Mediteranean Women’s Fund
The Mediterranean Women’s Fund was founded in 2008 by feminists from Algeria, Spain, Morocco and France in order to provide support to women’s rights organisations from around the Mediterranean region. The fund supports women’s organisations and initiatives with financial support, helps them to build fundraising skills, and stimulates networking among groups. Close collaboration with associations and networks enables the fund to keep pace with the many changes that are happening on many levels in the region.
The Mediterranean, as the birthplace of the three monotheistic world religions, has been a cultural whole for many centuries. Fundamentalist forces for all three religions are influential to a stronger or a lesser degree in many of the countries, which means a restriction of women’s rights. While laws in the countries on the North of the Mediterranean are more egalitarian than in countries on the South and East, patriarchy is a phenomenon that is nonetheless omnipresent in the entire region and has impact on women’s free choices, both in their private and their public lives.
From 2010 on, developments have been tumultuous. On the Southern shores the so-called ‘Arab Springs’ spread out over the region with remarkable speed and apparent short-term effects. Also, on the Northern shores of the Mediterranean, due to the financial crisis, there are major changes in many countries, like unemployment and poverty—which also affect gains made for women’s rights.
In this environment, many new women’s rights groups have emerged which are still quite fragile. In response to these changes, the Mediterranean Women’s Fund has convened and co-convened a series of different meetings of women’s rights activists with the aim to provide a safe space for strategic reflection, networking and planning. These have taken place in Egypt in 2011 and Tunisia and Algeria in 2012, collectively bringing together over thirty women’s rights organisations. Additionally, the Mediterranean Women’s Fund has provided funding to various women’s rights organisations in countries such as Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Croatia and Tunisia that are working on sexuality education and sexual rights, anti-trafficking, and leadership training of young women and girls.
The Mediterranean Women’s Fund received multi-year grants from 2008 – 2010 and from 2009 -2013.