New Transformation Partnerships:

Addressing the Root Causes of Global Gender Equality

Over the past two years, Together Women Rise has taken steps to put our commitment to global gender equality front and center – in our new mission and vision statements, gender equality beliefs, and our powerful new name and logo. We have always been about empowering women and girls around the world … our new messaging ensures that our purpose and our impact – global gender equality – are clear to everyone!

Even before the disastrous effects of COVID on women and girls, we knew there was still a long way to go to achieve a gender equal world. The pandemic has now set back the progress that had been made, making our work even more urgent!

More than a year ago — as part of our strategic plan — we established a committee of board, staff, and members of our volunteer Grant Selection Committee to research how to make the biggest impact on global gender equality, using current best practices in grant making. This type of review has always been important to evaluate our impact in light of lessons learned.  Continuing evaluation and evolution led to our Sustained Grants in 2012 and then our Impact Partnerships (with the Peace Corps and UNICEF) since 2016.

Now, we are launching our new Transformation Partnerships that will build on the successes and lessons from our Sustained and Impact Partnership Grants and will allow us to better address the root causes of global gender equality.

“If we are ever to truly achieve global gender equality, we must address the social and cultural norms, beliefs, practices, and laws that prevent women from having equal access to resources, decision-making power, and opportunity,” said Jo DeBolt, Board Vice Chair, and Chair of the multi-stakeholder committee examining our Grants Program.  “Transformation Partnerships will allow us to work in new ways with organizations creating this type of fundamental change.”

Our Featured Grants will not change. We will continue to fund a monthly Featured Grant and provide a wide range of learning materials on the featured country, issue, and project. Our Sustained Grants and Impact Partnerships will be replaced by the new Transformation Partnerships, which will use the funding previously allocated to Sustained and Impact Partnership Grants.

“Our Featured Grants will continue to focus on delivering direct services to women and girls, whereas our Transformation Partnerships will create broader, systemic change in order to achieve global gender equality,” said Veena Khandke, Director of Grants and Partnerships.

For example, a Featured Grant might fund an organization providing micro business loans to women, while a Transformation Partnership might focus on working with banks and other lenders to change lending criteria in order to remove barriers for women. (For more info on systemic change, please see the November and December blogs written by Scott Osborne, long-time member of our Grant Selection Commitee.)

This is just one of many possible examples of how our Featured Grants and Transformation Partnerships can complement each other in the future. Our priority will be to work with past grantees who are pursuing systems change, although we may also work with new partners. We are currently talking with potential partners and will have more to communicate in the New Year.

As we implement our new Transformation Partnerships in the coming months, we will follow current best practices in the field of “participatory grant making”. It will be all about supporting, learning from, and creating true, equal partnerships with our grantees. “These partnerships will lead to more informed and more effective funding decisions,” said Jo DeBolt. “We are excited about the opportunities this will create for our community – members, donors, and grantees together – to make an even bigger difference in how the world works for women and girls.”

We will complete our three-year commitments to our Sustained Grantees at the end of 2021, and our new Transformation Partnerships will be launched in 2022. Please watch for future communications as we move forward with these new Transformation Partnerships. In the meantime, we have prepared FAQs to address some anticipated questions about this new initiative, and we welcome additional questions or comments at