As India enters its 76th year of independence, it’s a significant time to reflect on the social progress that has accompanied political shifts and churns in the economy. Social assistance schemes and policies like reservations have helped empower the lives of millions of minorities and marginalised social groups who would otherwise be forced to continue living on the fringes of society.

However, it would be remiss to say that these constitutional guarantees have ushered in a right to equality and dignity for all. Take, for instance, the recent split verdict delivered by a division bench of the Delhi High Court in the fight to criminalise marital rape. The verdict underscored the strides we need to make in upholding women’s agency and bodily autonomy.

Marital violence, religious and caste-based discrimination, and even climate events like floods and droughts assume greater significance when viewed through the lens of gender, with women bearing a disproportionate burden of the impact. In imagining a truly inclusive and equitable society over the next decade, the need to support feminist movements—organisations, leaders, and networks working together to challenge and change power structures and advance equity—has never been more acute. The evidence for supporting feminist movements in India is also substantial. Success stories, such as the women-led efforts to combat rising waters in the Sundarbans, abound, strengthened by the commitment showcased by leaders with lived experience of the gender power imbalance and other oppressive structures.

Momentum to support feminist movements has been building steadily over the years. When Lynne and Peter Smitham, co-founders of The Kiawah Trust, narrowed their philanthropic efforts in 2012 to focus on adolescent girls in India, few organisations shared their approach. Nearly a decade later, the field has changed dramatically. The Smithams’ close work with its philanthropic partner in India, Dasra, helped draw other private and corporate philanthropists to support women and girls, fund research and collaboration, and make capacity-building grants in the sector.

To bolster the case for supporting feminist movements, Shake the Table and The Bridgespan Group coauthored Lighting the Way: A Report for Philanthropy on the Power and Promise of Feminist Movements. The study describes how funding feminist movements can support a range of causes and calls for an additional USD 6 billion in funding for feminist movements by 2026.

India’s richest doubled their wealth in the pandemic. It is time donors ramp up their giving to those working to address deep-rooted inequities in our society.

Read the full article about the need to support feminist movements by Nidhi Sahni and Pritha Venkatachalam at The Bridgespan Group.