In 1987, Anne Firth Murray saw a need and had an idea. The world needed an organization that would link caring donors with activist women around the world, dedicated to ensuring human rights for women. Her driving belief was that when women were empowered to address violence and injustice at a local level there would be an international impact. Today, the Global Fund for Women has become the largest foundation in the world focused exclusively on women and girls, granting more than $35 million to approximately 2500 women's groups in 180 countries.
Eighteen years ago, the inspiration for Anne's idea came when she was in Nigeria, evaluating some donors' work with family planning clinics. When three women told her they would like to talk with her about an idea, she met with them late into the night. The women were looking for a small grant to fund an organization that would help street-women address the issue of violence and women's access to paid employment. Thus began Anne's idea of a global fund that would foster indigenous philanthropy by awarding grants to women's rights organizations, which in turn would provide small grants to local women's groups. In the process, the women would develop skills in grant making, reach new groups, and cultivate local traditions of giving. Anne, a consulting professor in human biology at Stanford University, has made developing the Global Fund for Women her life's work. She has pushed the boundaries of traditional grant making by giving resources to women's groups that would not ordinarily qualify for attention from traditional foundations that have their own agendas. Funding has empowered groups that seek to eliminate the trafficking and slavery of women and girls, advance health and sexual and reproductive rights, expand civic and political participation, ensure economic and environmental justice, increase access to education, advance peace, and end gender-based violence. What began as Anne's vision to get money into the hands of women so that their voices would be heard and their choices respected has grown into a movement that has strengthened marginalized groups and increased their influence on the larger society.
Global Fund for Women