Money as a Tool for Social Change

Mama Cash Promotes Flexible Funding to Strengthen Women's Movement

AMC will bring community leaders and members together to face the fact that they need to protect and promote the rights of women, including single mothers, and stop oppressive behavior.

Happy Mwende Kinyili, Mama Cash

Protests and violent demonstrations erupted in Burundi after President Nkurunziza announced on April 25, 2015 that he plans to run for a third term, a decision deemed unconstitutional by his opposition and one that is feared to reignite ethnic hostilities. As the 2015 crisis in Burundi unfolded, Mama Cash remained in constant communication with one grantee in country to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Association des Mamans Célibataires pour la Paix et le Développement (AMC) is a civil society coalition with a very vocal and visible leader, and so it needed to brainstorm ways to continue its work while keeping security paramount in case of civil unrest and widespread violence. “As a funder, we need to figure out how we can provide funding to groups so they can use it to respond to situations quickly,” explains Mama Cash senior program officer Happy Mwende Kinyili.

Mama Cash, an international women’s fund, started funding AMC in 2012. “We build a relationship with an organization first, and then we fund them. Mama Cash provides flexible core long-term support, meaning we fund a group, and then they alone decide how they want to spend it,” shares Happy. “It is paramount for Mama Cash that if something shifts— if a grantee sees an opportunity or faces a challenge—that our funding provide the flexibility for them to undertake whatever efforts make sense at the time.” Shifts are not always as drastic as a coup d’état, as even the day-to-day can be crisis-filled for a coalition of single mothers fighting to change social norms.

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AMC is willing to keep pushing boundaries, to say there are ways in which society, laws, and policies don't support single mothers, and policymakers need to adapt to this reality.

Happy Mwende Kinyili, Mama Cash