With so many important causes vying for our attention and our donations, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are 10 organizations that are women-led, working to support gender equity, addressing issues affecting women and gender-diverse individuals, or providing funding for those doing that important work. We realize this list is by no means exhaustive, but you’ll find Canadian and American organizations, both grassroots and global players, and a multitude of missions. Many of them you may not have heard of, but all of them could use your support.
Where they operate: several North American cities and in Asia.
Founded by award-winning event planner and creative storyteller Tanya Hayles, Black Moms Connection started with a group of 12 women in Toronto looking to create a safe space to ask culturally relevant questions and get culturally relevant answers. Since its inception, this once local grassroots organization has evolved into an online global village of more than 16,000 people with chapters in a variety of North American cities and in Asia. As a registered non-profit organization, Black Moms Connection offers culturally relevant tools and resources to empower and educate Black women. Workshops and sessions range from special needs education to financial literacy, encouraging mothers to increase the social, emotional, financial, and well-being of the Black family.
Where they operate: several provinces in Canada.
As most good stories do, this one started with one woman and her desire to help. Wondering how those experiencing homelessness would gain access to period products, Jana Girdauskas, a teacher and mom, filled one purse with menstrual supplies and other hygiene items, ready for someone in need. She put a request out on Facebook and within a month she received 350 purses filled with donated products. That was 2017. Today, The Period Purse is Canada’s first and only registered charity dealing with menstrual equity and has chapters across the country. They’ve donated more than 2.5 million period products since their inception. With a focus on reducing the stigma surrounding periods through education and advocacy, The Period Purse provides a number of opportunities for those interested in volunteering their time, items or financial support to the cause. With the announcement in Ontario around making period products available for free to students in schools, period equity has certainly been top-of-mind.
Where they operate: Canada.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations Peoples on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis, and Inuit. NWAC was founded to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of Indigenous women. An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC engages in national and international advocacy aimed at legislative and policy reforms that promote equality for Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people, including LGBTQIA+ people. NWAC works on a variety of issues such as employment, labour and business, health, violence prevention and safety, justice and human rights, environment, early learning childcare, and international affairs.
Where they operate: globally.
It began in 2006 with 30 grassroots women leaders from around the globe, gathering in Mexico City with a shared mission to protect the environment, reverse climate change, and ensure a just, thriving world by empowering women’s leadership. Since then, Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) has given rise to thousands of groups of women taking simple but profound actions to advance sustainability efforts. From saving Indigenous seeds, to planting native trees, teaching solar cooking, launching sustainable farms, providing safe water, preserving traditional knowledge, building composting toilets, and protecting land rights in some of the most resource rich and threatened regions on Earth. The WEA Accelerator provides leadership, strategy, and technical training for women leaders looking to scale their initiatives while connecting them with a global alliance of peers, mentors, and funders. The Alliance is made up of advocates, entrepreneurs, cultural practitioners, trainers, technicians, artists, and community organizers who have joined forces for a common goal to ensure the long-term health of the planet. Founded by Melinda Kramer, a passionate advocate for social justice, the environment, and women’s rights, and later joined by co-Founder Amira Dimond to expand programming and build a more robust team, the organization continues to expand and thrive in these most uncertain times.
Where they operate: Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
Launched in Canada in 2015 and since expanded across the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, SheEO is a visionary model for supporting women-led ventures through what’s called radical generosity. Founded by serial entrepreneur Vicki Saunders, SheEO was designed to directly tackle the issue of gender inequality when it comes to securing capital for women-led businesses. Vicki has always been committed to fostering innovation through entrepreneurship, and through this not-for-profit company, she’s developed an entirely new model of financing for women-identifying and non-binary entrepreneurs. ‘Activators’ contribute to a Perpetual Fund that is loaned out at zero percent interest to women-led Ventures who are selected by the Activators. All chosen Ventures must be revenue generating with export potential and creating a better world through their business model. The loans are paid back over five years and then loaned out again, creating a Perpetual Fund. Beyond financing, the SheEO contributors also provide expertise, networks, and connections. The ultimate goal: to get resources to women and non-binary folks that are working on innovations that address critical global priorities.
