How To Obtain African Women Development Fund

How To Obtain African Women Development Fund

How To Obtain African Women Development Fund

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights. By specializing in grant-making and focused, tailored movement-building programmes, they work to strengthen and support the work of African women’s organisations.

By amplifying and celebrating African women’s voices and achievements, AWDF supports efforts that combat harmful stereotypes, and promote African women as active agents of change.


The vision of AWDF is to have a world where all African women live in peace, with dignity and justice and where there is equality and respect for women’s rights.

Their mission is to mobilise financial, human and material resources to support initiatives for transformation led by African women, women’s rights organisations and African women’s movements.


Respect: They believe in the person-hood of African women, and that our rights are an inalienable, indivisible and integral part of universal human rights. They listen to women and respect their knowledge, perspectives and diverse experiences. They believe in acknowledging, valuing and rewarding women’s paid and unpaid labor in private and public. They believe in women’s bodily integrity and full autonomy.

Diversity: They believe in non-discrimination, proactive inclusiveness and diversity in all areas of AWDF’s operations and programmes. They believe in unleashing a full range of women’s creativity and promoting holistic/total confidence in all women, and particularly with young women and women who are discriminated against in multiple and intersecting ways.

Feminist Leadership: They believe in nurturing feminist principles and promoting feminist leadership. They believe in investing in young women’s leadership, and promoting inter-generational transfers of skills and knowledge. They believe in creating and sustaining spaces where women can thrive and achieve their full potential, and where their voices can be amplified.

Professionalism, Accountability and Stewardship: They believe in the growth and long-term sustainability of organisations led and managed by women in transparent and progressive ways. As fundraisers and grant makers they believe in prudent, ethical and responsible stewardship of all funds and resources in their care. AWDF will encourage positive approaches to individual and collective physical, emotional and intellectual well-being and all staff, board and volunteers of AWDF will act with integrity and professionalism, promoting respectful relationships in all their dealings.

Solidarity and Partnerships: They believe that change happens through collective action. They are committed to building African women’s and feminist movements, and recognize that this organizing is linked to movements for justice and equality across the world. Their work is linked to that of global Women’s Movements which have worked hard for gains for women, and are sustained by the voices, hands and work of women from all over the world. They work in solidarity and through multiple partnerships to dismantle discriminatory and patriarchal systems and push for transformation toward equality.

AWDF defines what it means to feel the pain of other women but also to celebrate womanhood. AWDF has taught us not to apologize and explain for what they do to create opportunities for women.


In the year 2000, three women, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Joana Foster and Hilda Tadria created a philanthropic organisation focused on making measurable change in African women’s lives.

Inspired by the aspirations of the African women’s movement, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) was created as an independent resource for gender equality and development across the continent.

Today, AWDF’s grant making practices are built to support the initiatives of African women who may not have access to mainstream funding due to capacity, language, location, and marginalization. In fact, the AWDF has served as a key donor to 60 percent of grantees who experienced serious challenges to sustainable funding.



Hilda Tadria is one of AWDF’s founding members. She is an experienced researcher and consultant with a background in institutional management and social development research.

While lecturing as an Associate Professor at Makerere University, she founded Action for Development, an NGO working to empower women and influence legislation and policy for gender equality in Uganda. She also founded the Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for young Women (MEMPROW), a programme for developing young women’s leadership and promoting their rights within learning institutions in Uganda.


Joana Foster is one of the founding members of AWDF who supported social justice initiatives for over thirty years. She was a lawyer specializing in Women’s Civil and Political Rights and Immigration.

Joana was a Trustee of the Child Poverty Action Group, and the Country Director of CUSO Ghana, a Canadian non-profit organisation. She was also the regional coordinator of Women In Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), a pan-African network dedicated to linking law and development to support women’s human rights. Joana was one of the founders of the Gender and Human Rights Documentation Centre. Sadly, Joana passed away in November 2016.


