The Feminist Innovation Fund: Resourcing Climate Justice through a Feminist Lens

In 2021, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights piloted a new funding initiative, the Feminist Innovation Fund. This past year, the Fund’s main focus was to resource feminist movements across regions to pilot intersectional projects highlighting gender and climate justice, focusing on the growing of feminist movements and bringing marginalized voices (including women, LGBTQI communities, persons with disabilities) into the climate conversation.

The impetus for this funding was the fact that resources and support for women-led climate work has historically been very siloed, with funders supporting women’s rights work and climate work separately, but with very little money going to the intersection of those two issues. In general, funders haven’t seen climate as a feminist issue, when in reality, women are uniquely impacted by climate change and are essential in identifying and implementing solutions that benefit all people on earth.

In the first year of the Feminist Innovation Fund, we received 100 applications, and made 24 grants, awarding $448,000 in 17 countries. 14 of the grants were awarded to groups who had never before received a grant from UAF, while 10 went to repeat partners. 16 of the organizations were less than 5 years old, and 15 of the organizations had budgets below $50,000. The majority of grants supported Indigenous women, girls, and rural women, helping with movement building, convenings and trainings, and activism around natural disasters, land grabbing, and challenging government policies. 

Notably, the grants were made with an intersectional approach, connecting the rights of sex workers, persons with disabilities, Indigenous communities, and feminist movements with climate justice. 

Below are two examples of grants made through the Feminist Innovation Fund:

Spreading Seeds for Growth in Palestine

The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library used a grant from UAF to purchase land in Palestine and plant heirloom and traditional seeds, keeping the crops safe from occupation. Part of the Fertile Crescent, Palestine has been considered one of the world’s centers of diversity, particularly for wheat and barley. This biodiversity is being threatened by policies that target farmers and force them to give up their heirloom seeds and adopt new varieties. The group seeks to preserve and promote heritage and threatened seed varieties, traditional Palestinian farming practices, and the cultural stories and identities associated with them

Reimagining the Medical Industrial Complex on Behalf of Climate

Grantee partner Health Justice Commons used a grant from UAF to run a political education series exposing the connection between the medical industrial complex and corporate polluters. The current medical industrial complex profits from widespread disease, environmental destruction, and racism, as many areas seriously affected by pollution directly impact communities of color. Health Justice Commons works at the intersections of disability, racial, gender, and climate aiming to re-imagine and redesign the medical industrial complex in the United States. 

UAF will be doing another round of grantmaking through the Feminist Innovation Fund. Stay tuned for updates!