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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women

Engaging Women as Agents of Change against Gender-Based Violence and Poverty

Through the generous support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands’ Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) programme, between 2016 and 2020, Women for Women International will be supporting 11,000 marginalised women in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nigeria to strengthen agency and self-reliance, and tackle violence.

Why is it important?

Afghanistan, DRC and Nigeria are some of the world’s most dangerous countries for women. Women are disproportionately impacted by conflict and fragility, have little access to their rights and face endemic levels of gender-based violence. Yet evidence shows that investing in women’s economic empowerment promotes growth, reduces violence against women and poverty, and has a range of positive outcomes for families and communities. Combatting gender-based violence and investing in women’s economic empowerment can establish stronger societies.

What do we aim to do? 

The project aims for marginalised women to live free of violence and determine the course of their lives, by combining advances in their social and economic capabilities with support from their families and communities. We have two overarching programme objectives:

  • Improved agency, self-reliance and well-being of marginalised women. 
  • Improved enabling environment for marginalised women’s economic participation and prevention of violence against women.

How will we do it?

By delivering 10 targeted and complementary interventions:

  1. A yearlong comprehensive social and economic empowerment programme for 11,000 women.
  2. Introducing women to informal, community-led, saving and lending mechanisms.
  3. Mentoring women’s micro-enterprises and group businesses.
  4. Engaging 5,000 men to learn about and discuss women’s rights and participation.
  5. Supporting 450 women to become “Change Agents” to advocate on issues that matter to women in their community.
  6. Referring women to complementary health, legal and economic services.
  7. Taking a whole-of-community approach to tackle violence against women in DRC.
  8. Working with partners to carry out community level advocacy to influence customary law and practice.
  9. Working with partners for national level change to laws, policy and practice.
  10. Sharing lessons and evidence with key influencers so that international policy and practice are more sensitive to the voices of marginalised women.


Results from the first year of the project show that women have gained new skills, are experiencing increased food security and that their daughters are gaining improved access to education. In focus group discussions, women gave many examples of how they had used knowledge gained in training to change practices, and have experienced improved economic security.

Similarly, examples were provided of how the men’s engagement training had led women’s male family members to change their behaviours, thereby reducing violence and giving women more opportunities to engage in decision-making and economic activities.

For more information, read the full overview of the project, see the annual report or read our blog on how women are becoming Change Agents in their communities. 

Women's equality is everyone's business

Since 2002, Women for Women International has reached almost 21,000 men through our Men's Engagement Programme.

We teach men about women's rights and gender equality, because women's equality is everyone's business. The Men's Engagement Programme in Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is funded by the FLOW programme.

Our Delivery Partners

Learn more about our other funders providing long-term funding and helping us serve more women survivors of war.