The Joint Gender Fund (JGF) is a collaborative funding mechanism between Irish Aid, HIVOS, Ford Foundation, DG Murray Trust and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (previously known as CIDA). It was established in 2008 and emerged from a commitment to enhance the impact of funding in the field of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, whilst giving meaning to the principles of harmonization, alignment and results based programming. The Fund facilitates and builds operational and strategic cohesion between the five donors and aims towards strengthening the sector’s response to GBV by contributing towards bolstering the capacity for more integrated, comprehensive and transformative approaches.
What makes the JGF unique?
- It provides a mechanism through which harmonization can be put into practice. Whilst the principle of harmonization is often referred to, participating bilateral donors and foundations have grappled strategically and operationally with what this means in practice. Despite different frameworks it has managed to knit a strategic and operational framework that is meeting the current needs of its constituting donors.
- It has set out to improve the strategic impact of gender-based violence funding through encouraging integrated, inter-sectoral responses, which contributes towards strengthening the capacity of the sector. This is an on-going process of fine tuning its analysis and corresponding tools to support initiatives that address GBV programme interventions within the context of wider contextual factors shaping its manifestations and responses with a specific focus on poverty, HIV and AIDS and wider gender related and social inequalities.
- It specifically seeks to support initiatives that may have traditionally been focusing on HIV and AIDS programming, and make the linkages between these responses and GBV explicit, thereby strengthening both GBV and HIV and AIDS programming in the country. There are a number of synergies between the requirements for an effective response to HIV and AIDS and a response to GBV e.g. the linkages with poverty, the importance of understanding gender inequality and patriarchy as key drivers of both HIV and GBV and the JGF through its support to partners sees itself as contributing towards strengthening these synergies.
- Noting that increased collaboration between government and civil society is important in strengthening the national response to GBV the JGF has set out to support initiatives that engage with government through partnerships and/or that strengthen civil society’s capacity to hold government accountable for implementation and service delivery. Whilst participating donors may engage differently with the government of South Africa, the JGF provides a unique space that recognizes that different relationships between civil society and government is required for increased effectiveness in the response to GBV.
- The JGF seeks to contribute towards strengthening the response to GBV overall by the sector through contributing towards strengthening its capacity for more integrated, comprehensive, innovative and transformative approaches to GBV. Whilst clearly defining its understanding of these terms in the PMF, it continually learns what this means in practice through engagement with its partners.
Benefits to donors
The JGF provides:
- An opportunity for donors to pool their resources and increase their level of investment with greater potential for improved impact.
- An operational mechanism through which funds can be disbursed in an effective and efficient way which saves on transactional costs, thereby allowing donors to concentrate on the strategic focus of their grant-making.
- A mechanism through which donors can engage in dialogue on developments in the GBV field to further inform their grant-making.
- A platform for learning between development partners and for the sector as a whole.
Partnerships with civil society
With a focus on prevention, whilst recognising the important inter linkages between prevention and response and the importance of supporting initiatives that are holistic in their approaches, the JGFhas partnerships with the following organizations currently: Umvoti Aids Centre (KZN), NAMKO (NC) , Ikhwezi Women Support Centre (EC), Rural Development Support Programme (NC) New World Foundation (WC), Justice and Women (KZN), Southern Cape Land Committee, Thusanang Advice Centre, Labour Research Services, Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (National and NC), Lifeline Pietermaritzburg, NISAA, Rape Crisis Centre, Port Elizabeth, Sinamandla (KZN), Sekwele Centre for Social Reflection (FS), Project Empower (KZN), People Opposing Women Abuse (National and FS), 1 in 9 campaign (KZN), Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre (EC), TVEP (LP) and SAFFI ( National and Southern Cape).