Women’s rights organizations are consistently underfunded, and available funds are often restricted grants that prevent these organizations from designating funds to areas where they see the greatest need.

Sometimes, the greatest need is a scooter or an after-school club.

Let me explain.

In 2020, a 9.2% increase in philanthropic giving to girls’ and women’s organizations over the previous year resulted in $8.8 billion of support. Yet, this figure is still low in terms of total charitable giving. According to the Indiana University School of Philanthropy, less than 2% of philanthropic contributions in the United States are directed toward girls’ and women’s organizations.

The recent pushback on women’s rights and the COVID-19 pandemic have driven philanthropic support to girls’ and women’s causes. Organizations that focus on these causes have a direct impact on women’s right to bodily integrity and rightly deserve funding.

However, among gender-focused organizations, some with more specific missions do not look as enticing to donors and lag behind in receiving funding.

A sympathetic funder once told me how funding girls is often viewed as a “cute” cause among funders. It highlights the disparity in giving and perceptions about these organizations’ work as less serious, less urgent causes to fund. But my engagement with women changemakers across Asia through Wedu has me convinced that their work is worthy of support—in both dollars and allyship. Their work has demonstrated their ability to advance women’s rights, from helping individuals lead a life with dignity to the impact they have on societies across the region. At Wedu, we have been working to support changemakers in Asia by offering them guidance in their leadership journeys. Here are two examples of that support and the impact:

For 23-year-old Takia, who is a junior studying computer science at Islamia University, running Roadbook BD consistently has not been easy. But her mentor Lulu has been a constant throughout her life in the past three years. Takia was first matched with Lulu, a digital engineer based in San Francisco, for one-on-one mentorship in 2021 as part of Wedu’s Global Mentorship Program. Over the course of eight months, Takia helped gain focus on her leadership goals, including her passion for helping Bangladeshi women become able to move around freely and with confidence. Throughout the ups and downs of her journey, Lulu became her sounding board.

“She is a blessing to me,” Takia said about Lulu. “For all problems I have, with Roadbook BD or career and college, she gives me suggestions in a clear and specific manner.”

Read the full article about mentorship in women's leadership by Bidhya Maharjan at GlobalGiving.