Canada commits $300M to launch new global Equality Fund for women’s rights

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Canada’s federal government is committing $330 million in funding as it reshapes the way it supports gender equality issues in Canada and abroad.

Maryam Monsef, minister of international development and minister of women and gender equality, made the announcement in Vancouver on Sunday.

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The largest slice of the funds, $300 million, will go to the Equality Fund, which will work to develop a funding platform for women’s rights organizations in developing countries.

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“It is a consortium of Canadian and international organizations who have already mobilized $100 million with an ambitious plan to mobilize another billion dollars over the next 15 years,” said Monsef.

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“This investment makes Canada the number one investor in women’s rights organizations at home and around the world.”

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Partners in the consortium include NGOs such as the MATCH International Women’s Fund, the African Women’s Development Fund and Oxfam, as well as corporations such as the Royal Bank of Canada.

The federal government says the money will be used to attract more support from international philanthropic agencies.

“With women’s funds, community foundations, large philanthropic institutions, high net worth philanthropists, a leading Canadian bank, an impact fund manager and venture capital aligned, it is unprecedented to have this diversity of willing partners working to reach the ambitious goal of generating new assets to tackle gender inequality for once and for all,” said The MATCH Fund president and CEO and Equality Fund co-founder Jess Tomlin in a media release.

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A further $30 million is being committed to a funding agreement with three domestic organizations: the Community Foundations of Canada, the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada.

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Monsef said those organizations will match the federal money dollar-for-dollar. She said the agreement will help ensure stable, long-term funding for initiatives that have previously had to compete for resources.

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“When funds have existed, they have come with strings attached and they have prevented far too many from being able to plan, have strategic plans in place that allow the attraction and retention of the very best of talent, and more often than not caused burnout because [organizers are] overwhelmed working on grant application after grant application instead of focusing on the women who depend on you.”

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The Community Foundation of Canada will work with its 190 partner organizations to improve gender equality across the country, while the Canadian Women’s Foundation funding will be focused on women in remote and northern areas.

Grand Challenges Canada will focus on hosting and incubating an Indigenous-designed and led platform to identify and address women’s challenges, Monsef said.

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