in line with their preferences and needs.

There has been significant progress toward improving reproductive health and rights in recent decades. Rates of contraceptive use and access to safe abortion have risen in every region around the world, resulting in declines in unintended pregnancy, maternal mortality, and pregnancy-related morbidity. Yet, a range of obstacles continues to limit reproductive freedom for many around the world. Critical barriers include under-resourced health systems; cultural norms and stigma around women’s sexuality, bodily autonomy, and role in society; and codified laws and policies designed to restrict reproductive rights. These barriers are especially acute across sub-Saharan Africa, where the need for reproductive health services is expected to grow in future years.

Our commitment to reproductive equity guides where we fund, focusing on regions with the greatest need for reproductive health services; who we support, centering underserved communities that frequently face intersectional challenges across gender, income, ethnicity, age, or education; and how we fund, shifting decision making and resources closer to the communities we seek to serve. We make nearly $25 million in grants each year to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice for women and girls in East Africa and Francophone West Africa.

While there has been an emphasis on women’s reproductive health and rights for decades, our approach has widened to include women’s economic empowerment in recent years. In East and West Africa, women hold low-wage jobs and do a large share of unpaid work, from childcare to agricultural production. The economic marginalization of women in low-income countries is extremely costly for women, their families, and society. We dedicate approximately $15 million a year to advance women’s equal participation in the economy and access to opportunities in East and West Africa. Our grants seek to achieve systemic change in areas such as informal work, the care economy, and social protection.

While most of our work is international in scope, we also make grants to promote reproductive health and rights and economic opportunity in the United States. About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. While rates are lower than in the past, they remain among the highest in high-income countries. Gaps in the availability of contraception and legal, safe, and affordable abortion services erode women’s educational and economic opportunities. We give almost $15 million each year to support organizations working domestically to advance reproductive freedom.

We embrace a long-term and flexible approach to grantmaking grounded in humility and continuous learning that prioritizes unrestricted, institutional support.

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