A case study of Channel funding was included in Supporting Inclusive Movements: Funding the Rights of Women with Disabilities, a 2017 Donor Brief that explores funding at the intersection of women’s rights and disability rights and offers steps donors can take to ensure that their grantmaking is more inclusive of women with disabilities and to support this emerging movement.
Channel Foundation started funding the rights of women with disabilities by supporting the launch of Mobility International USA (MIUSA)’s first Seed Grants Program in 2012 in conjunction with their multi-week Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), designed to build capacity and strengthen the emerging global, cross-disability movement. Recognizing the potential for WILD graduates to create wide ripples of change, MIUSA devised a program to get funds directly to these activists for projects of their own creation. The program was designed to encourage inclusion and “infiltration” of the mainstream and emphasize rights not charity: the seed grants facilitate partnerships between women leaders with disabilities and non-disability development and human rights organizations. As one example:
- Action on Youth with Disability for Development in Cambodia used a seed grant of $1,000 to implement a workshop (in partnership with Girl Guides Association of Cambodia and others) for 106 young people with and without disabilities, covering the rights, experiences, and relevant laws pertaining to girls and women with disabilities, as well as examples of successful leadership. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs publicly recognized the workshop and the need for full inclusion of women with disabilities in development planning processes. Local media shared the experiences of girls and women with disabilities with an even broader audience.
As a small donor, Channel would never have been able to identify and develop relationships with each of the advocates on their own, nor could they have administered so many small grants. In addition, Channel invited other partners to WILD graduate-sponsored events that focused on convening and powerfully highlighting women activists with disabilities.
More on the impact of MIUSA’s seed grants:
- MIUSA highlighted the Power of WILD Seed Grants with an assessment of the program’s impact from 2012-2017 saying the program “[put our] infiltration strategy to the test” and supported 37 WILD alumni in 33 countries by 2017.
- MIUSA’s Brilliant & Resilient photo exhibit gatherings brought together women activists with disabilities and mainstream organizations in Mexico, El Salvador and Panama.
- Video highlighting WILD in Panama.
- Additional seed grant examples include the following:
- Agrupación Regional de Personas Viviendo con el VIH/SIDA (ARPEVIH) and WILD graduate Vianney Sierralta used a seed grant of $1,000 to produce three videos about: the rights of people who live with HIV/AIDS; sexual and reproductive rights of women; HIV/AIDS prevention for Deaf women; and Chilean law on HIV/AIDS in sign language. It was the first time in Chile that this information has been made available and publicly promoted in a video format utilizing Chilean Sign language interpretation and subtitles.
- TEJAS, a self-advocacy group for women with disabilities in India, collaborated with international and national mainstream women’s organizations to create an information package on reproductive health, reproductive rights, and sexuality for women with disabilities. This was the first time that information on sexuality and reproductive health was developed in accessible formats to suit the access needs of women with different disabilities in India. The project also educated the involved mainstream organizations on disability issues through the process, so that they will include women with disabilities in their future activities, programs and services.