Our research (published December, 2021) found that resourcing for work with and for incarcerated women and girls has failed to adequately address the needs and capacities of these groups, including by feminist and women’s rights funders. The findings present a compelling case for why work with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system urgently needs increased resources and more effective funding.
KEY FINDINGS FROM REPORT
Established organisations are doing vital work using multiple strategies in a challenging context.
Addressing women’s incarceration is not a priority for most donors.
Over two-thirds of organisations do not receive funding from feminist and women’s rights funders.
The majority of organisations lack access to flexible, core funding.
Most of the organisations surveyed are facing precarious funding situations.
Organisations are facing challenges with the funding process and are not able to fund key staff positions.
Organisations receive insufficient funding to fully implement all their strategies, particularly their work with women and girls post-incarceration.
Organisations are also in need of non-financial support for sustainability.
of respondents said they do not receive funding from foundations that identify as women’s rights or feminist foundations.
of participants said there were strategies they would like to implement but could not do so effectively because of lack of funding.
of organisations surveyed working with and for incarcerated women and girls have a precarious funding situation.
Resource a global mapping of organisations and unregistered groups working with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system.
Hold a donor convening to hear from organisations working in this area and from women with lived experience of the criminal justice system, in order to shape funding priorities and interventions.
Dedicate new funding for work with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system:
a. Ensure new funding goes specifically to organisations working with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system.
b. Create specific portfolios that focus funding in an intersectional and holistic way, rather than through siloed donor interventions e.g. through just a public health or legal services lens.
Increase and prioritise feminist funding for work with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system.
Make funding more accessible to organisations working with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system:
a.Create explicit open call processes.
b.Simply funding requirements.
c.Partner with women’s funds and public foundations that have the capacity and expertise to work with small and/or unregistered groups.
Improve the quality of funding for organisations working with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system:
a.Provide flexible and unrestricted funding that allows organisations to pursue their own agendas.
b.Build multi-year partnerships that allow organisations to do long-term strategic work.
c.Support organisations to build reserves to allow for sustainability.
Explore funding gaps and how to better support investment in these areas:
a. Explore under-funded regions, particularly across the Global South.
b. Better resource work supporting formerly incarcerated women.
c. Invest in research and knowledge production to bolster advocacy and movement-building.
d. Better support direct services, such as legal services, mental health and economic empowerment.
e. Resource and support Development and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning staff positions.
f. Allocate funding to test new ideas and approaches.
Increase non-financial support to organisations working with and for women impacted by the criminal justice system, contributing to their sustainability.
Invest in wellbeing initiatives given the challenging context many individuals and organisations are working in.
Invest in movement building, networking initiatives and shared learning between organisations working with and for women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system, as well as with the wider women’s rights movement and human rights movement. In particular, support learning with and from women with lived experience of the criminal justice system.
"Working with currently or formerly incarcerated women is not a priority topic for many donors."
"In the last five years access to funding for prison work has been restricted. There are reduced funding streams to provide support in prison for Black and migrant women."
"There are very few organisations working with incarcerated women and girls and with this situation we may not sustain our interventions."
A graduate of City, University of London with degrees in journalism and law. Aside from collaborating with Women Beyond Walls, Isabella is currently working on an MSc in Law and Society from Leiden University and working as a research associate at Global Insight. During the last four years, she has undertaken innovative research in West Africa and Asia, most recently in Sierra Leone where she led a research and advocacy project on the causes and consequences of women’s incarceration for the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and AdvocAid. As part of her work for Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone, Isabella led a research project on child trafficking in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.