Zimbabwe entrepreneur Tsitsi Masiyiwa has teamed up with billionaire philanthropists Melinda French Gates, MacKenzie Scott and others, to launch a US$1-billion gender fund to advance global equality and women’s leadership.
The fund will be run by Co-Impact and will focus on 13 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is not clear whether women in Zimbabwe will benefit from the fund or not as it is not one of the focus countries.
The focus countries are India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico. Co-Impact was asked whether Zimbabwe would benefit or not but had not responded.
According to a statement issued at the launch today, the Gender Fund will unblock pathways for women and girls to exercise their power, agency and leadership at all levels -from household and community to institutions and government.
It will fund locally-rooted partners to ensure that health, education, and economic systems work and are accountable to those they are intended to serve.
Olivia Leland, founder, and CEO of Co-Impact, said: “To make progress on gender equality, we need systemic change in the structures, laws, and policies and processes of government, in how markets function, and how social norms are shaped and enforced.
“The mission of the Gender Fund is to deliver on the ambition of a world where systems and societies are just and inclusive, and where all women have the opportunity to exercise power, agency, and leadership at all levels.”
Melinda French Gates, global advocate for women and girls and the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “By partnering with Co-Impact, we’re able to identify programmes that address the barriers blocking women from reaching their full potential as leaders.
“We need change to happen at every level of society. And it starts with opening more doors for women to step into their power and craft policies that lift others up like them. This is our once in a generation chance to rebuild our systems to finally work for women and girls.”
Co-Impact will provide at least 10% of the funds raised to feminist and women’s rights groups and movements.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa, co-founder of Delta Philanthropies and Higherlife Foundation, said: “There is no ‘one’ intervention, organization, or solution that can address every single barrier that is preventing women from living equitable and fulfilling lives.
“Gender inequality exists and manifests differently in every country, sector, and society around the world. The idea is that each component of the wider ecosystem has its part to play and is therefore eligible for Gender Fund support.”