Skip to main content
SDG 5 logo and paper cut outs of women
SDG 5 logo and paper cut outs of women

Putting SDG 5 into practice

To mark International Women's Day 2022 Funds adviser Jennifer McPhail highlights how some of our grantmaking at Foundation Scotland helps to promote gender equality in Scotland.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) centres on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. Looking back on Foundation Scotland’s grantmaking, the promotion of gender equality can be seen across several of our grantmaking programmes with funding supporting several key areas:

  • Motherhood and family projects: Funded projects supporting motherhood and family themes are largely holistic, many featuring activities such as peer support groups and educational workshops. Currently, the majority of funded projects are located in the central belt with a high concentration of activities taking place in Edinburgh. 
  • Equal participation in society: Projects with this theme are increasing, with several grants going to organisations that encourage equal working and training opportunities for women and girls. Projects range from sports clubs that facilitate training and coaching qualifications for teenage girls to upskilling workshops and digital literacy training for women from low-income backgrounds.
  • Women in Sport: Sport focused projects are also on the increase with grants supporting women-only groups as well as sporting teams that want to diversify their members and encourage female participation in traditionally male-focused sports.  Examples include football, basketball, cricket, and rugby.
  • Moving on from abuse: Projects often centre on domestic abuse and grants have been awarded to initiatives supporting women and children to lead a life free from violence. A number of women support services have been financed through these grants and notable examples include Rape Crisis Centres, Women’s Aids, and supported housing organisations like Rowan Alba, based in Edinburgh.
  • Mental and physical wellbeing: A large number of projects focus on the topic of health and wellbeing and within the realm of SDG 5 grants have supported many activities including counselling services for women (focussing on gender-specific conditions like postnatal depression, menopause etc), addiction support services and holistic projects that involve practices like yoga and mindfulness.

The project areas outlined above have received funding from a wide range of local and national funds managed by Foundation Scotland. However, most projects focussing on supporting women in communities, and promoting gender equality, are funded by one of two major funds that we manage.

Women's Fund for Scotland

The Women's Fund for Scotland (WFS) is the only fund awarding grants exclusively to projects for women. Established in 2002, the fund has now distributed £2.8 million in grants to community groups and local charities across Scotland.

Over the past 20 years, 921 grants have been awarded to 597 charitable organisations from the Women's Fund for Scotland. The fund offers grants up to £5,000 and typically opens once per year to new applications. The key priorities for this fund are:

  • Improving health and well-being
  • Building skills and confidence
  • Growing social connections
  • Moving on from abuse
  • Developing leadership and innovation
  • Combatting poverty and building financial resilience

There are some lovely case studies from funded projects available if you visit the projects page on the Women's Fund for Scotland website here.

The Volant Charitable Trust

The Volant Charitable Trust established a fund with Foundation Scotland in 2008 and to date has distributed £6.8 million in grants to community groups and local charities across Scotland.

Over the past 13 years, 239 grants have been awarded to 200 charitable organisations from the Volant Charitable Trust. This includes 13 Rape Crisis Centres and 15 Women's Aid projects across Scotland. The fund offers multi-year funding of up to £45,000 which is paid over 3 years, at £15,000 per year. The fund opens twice a year to new applicants. The key priorities for this fund are:

  • Women: Supporting survivors of sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and those working in the sex industry; care for young mothers and those affected by postnatal depression, isolated and lone parents; community support for black and minority ethnic women and asylum seekers; support services for women prisoners and their families.
  • Children and young people: Counselling, support services and outreach projects for those who are disadvantaged or deemed to be at risk through neglect, emotional and physical abuse, alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Poverty and deprivation: Mental health projects for women and children; support for vulnerable families; promotion of healthy eating for families in areas of extreme deprivation.

You can view a list of projects recently funded by Volant on our website here.

Our future commitment

There's no doubt SDG 5 will continue to be an important funding priority across our grantmaking programmes and issues surrounding gender equality will feature more widely in the grants we make. 

At a national level, violence against women has become a public issue following several high-profile cases. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has precipitated instances of domestic abuse, stalking and violence and we are already seeing funding requests related to this rise. For these reasons and our ongoing commitment to supporting the UN SDGs in Scotland's communities, Foundation Scotland will continue to work with donors to keep gender equality and SDG 5 high within our funding priorities.

Jennifer McPhail
Jennifer McPhail

Jennifer McPhail

Funds Adviser, Foundation Scotland