The world is on fire. There is no more denying what we are seeing and what we are experiencing. Whether we are reeling from the impact of the climate crisis in Brazil, or the compounded effects of systemic racism against people of African descent and indigenous, people in the United States, or whether the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the rise in the military complex is affecting the price of bread for low-income families in Africa. The urgency of this global moment calls for urgency in how we walk alongside and support communities most at risk from the multiplicity of crises we are facing. Women and communities of African descent are increasingly at the forefront of bearing the brunt of these crises. Within this context, how then can a philanthropic system that is socially distanced from lived realities be reimagined in a way that inspires society out of crisis at this moment?
TrustAfrica and Urgent Action-Africa have been supporting the cross-section of this constituency for over 20 years. In 2022, we took matters into our own hands and committed our general funds to Re-Imagining Pan-African and Feminist Philanthropies at a time when resources are critical to supporting these communities. We were clear that something fundamental that has been at the centre of why and how we channel resources in solidarity needed to be clearly articulated and named as a narrative that needs to be understood, socialized and embraced in the philanthropic centre.
In July 2022, 50 leading Pan-African and feminist activists met in Naivasha, Kenya to advance thinking, narratives, and practice that could culminate in a shared advocacy agenda. Out of this meeting the Naivasha Principles, a draft Narratives frameworkand a working definition of Pan-African and Feminist philanthropy were established to support the transformation of philanthropic practice and bolster the support offered for Pan-African and feminist organizing. The Narratives and Principles address ideologies, approaches and practices that are ingrained culturally in how mainstream philanthropy is exercised and experienced. While the nomenclature and trend around power and trust have been increasingly circulating in the sector over the past few years, these values have been intrinsic to how philanthropy has been exercised in the Pan-African and feminist space for decades. These are namely values that recognize the agency and organizing power of our constituencies as central to advancing philanthropic solidarity towards a just society.
Today this journey continues as we write this blog from a follow-up Pan-African and Feminist Philanthropies Indaba, with some progressive funding actors and leading pan-African and feminist activists on the continent to make practical and substantive commitments reflective of the ideological shift in the way we are showing up in the sector. We are asking the challenging questions about ethical philanthropy and resource justice; dismantling philanthropic privilege and the fundamental transformations needed to advance a truly Pan-African and Feminist philanthropy. We are asking political questions about the access and use by feminist and social justice movements of philanthropic resources. There are no easy answers, but this collaborative endeavour anchored by TrustAfrica and Urgent Action Fund-Africa is ready to build a concrete roadmap to find and embody the answers to these questions.
With a collective commitment and strong international solidarity around the Pan-African and feminist agenda, we aspire to influence a new global philanthropic narrative that centres agency, solidarity, independence and collective power that we see being eroded daily by divisive and exclusionary political, economic, and social systems.
As unapologetically embedded actors in this philanthropic and social change space, we are intuitively embodying the movement approach from our Pan-African and feminist roots, as we interrogate and seek to influence the conversation around the politics behind the use of resources in solidarity with a social justice agenda.
The nexus between the crises and opportunities we face in this global moment underscores the need for a fundamental reimagining of systemic structures. Pan-African and Feminist philanthropic approaches centre solidarity and a redistribution of resources and power based on values of equity, collective humanity, and agency. This is at a moment where the urgency for global philanthropy to fundamentally rethink its role in advancing an agenda for equity, justice and wellness of communities most impacted by structural injustices is critical. As TrustAfrica and Urgent Action Fund-Africa, we consider it a privilege and a great responsibility to be on the frontline of anchoring this process to move philanthropy to be more of a transformative force in altering the trajectories of the challenges we face.