African Women’s Development Fund AWDF

Over the past ten years, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has blazed a trail for women’s rights and philanthropy across the African continent. The first pan-African women’s grant maker on the continent, AWDF has established itself as an innovative organization at the cutting edge of social justice and women’s rights philanthropy in Africa.

Since the start of operations in 2001, AWDF has provided US$17 million in grants to 800 women’s organizations in 42 African countries. AWDF’s grant making processes are uniquely designed to meet the needs of African women and include the provision of small grants[1] ($1000-$5000) to community-based organizations, main grants ($8,000- $50,000), capacity building support and a strong focus on movement building.

Members of AWDF’s staff and board provide capacity building support to grantee partners through convenings, monitoring, and evaluation visits as well as technical assistance to numerous national, regional and international processes. Advocacy and policy development are key areas of activity to support and embed the outcomes of our grant making in national and international legislation, and in development processes more generally.  Examples of our support to key development processes  include presentations to the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women Expert Group Meeting on financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women (2007); acting as a thematic lead for the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace & Security (co-convened by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Tarja Halonen of Finland in 2009); and co-convening the first pan African assembly of the African GrantMakers Network in 2010.

Vision & Mission

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights.   The vision of AWDF is for women to live in a world where there is social justice, equality and respect for women’s human rights. To this end, our mission is to mobilise financial, human and material resources to support African women and the work of the African women’s movement to advance women’s rights and gender equality in Africa.   We believe that If women and women’s organisations are empowered with skills, information, sustainable livelihoods, opportunities to fulfill their potential, plus the capacity and space to make transformatory choices, then we will have vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities.

Grant Making

AWDF provides grants in the following thematic areas:

  • Women’s Human Rights
  • Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods
  • Governance, Peace and Security
  • Health and Reproductive  Rights
  • Arts, Culture and Sports

10 years of leadership and empowerment for African women have resulted in:

  •  A grant making portfolio of over 800 women’s organizations, networks and coalitions in 42 African countries.
  • A focused, holistic and diverse grant making portfolio which ensures that AWDF addresses the breadth and depth of women’s realities.
  • A nuanced and flexible approach to grant making in Africa by an African foundation which practices feminist principles, ensuring relevant and responsive grant making to its constituencies.
  • Recognition of AWDF’s innovation, effectiveness and leadership as the recipient of numerous international awards.
  • A uniquely feminist organization that has successfully countered the stereotypical images of African women as helpless victims and promoted the reality of African women as active agents of change, by communicating their achievements through publications and other resources including: ‘Voice, Power and Soul: Portraits of African Feminists[2], and ‘Creating Spaces & Amplifying Voices: The First Ten Years of the African Women’s Development Fund
  • A leading voice in civil society with a history of successful and effective collaborations and partnerships with a diverse constituency of actors critical to advancing women’s rights in Africa.
  • The development of good practice models for movement building as conveners of the ground breaking African Feminist Forum, which  is regarded as one of the most influential innovations for women’s rights movement building to have emerged in recent years.
  • Playing a leading role in the development of an African agenda for philanthropy as co-founders of the African GrantMakers Network
  • Establishing an Endowment Fund for organizational sustainability

Over the past 10 years, AWDF has provided a much needed autonomous resource base to ensure that the needs, aspirations and contributions of African women are recognized, supported and valued. In partnership with our stakeholders, AWDF looks forward to another ten years of strategic grant making for the advancement of women’s rights in Africa, for strengthened women’s leadership, for better health, education and economic security for African women and for social justice in Africa.


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