Our Goals

Our Strategy

Our Networking and Advocacy Efforts

About SAWF

The South Asia Women’s Fund (SAWF) was founded in 2004 to support women’s rights groups and activists in the South Asian countries of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

We are a regional women’s Fund, committed to supporting women-led interventions to enhance and strengthen access to women’s human rights and countering violations thereof. We envision a peaceful and egalitarian region in which women’s participation, leadership and enjoyment of all their human rights is ensured and secure.

Our core mandate is to support women’s rights groups and activists in South Asia, address the non-availability of resources for women's rights work in the region, and support strategies and interventions designed, implemented and led by women.

We provide fiscal and technical support to our partners, specifically in the context of conflict, identity, socio-economic deprivations, and in relation to violence against women. We aim to move towards developing a regional mandate, which is informed by national realities, and is responsive to the rights and needs of the individual woman.

As of 2017, our geographical scope has expanded to include countries in Asia. We will be supporting women’s human rights work in:

South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan

South-East Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam

East Asia: Mongolia

Over the last decade, SAWF has supported around 200 initiatives at the sub-national level in the region, ensuring human rights for a diverse cross-section of women. This support has included technical resources along with critical fiscal resources, for both women's rights groups and donors. We also foster effective programme designing and process-oriented strategies, to nurture not only the implementers but also the constituencies, which comprise women at the community level.

In a nutshell, our programming:

  • Promotes and supports the leadership of women at all levels, particularly those who belong to marginalised communities, and are from rural, disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Enables a strong understanding of human rights and rights-based approaches among women activists and women’s organisations in the region, which will inform programmatic intervention and implementation.
  • Triggers greater cross-learning and exchange between women’s organisations and activists in the region.

Our Strategy

Our present programme strategy reflects our learning from the field, and highlights our thematic focus. It builds on five key thematic components:

  • Strengthening Feminist Voices: To provide critical funding for institutional support, research, collaborations, travel (to conferences, meetings and workshops), on a wide cross-section of topics that relate to women's human rights. We aim to create and support spaces for discussions, exchange and learning at local, regional and national levels. This grant is primarily focused on community-level initiatives
  • Movement and Labour: To support initiatives across the region that challenge existing socio-cultural norms and notions that consider women and trans* people as powerless victims, and promotes rights-based approaches which center their agency and autonomy in decisions regarding their movement and/or labour
  • Autonomy, Decisions and Sexual Rights: To support interventions that are led by women and trans* people and focus on amplifying voices on a range of issues on sexuality, decision making and bodily autonomy
  • Access to Justice: To enhance and strengthen women's access to justice and countering violations of their human rights by investing in the capacity of a cadre of women lawyers to provide high-quality legal representation at the primary court levels across the region.
  • Influencing Philanthropy for Women’s Rights Work: To ensure that the women's movements in the region have sustainable access to resources to undertake their work, address their priorities through fundraising from both individual and institutional donors, as well as encourage greater share of resources for women's rights work in the region

Our Networking and Advocacy Efforts

Apart from grant-making and working with women’s human rights groups, we also focus on working with philanthropic networks, media, donors and sister funds to advocate for greater share of resources for women's rights work, seek greater political accountability for resourcing of the women's rights movements and claims, and on being an effective fund through collaborative work.

We have received committed and sustainable support from institutional donors such as Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Mama Cash, Foundation for a Just Society, American Jewish World Service, Flora Family Foundation and Filia.