Our program targets Central America and the United States. The countries of Central America are recognized as some of the toughest places in the world to be female. The vast majority of girls and women have little access to quality education, health care, including sexual and reproductive health care, jobs, or the justice system. 80% of rural girls in Guatemala and Honduras never finish secondary school. Around 25% of girls become mothers before age 19. Rates of gender-based violence and femicide are among the world’s highest.
The US also compares unfavorably to peer countries on gender equality due to persistent racial and ethnic discrimination. Black, Indigenous and other women and girls of color (BIWOC) experience lower pregnancy survival rates, pay disparity, and limited access to proper health care and schools in the US. The Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade diminished the standing of all women, but disproportionately impacted BIWOC and youth.
Formal and informal education builds girls’ agency, life skills, and self-efficacy. Our grantees work alongside formal education or provide programs to girls in and out of school. They encourage girls to rejoin or stay in school through secondary level. Successful programs connect girls to each other, provide them with community mentors, and reach parents, teachers, and community leaders to revise harmful gender norms.
Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information is critical to the health of adolescents and youth. We fund grantees whose programs or policy advocacy improve access to affordable, youth-friendly, and culturally appropriate services and information. Critically important topics include forming healthy relationships, and preventing unintended pregnancy, STIs, and gender-based violence.
Child, early, and forced marriage and unions are too prevalent throughout Central America and affect some girls in the US. We support grantees that address the gender inequality that drives these problematic unions, which often end girls’ formal education and feature unequal unions with older men. Our grantees work at the individual, community, and national levels, while fully respecting adolescents’ right to healthy sexuality.
Men perpetuate ingrained patterns of discrimination and violence against women. These patterns result in individual and systemic barriers to gender equality. Over the last two decades, promising initiatives originating in Brazil and Nicaragua have transformed harmful gender norms and stereotypes and provide the promise of future progress. Our grantees work with boys and men on these “healthy masculinities” approaches to transform their attitudes, relationships, communities, and beyond.
Restraints at the family, community, and national levels affect women’s ability to pursue a livelihood of their choice, forming a pernicious barrier to gender equality. Our grantees provide soft and hard skills to women and girls to enhance their current or future ability to secure their own and their families’ well-being and contribute to their local economy.
When empowered to do so, young people will drive positive changes to discriminatory social norms. We work with youth-led organizations and those committed to empowering youth to expand their engagement as the leaders and drivers of improved gender equality, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice.
Coercive political actors and the threat of violence are present throughout Central America. Local civil society organizations working to advance gender equality have been targeted, alongside others fighting for human rights and social justice. These organizations urgently need support building their capacity and that of regional networks. We support grantees and multi-funder initiatives committed to strengthening these mission-critical capacities.
Photo © Carol Guzy on Assignment for Ripple Effect Images/COINCIDIR
Photo © Angelica Aguilar/FUNDAECO
Photo © FUNDAECO
Photo © Livvy Runyon/MAIA
Photo © Danessy Reyes/FUNDAECO
Photo © Marvin Corrales/UDIMUF
Women and girls across the globe continue to face barriers to gender equality. While first articulated as a global goal 75 years ago as part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Secretary General António Guterres noted on International Women’s Day in March 2023 that progress on reaching gender equality is “vanishing before our eyes” and that “it will take another 300 years to reach [it],” according to latest forecasts.
Anti-gender equality movements are a threat to progress, and negative economic and health forces like the global pandemic have caused further setbacks for millions of girls and women. It has never been more important to renew momentum for gender equality, equity, and justice.
Summit targets our grantmaking in Central America and the US because of inadequate progress on gender equality indicators compared to peer countries, which is driven largely by opposition to the full and equal standing of women and girls as well as racial, ethnic, economic, and other inequities.
Summit has longstanding grantees focused exclusively in Guatemala, Honduras or Belize, along with several working throughout Central America and Latin America.
We began a new US strategy in 2021. Our grantees include BIWOC-led organizations working on state-based or regional gender equality and justice.
Our grantees include grassroots and locally-based organizations, as well as larger international, regional, and US national groups. Some describe themselves as gender justice, feminist, racial justice, youth empowerment, or sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice organizations. Most of our grantees are recognized as charities by the US government or have equivalent status, to enable us to provide flexible funding, but we also support some locally-registered organizations doing critical gender equality work. Our international, regional, and US national-level grantees strive to provide financial and other support to nascent local groups.
Our grantees work with girls and boys, women and men, families, teachers, health providers, community leaders, and national policy makers to combat the various forces working against gender equality. Many of their efforts focus on remote or low-income areas of Central America or on policy reform to improve thousands of lives. Our US grantees are working on gender equality and justice or sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice, particularly in communities or states where those goals are most threatened.
We prioritize supporting community-based and youth-led or -serving organizations which know the local context and are committed to accelerating the achievement of gender equality. We also seek out nascent organizations with potential to grow and deeply impact gender equality locally.
Our grantees provide or enable direct health or educational services to address population-level needs as well as leadership development of young people and future movement leaders. More than one third of our grantees prioritize public policy advocacy to advance gender equality and justice. Some grantees focus on network and coalition building, and many provide sub-grants and capacity building to organizations working to expand the impact of their core work.