Oxfam and The Young Feminist Fund Empowers Women through Social Innovation in Lebanon
Deep-rooted gender inequality prevents millions of young women and trans folks from making choices about and taking control of their own lives. Yet not enough money or resources go to them directly to help them address, innovate around and combat these challenges. Young women and trans activists are best placed to imagine and develop high-impact solutions in their communities. Many of them already have excellent ideas, yet these potential solutions are being lost without being adequately considered or attempted. Young women and trans youth lack the connections across sectors, financial resources, and access to networks and training necessary to develop their ideas and scale their projects.
Project Objectives and Description
RootsLab is a collaborative pilot project by FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, Global Fund for Women, Oxfam and Young Foundation. It seeks to test how best to incubate social change driven by young women and trans activists. The first pilot is taking place in Lebanon, and is being hosted by Oxfam’s country office.
The project seek to create a community of activists, researchers, mentors, experts, organizations and potential donors that is supportive of young women and trans folks to develop, test, and where possible, take their innovations to scale.
The project is piloting an innovative game-changing approach to advancing young women's rights, leadership and collective action, by directly providing resources and support to young women and trans people to help them imagine and develop impactful social change initiatives in their communities. RootsLab offers a structured support process to develop and test new and exciting ideas for change. This includes offering space for collective problem solving, professional skills, connections and networking opportunities with women’s rights and feminist groups, financial resources, key partnerships, access to mentoring and coaching support in targeted strategies for engagement, community mobilization, advocacy and communications.
Over a year and a half, 10 activist teams, selected from over 45 applications, have successfully undergone a thorough selection process, a 4-months incubation phase, a mentorship program, and a proposal submission process. The teams are currently in the implementation phase of the journey, and are testing out their ideas for change. In the last phase of the journey, RootsLab will continue to provide tailored support and accompaniment to the teams as they implement their initiatives, and seek to support them in sustaining their work.
The project provided valuable findings about the tools, resources and support systems required to nurture young feminist activism, innovation and leadership. The project has provided safe spaces and linkages for project's young women activists to advance their rights. It has demonstrated positive impact on the scope for, and quality of, collaboration and intergenerational cooperation within Lebanon’s feminist movement.
Oxfam's country office is supporting the growth of young feminist organizations and initiatives including non-established and unregistered groups, small and independent initiatives, university clubs, within and outside of Beirut through RootsLab and beyond including connecting them with local funding resources including INGOs, women and innovation funds, and donors.