BisiAdeleye-Fayemi is a Feminist activist, with experience as a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur, Policy Advocate, Politician, Social Change Philanthropy Practitioner, Communications Specialist and Social Sector expert. She is Principal Partner, Amandla Consulting, specializing in leadership development for women, and she runs an online community for women called She is a UN Women Nigeria Advisor. She served as the Director of Akina Mama waAfrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women based in London, UK, from 1991-2001. During her time at AMwA, she started the African Women’s Leadership Institute which has supported over 6,000 women leaders in Africa over the past twenty years. She is one of the three Co-Founders of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and served as the first Executive Director from 2001-2010.

Her leadership established AWDF as a leading institution in the area of social change philanthropy in Africa, and as one of the most effective feminist philanthropic institutions globally. She is also one of the founders of the African Feminist Forum and served on the AFF Working Group from 2006-2016.She is the recipient of the 2011 David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of philanthropy, given by the Synergos Institute, New York. In June 2011, the New African Magazine named Bisi as one of the 100 Most Influential People of Africa.


In 2001, AWDF was founded with contributions from individual African women, and these generous organisations:

  • Carnegie Corporation
  • The Global Fund For Women
  • Ford Foundation
  • Comic Relief
  • Global Ministries – United Methodist Church
  • Mama Cash
  • Match International

They appreciate the dedicated contributions of their donors to resource African Women’s Movements. Since 2001, AWDF has been supported by close to 80 institutional as well as some corporate and individual donors. In 2018, AWDF was supported by the following institutional donors:

  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Stephen Lewis Foundation
  • Ford Foundation
  • Anonymous Institutional Donor
  • Foundation for a Just Society
  • NoVo Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation
  • Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • Comic Relief
  • Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
  • Safe Abortion Action Fund (AWDF Acted as a Fiscal Sponsor)
  • Mamacash
  • Both Ends
  • Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds
  • Global Fund for Women
  • Global Affairs Canada



AWDF’s grantmaking ensures resources reach the hundreds of African women’s organisations that are working in diverse ways to improve the lives of women and African society at large.

Their grantmaking is innovative, flexible and creative. Through their grants they support both established and small, locally based women’s organisations. They also provide specialised funding to facilitate learning and networking opportunities and to celebrate the contributions and achievements of many un-sung African heroines.

AWDF focuses its grants in three specific areas. These are defined by the different facets of work that ensure that the needs, aspirations and contributions of African women are recognised, supported and valued.


Leading from the South Fund is a global grant making programme aimed at providing support to women’s organisations, groups and movements around the world to lobby and advocate for their rights. Initiated in 2017 and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the fund supports activism devised, implemented and led by women’s rights organisations in the global South. It is jointly managed by three regional women’s funds and one global women’s fund, each with an independent yet complimentary approach.

The Four administrators of the fund are:

  • African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF): Africa and the Middle East
  • FondoMujeres del Sur (FMS): Latin America
  • South Asia Women’s Fund (SAWF): Asia Pacific
  • FIMI International Indigenous Women’s Forum (AYNI): Global Indigenous Women

In the Global South, women’s organisations and networks play a crucial role in influencing the policies of governments, leaders, communities and other actors to achieve Global Goal no. 5: gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. LFS promotes cross-border cooperation and connects grassroots organisations with national, regional and global networks and movements.

Through grants, capacity development, and lobbying and advocacy, LFS will help equip organisations to influence policy, tackle power imbalances and reduce exclusion, violence, discrimination and inequality.


Through out the year, AWDF invites applications from eligible African women’s organisations under its main grants programme. The areas that they fund (their thematic areas) are listed below. These frame AWDF’s current funding strategy Shaping Africa’s Future;

  • Body & Health Rights
  • Economic Security & Justice
  • Leadership, Participation & Peace

AWDF is particularly interested in projects working with young women, women facing multiple discrimination, and approaches that include engaging the arts, culture, sports and technology.

AWDF is looking for innovative and effective projects that address the needs of and involve the women and communities most affected by inequality and injustice in the leadership and implementation of projects.

