Our History

Our journey began in 2004, when we were launched as South Asia Women's Fund to support women's human rights activists, groups and networks in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. From 2004-2017, we supported over 200 initiatives and 30 feminist lawyers (between 2013-2017), supporting initiatives with grants worth over $3 million to issues ranging from right to mobility, access to justice, labour rights, autonomy and sexual rights, young women’s leadership, and environmental justice.

In 2016-17, we initiated the process of expanding our mandate to the rest of Asia, and increased our outreach from 5 to 18 countries. After an intense process of review and consultations, we seized our new identity and were relaunched as Women's Fund Asia on 8th March 2018!

From South Asia Women’s Fund to Women’s Fund Asia

A brief overview of our journey

We are established with the core mandate to support women’s rights groups and activists in 5 countries of South Asia. address the non-availability of resources for women's rights work in the region, and support strategies and interventions designed, implemented and led by women.
Following three years of grant making, we undertake a review of our brief grant making journey, to ensure that its strategies are rooted in the experiences and realities of the women’s movements in the region.
A transition process is initiated under the leadership of three founding board members - Priya Paul (India), Suneeta Dhar (India) and Sara Hossain (Bangladesh) with the support from Ford Foundation. Human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, Tulika Srivastava, comes on board to implement the transition process.
An entire overhaul of our strategies, programmes and leadership is undertaken with Tulika Srivastava as the new Executive Director.
The transition period is completed and we resumes our programmes under a new strategy. The focus now is on creating a regional mandate, rooted in national and grassroots realities.
We work with a new strategy, leadership, new Board of Directors and 6 team members spread across the region focusing on supporting grassroots initiatives and leadership.

Our programme strategy is reflected upon and decision is made to move away from an activity oriented strategy to a thematic oriented strategy. Starting with 2 and growing to 5 thematics was a critical juncture in our journey! Starting with Strengthening Feminist Voices, we moved grew to working on Movement and Labour; Autonomy, Decisions and Sexual Rights; Access to Justice; and Environmental Justice. All thematics reflecting realities of the ground and our learnings from them!

Between 2010 and 2016 SAWF re-starts its grant-making with 3 grants and $11,000 in 2011 which rapidly grows to 62 grants and $354,370 in 2016-17.

The Board of Directors decides to expand operations to Southeast Asia and Mongolia, increasing the number of countries we work in from 5 to 18. A transition process is initiated and a special Expansion to Asia committee set up to drive the process forward. In 2017, South Asia Women’s Fund completes the first call for applications in the expanded region under the Leading from the South programme, supporting 16 organisations working on women’s and trans* people’s rights.
We officially and formally transition to Women’s Fund Asia. Over the next few years, we will expand all of our programming to the 18 countries that we now work in.