What We Do

VGIF is an international women’s fund based in the United States. We support women-led groups around the globe to implement local projects that help improve the lives of women and girls by advancing women’s rights and social justice.

Since its founding in 1969, VGIF has funded more than 515 projects in 93 countries, focusing on a broad range of issues; from education and health, to economic empowerment and human rights. VGIF believes that women know best what will help improve and enrich life in their own communities and they are the only ones equipped to empower themselves.

VGIF is a public foundation and annual support from our members, as well as occasional donations from individuals and groups, help make VGIF’s grantmaking possible.

To complement and enhance our grantmaking efforts VGIF engages in discussions at the United Nations through our consultative status with ECOSOC (UN’s Economic and Social Council) and our membership in several UN-related groups.

VGIF is also connected to other organizations that support women’s issues, fund women’s groups and network with grantmaking organizations. Strategic partnerships help us maximize our impact with our limited resources.

Project Spotlight: Pakistan
Learn-Empower-Act-Promote (LEAP)
Education, Literacy, Leadership

Our Values

The VGIF values form the backdrop for all board and staff decisions and actions:

VGIF believes in the basic principle of gender equality — that women and girls are entitled to equal rights and opportunities in all phases of their lives.
VGIF believes that small grassroots projects can have a life-affirming impact that changes lives and empowers women and girls.
VGIF respects the knowledge, experience, and leadership of women in the developing world to determine their own priorities and propose solutions to solve their problems and shape their future.
VGIF believes that equal access to all forms of education is paramount to the empowerment of women and girls.
VGIF strives to be fair, transparent, and accountable in all aspects of its work.
VGIF values the international composition of its membership, contributors and leaders.

Topic Areas

Over its history, VGIF has invested close to 2.7 million USD to support projects in 93 countries to advance the rights, health, and social and economic status of women and girls. VGIF does not restrict its funding based on topic area, and its broad range of grant-making reflects the shifting needs and priorities of grantees working at the grassroots level in many countries and regions across the globe. To date, however, much of VGIF’s funded projects can be grouped into these six thematic areas. 

Economic Development and Empowerment
Increasing women’s earning power through business development and vocational training. 
Boosting women’s entrepreneurship and economic status to reduce poverty.  
Narrowing the gender enrollment gap by supporting girls’ formal education.
Strengthening school resources to improve girls’ education in science, technology, and mathematics.
Providing basic literacy and numeracy for unschooled women and girls.  
Environment, Food and Water Security
Building food and water systems that promote health, community self-sufficiency, and gender equity.
Safeguarding the environment by promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
Health, Wellness, Bodily Integrity
Tackling gender-based health disparities by increasing access to health information, resources, and services. 
Supporting victims of violence with medical care, counseling, and support.
Educating communities to prevent violence against women and traditional practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting, which endanger the health and well-being of women and girls.
Human Rights and Legal Status
Advocating for passage and implementation of laws and policies to promote the rights of women and girls. 
Combating social, legal, and economic norms to prevent trafficking of women and girls. 
Leadership and Movement-Building
Training and supporting grassroots leaders to advocate for issues affecting women and girls.
Developing networks to support women’s leadership at the national and international level.

Our Impact

VGIF’s grantmaking began in the 1970s with a focus on assisting women college graduates to identify issues and implement solutions to problems affecting their communities. Many of VGIF’s early projects supported individuals or small groups of women by providing leadership and networking opportunities, education, and training.

In its first 15 years, VGIF funded more than 40 grants serving an estimated 1,400 women through leadership development, education, health, and economic development projects.

Over time, VGIF’s grantmaking has grown to support women working in diverse roles, from individual activists and women’s collectives to improve the status of women and girls at the individual, family, community, and broader societal level, and have targeted women and girls as well as men and boys. From 1970 through 2013, VGIF invested in more than 515 projects, reaching more than 231,500 women and girls and 353,000 people overall.

VGIF grantees are making a difference. In recent years, our grantees have set broad goals to improve the lives of women and girls in their communities. From 2008-2013, more than 90% of all funded projects made progress toward or met their goals to affect change in their communities.

VGIF Grantmaking: 1970–2013

VGIF’s grantmaking has increased substantially over the past 45 years. In 2013, we supported 35 projects in 17 countries.

VGIF Projects: Progress on Objectives

Grantees set high goals for their work and are making a difference. From 2008–2013, more than 90% of our funded projects made progress towards or met their goals to improve the lives of women and girls in their communities. Our grantees made progress despite facing significant political and logistical challenges in carrying out their work.

VGIF Projects: By Region

Since its founding, VGIF has invested in women's projects across the globe. The majority of our funding has gone to support projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.