Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going Dutch

Content and exchange were the key words to describe today's lunch, with the intriguing title "Going Dutch", sponsored by the Dutch Permanent Representation. In a build-up to the Dutch Announcement of the MDG3 fund, which will allocate €50 million over the next three and a half years, several excellent speakers took the floor.

Lydia Alpizar, Executive Director of AWID, eloquently addressed the distinction between funding and resourcing. Models of funding that have been used in the past have not worked because they were not based on resourcing the organizations. Civil society comes in many sizes and the different kinds of organizations can have a differently important impact on women's rights and women's equality. Funding mechanisms need to address these differences.

Ireen Dubel, speaking on behalf of Hivos, added that women's civil society organizations in all their diversity are the driving force for the agenda of women's rights and gender equality. They play a crucial role in social transformation processes. She explained that it is important that funders understand that these organizations are an important resource, next to governments. She applauded the Dutch government's approach to financing dissident voices, as innovation comes from having many different approaches and knowledge at the table.

When Robert Dijksterhuis of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the mike, a hush descended on the room. Influenced by powerful reports produced by the Dutch women's movement, and a strong lobby, the Minister has made funds available to support women's organizations for the coming 3,5 years. Will organizations be able to use this fund for the sustainable development of organizations, rather than simply for projects? Most definitely: in fact, it is the fervent hope of the ministry that organizations that submit plans to the fund ensure t hat they include adequate support for organizational development. And will it support networks? Most certainly: in fact, the fund has been developed to promote organizations working together.
The chair, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi of the African Women's Development Fund, wrapped up the meeting with a toast to the Dutch governemnt, commending them on their leadership in this important matter, the money matter. She expressed the hope that in four years, the fund will be topped up with a further €250,000 for the next three and a half year period. And by the way, the hosts did not ask the guests to pay the bill for the lunch. "Going Dutch" may well become known as an expression of hearty hosting.

'Mama Beijing' (Gertrude Mongella) takes the floor during the lively question and answer session.

Lin McDevitt-Pugh - IIAV

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