Where they operate: United States.
This Indigenous, women-led organization began as a dream to empower and amplify Indigenous women. Founded by Sarah Eagle Heart, Red Dawn Foster and Gina Jackson, the foundation works to open doors for Native, women-led economic and business activity by expanding access to capital, increasing asset development and expanding local employment opportunities, climate justice issues, civic engagement (power building) and narrative change. As the founders explain: the contributions of Indigenous women have not been visible or significantly included in contemporary social causes. This organization is set to change that. Their areas of focus include civic engagement, climate justice, narrative change, and restorative and regenerative development. From micro-grants to a fellowship program, to events and activism, Return 2 Heart is working to support Native innovators, activists, and entrepreneurs, supporting women and fostering stronger communities.
Where they operate: globally.
Inspired by the radical ambition of feminist movements, the Equality Fund is building the largest self-sustaining fund for gender equality in the world. A Canadian-based organization, Equality Fund is working with a collective of partners to build a new model for sustainable investment in feminist movements globally. Their grants provide core, flexible funding to women’s organizations and feminist movements. They offer philanthropists an opportunity to activate their support to advance global gender equality. And, their investment arm provides investors opportunities to generate financial returns and improve the lives of women simultaneously. The fund’s mandate is to ensure that meaningful resources and power flow to women’s rights organizations and feminist movements everywhere. The Fund is supported by gender-lens investing, government funding, and multi-sector philanthropy to ensure access to capital.
Where they operate: Toronto and globally.
Formerly G(irls)20, Fora is a centre of excellence for young women’s leadership development, with a focus on removing barriers and creating space for young women to lead. Fora, the plural of forum, is defined as places or mediums where ideas and views are exchanged. A network for learning, engagement, emergence, and solutions, Fora was founded in 2009 by Farah Mohamed, who worked as the organization’s CEO for five years before passing on the leadership to Heather Barnabe. Through their signature programs — Global Summit, Girls on Boards and Next Level — Fora makes strategic investments in young women through education and training, building networks, and access to unparalleled opportunities in Canada and abroad. The organization also advocates for change at a global level and makes strategic investments in young women through education and training, building networks, and leadership opportunities around the globe.
Where they operate: the Greater Toronto Area.
Founded by Monica Samuel, Black Women in Motion is a Toronto-based, youth-led organization that empowers and supports the advancement of Black women, gender-non-confirming, and non-binary survivors of gender-based violence. As an educator, community builder, social entrepreneur and DEI consultant, Monica has spent the past decade focusing on anti-oppression, equity, mental health, sex positivity, and consent. She’s known for her creation of culturally centred spaces for learning, unlearning, and self-expression. Programs include the Black Youth Employment Assistance Program, Black Peer Education Network, Love Offering Community Emergency Relief Fund, and other wellness initiatives, internships, and workshops. The organization offers a number of ways for interested parties to get involved from monetary donations, corporate partnerships, non-monetary gifts, and volunteer opportunities. While this organization is Toronto-based, they’re bringing education and community to a much broader audience.
Where they operate: the Greater Toronto Area.
In 2015, Char San Pedro was volunteering at a local homeless shelter and noticed the urgency for basic essentials. For her birthday that year, she asked friends to bring items such as canned goods, baby items, and new toiletries in lieu of gifts. She observed that many people wanted to give back and be of service but didn’t know where to begin. This realization gave rise to the Good to Be Good Foundation, an intersectional, community-wide, grassroots humanitarian and advocacy organization on a mission to serve marginalized communities and help build a kind and equal world. The registered Canadian not-for-profit advocates for gender equality, social justice, and total equality. Since their inception, Good to Be Good has raised more than $75,000 and collected more than 150,000 essentials for women, girls, and gender-diverse people and communities experiencing poverty, gender-based violence, abuse, homelessness, economic disparities, and other forms of systemic socio-economic vulnerabilities. Financial contributions can be made directly to the organization to help support a variety of programs and service offerings.