New dedicated fund for women's groups

A fund for UK women's groups will launch next month in response to what has been described as a national crisis of funding for the sector.

The fund will be established by Maggie Baxter, former grants director and deputy chief executive of Comic Relief and executive director of Womankind Worldwide. It aims to attract income from major philanthropic donors – particularly wealthy women – among other sources. A director will be appointed once the fund isa up and running, and Baxter will move onto the board as a trustee.

“Funding for women’s groups is chronically low,” said Baxter. “The women’s sector fills a need, and women’s violence charities in particular need to build strength.”

A report by New Philanthropy Capital, published last month, estimated the cost to society of violence against women at £40bn a year. A 2006 survey by the charity Women’s Resource Centre found that 18,000 women’s groups were on course to close before 2009 because of a lack of funds. The number of Rape Crisis centres has halved over the past two decades.

“Women in the UK are the cement of communities and pick up the pieces when things go wrong,” said Baxter. “That’s why funding for these groups is important.”

The fund will finance projects working for women’s safety, economic justice, health and wellbeing, and will allocate grants in the first year to proposals for new projects.

Women’s groups make up 7 per cent of registered charities in England and Wales.

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