Laura Ouseley speaks to One World Action’s Finance Manager Gareth Richards about why finance plays such an important role in One World Action’s work to empower women and girls.
So what does One World Action do in the area of finance?
We help grassroots organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, to set up financial systems and procedures so that they can more easily manage international grants and other income. This is particularly important for the newer organisations we work with, who are often just establishing themselves. Part of this means ensuring they have a suitable ledger, or working with them to set one up if necessary. We often mentor them for the first few months of a project, including working with them on financial reporting to funders, advising on recruitment of financial staff, and working with operational staff to ensure they are able to use financial information effectively to assist them in planning and implementing projects (in other words empowering women and doing the work that we want to support!).
Could you give an example of building financial capacity?
One World Action helps partners to build their financial management capacity in a number of ways, we either visit them, get another partner to mentor them, or get a consultant to mentor them. Our work with FEMUCADI (who promote and protect the rights of disabled women in Nicaragua) was very successful in this area. In 2008 FEMUCADI were reliant on another organization to manage their finances and this was holding them back so in 2008 we organised a consultant to help them develop an accounting manual, systems and budgets so that their staff could independently manage and plan their projects. This contributed to their becoming a much stronger and more influential organization.
What does this work have to do with women’s empowerment?
At the end of the day helping organisations to better manage their finances means that they can spend more time doing the work that really makes a difference to women’s lives – whether that’s lobbying their government, helping women to deal with violence and abuse, or giving women the skills and confidence to seek their own income with which to support their families. Training women in financial management also helps challenge gender stereotypes as in many places accounting is still very male dominated. What’s more, robust financial procedures can play an important role in the countries One World Action works in – challenging corruption and supporting organisations to become more accountable and transparent.
Is it difficult to get funding for this type of work?
Yes. Although we don’t apply specifically for funding for this work it very much forms part of the means to the end – which is women’s empowerment. Finance training is often included in our projects but we would love to do more work on this.
Are all international charities doing this type of work?
Not all of them. We focus a lot on capacity building at One World Action; building the skills of women so that they are empowered and can continue fighting for women’s rights. Women’s financial independence is one of our aims and financial skills are part of this. I think that whilst providing women with services is great, small grassroots organisations need to learn how to become sustainable – so that when assistance comes to an end they can continue to do the work and to grow on their own.
To make a donation today in support of One World Action’s work promoting women’s leadership in developing countries- text LEAD02 followed by £2, £5 or £10 to 70070