Eligibility Criteria

The basic qualifying criteria for applying organisations are as follows:

  • Must be led by a woman and have majority of its staff and board being women
  • Must be duly registered in an African country
  • Must have been in existence for at least 3 years
  • Must have the needed organisational structures for effective implementation of the project
  • Must have an appreciable financial management system to properly account for funds received
  • Must be capable of reporting back on the outcomes of the project
  • Must complete the necessary application forms

Please note that AWDF does NOT fund men-led organisations; political parties or campaigning; government agencies; individuals; scholarships; for-profit initiatives and projects aimed at religious conversion or proselytizing.

Please see below for Application forms and Guidelines:

Who can apply?

AWDF was founded to support the leadership and agency of African women in transforming society towards equality and justice. In that light, under its main grants programme, AWDF supports African women’s organisations that meet the following criteria:

  • Women-led, with a majority women staff and board
  • A stated commitment to supporting women and/or advancing women’s rights/ gender
  • equality in their mission/vision
  • Organisations registered in any African country, and working at the local, national, sub-regional or regional African levels. (Note that AWDF is not able to transfer funds to organisations based in Sudan, South Sudan or Somalia. However AWDF is able to support organisations based in other African countries that are implementing initiatives in these countries).

What types of grant requests do they support?

AWDF will award grants to organisations working to advance progress in the thematic areas specified above. AWDF accepts requests for project funding however encourages applicants to incorporate adequate budget to cover core operating costs.

 AWDF also awards capacity building grants that focus on advancing organisational growth and development – for example strategic planning, developing fundraising and communications strategies, strengthening organisational governance systems and human resources management.

Activities to be considered for funding

  • Campaigns to advance specific women’s rights agendas, law and policy change
  • Training to build core social change and activist skills
  • Action-research and knowledge production
  • Alliance and movement-building activities
  • Interventions to change public attitudes on key women’s rights issues\
  • Services to advance women’s rights (including legal aid, violence support services, counselling and free medical services for HIV, cancers and other women’s health concerns)
  • Income generation activities that include a focus on increasing women’s understanding of their rights and/or building their social and political leadership.

Activities not eligible for funding:

  • Party-political campaigning
  • Activities aimed at proselytizing/religious conversion
  • Scholarships
  • Grants to individuals
  • Construction and purchase of buildings and land

The AWDF will not support the following:

  • Organisations that aim to convert people to any religious belief
  • Political parties or women’s wings of political parties
  • Individuals
  • Government departments
  • Scholarships and fellowships for academic studies
  • Organisations that are not led by women

READ ALSO: How to obtain Grofin Fund for Startup Businesses

Grant sizes

Grant sizes vary per call. Please refer to the maximum grant sizes indicated in the call for applications you are responding to. Organisations applying for grants of US $20,000 and above will be required to provide audit report conducted by a reputable audit firm.

Note that AWDF will only consider grants amounts that are less than 50% of an organisation’s annual income as evident in the latest annual audit statements.

What they look for in grant applications:

  • Applying organisations should preferably have been in existence for at least three years.
  • Organisations have to produce evidence (relevant certificates) to show their legal existence
  • Organisations should show how the funding proposal fits into the organisation’s overall strategy for the area of work or community in which it is located.
  • Organisations have to demonstrate how their work fits into either a local, national or regional strategy for the empowerment of African women.
  • Applying organisations should have basic organisational systems and structures in place. For example a constitution, Strategic plan and financial reports.
  • The organisation should have a clear evaluation plan for the project – including what you aim to achieve and to change, and measures to track progress
  • Plans for sustainability including raising additional or further funding to keep the initiative going
  • Organisation should be able to demonstrate that they can manage funds and account for them in a transparent manner.

How to apply

Interested organisations should send in their proposals to the AWDF secretariat in Accra, Ghana, using the grant application form which can be downloaded at Applications can be sent in English, French, or Portuguese, by email, or post. Please note that they accept applications by email at .

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