Call for Applications: March 8 Fund 2024

8 March 2024
Call for Applications: March 8 Fund 2024

The GRÓ GEST programme hereby invites its alumni to apply for The March 8 Fund 2024. The deadline for applications is at midnight (GMT) April 29, 2024. Selected applicants will be announced on 3 June 2024. The March 8 Fund was established following a pilot call under the name ‘GEST Alumni Fund’ in 2020 to finance projects promoting gender equality and social justice, led by GEST alumni.

Read more about how to apply, eligibility criteria and priorities here.

Why the March 8 Fund? Three reasons.

A Global Backlash
In recent years, there has been a major backlash against gender equality in many countries. Hard-won rights have been rolled back, and anti-feminist rhetoric is on the rise. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have, for example, implemented stringent measures, curtailing the participation of women and teenage girls in various aspects of daily life. China's government has muzzled feminist voices through censorship policies, including the prohibition of feminist terms dubbed as “harmful speech.” In the United States, there is a growing trend of imposing restrictions on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.

On this International Women's Day, GRÓ GEST urges governments worldwide to acknowledge the global backlash against women’s rights and to strengthen efforts to safeguard women and girls.

But gender equality is more than talk. It requires governments to match rhetoric with action.

True commitment requires investment
Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day, major organizations, and stakeholders stand in line around the world to celebrate women’s rights and to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. However, as most gender equality professionals, including alumni from the GRÓ GEST programme, know all too well; while it is easy to talk about the virtues of gender equality, it remains an area of human development that is still underfunded.

Celebrating International Women's Day only by promoting general and vague notions of equality is not enough" 

Historically, March 8 is a day rooted in radical social reform and deserves more than gradual commercialization and dilution. The March 8 Fund seeks to function as a reminder to governments and donors that true commitment requires investment. Through its process of project selection and reporting, it also seeks henceforth to signal the importance of the decolonization of funding processes.

The Coloniality of Compliance
When western donors provide funds for local organisations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the conventional perspective on compliance, which involves evaluating how well local organizations adhere to commitments, stems from a colonial notion that local organisations from the south of the world are inherently incapable of self-governance and thus require rigorous monitoring. This outlook presupposes that it is only western donors that bear all the risk in funding processes, neglecting the risk local individuals and organisations take in standing up for gender equality. Compliance systems often subject local organizations to repetitive bureaucratic "due diligence" processes that hamper their ability to promptly address local needs.

The March 8 Fund was established in the spirit of mutual trust between GRÓ GEST and its international alumni of passionate, trustworthy, and capable gender equality professionals. As such, GRÓ GEST acknowledges their tireless dedication and commitment by keeping bureaucracy and paperwork associated with the March 8 Fund to a minimum.

Thus far, every recipient of the fund has made good on their promises and delivered results beyond expectations.

Recipients of the March 8 Fund
In 2020, €10,000 were awarded by GRÓ GEST to Chinenye Anekwe, alumna of 2018, for the project Business Booster Programme for 100 Rural Women Energy Entrepreneurs. The project was jointly financed by the then GEST Alumni Fund and Solar Sister Nigeria and was led by Ms. Anekwe. Following the lead of Ms. Anekwe, the second recipient of the alumni fund, now called the March 8 Fund, was Claudia Pamela Chavarría Machado. In 2021 she received €10,000 and initiated and led a project co-funded by Iniciativa Ciudadana y Desarrollo (INCIDE) on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) called Community Response to Access to the Right of Women to Live Free from Violence in Mexico City. Both projects reached and exceeded outcome expectations. In 2023, Sonal Dhanani, GEST alum of 2022 received €9,700 for her project Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion Advocacy Hub, which was co-funded by her own organisations Parindey. The project finishes in March 2024.

The success of these projects, as indicated by mid and final reporting of demonstrates the need for continued financial investment in small-scale projects. It is rewarding and motivating for both GRÓ GEST and its alumni to witness local impacts led by young gender equality experts.