March 18 2021 GM
Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.
Date: March 18
Time: 9am EST / 1pm UTC
Topic: New Feminist Fund, the Numun Fund
Featured Guest: Jac sm Kee & Esra'a Al Shafei
Come and learn about Numun Fund, which funds feminist groups, organizations and networks led by women, non-binary and trans people. Specifically, the fund will seed and resource a growing ecosystem of feminist engagement with technology in order to support feminist tech infrastructure, build feminist resilience, foster feminist tech creativity and innovation. We will talking to featured speaker Jac sm Kee on:
- What the Numun Fund is aiming for Why this work and context is so important; what impact they hope to have in the ecosystem
- Funding+ model: A central value proposition of the Fund is to also support community and skills building - to resource movement work, and to create an open and shared platform for this work. I.e. the learning piece that is also important for advocating for more resources and investments in the feminist technology sector, as well as for the sector to best serve women’s rights organizing.
- Mapping the landscape: A huge world out there not being funded; the impact it could have if it were.
The Numun Fund will be led by a team of organizations and individuals located within different geographies with diverse expertise, including Majal.org, Whose Knowledge?, feminist tech activist Jac sm Kee, and housed in Women Win. A volunteer advisory committee will oversee the governance and awarding of grants. They fund feminist groups, organizations and networks led by women, non-binary and trans people.
Jac sm Kee is a feminist activist working at the intersection of internet technologies, social justice and collective power. Jac’s activism includes sexuality and gender justice, feminist movement building in a digital age, internet governance, digital rights, open culture and epistemic justice. Jac is located within these movements at hyper-local, networked and global levels. Amongst stuff Jac is proud of being part of, is co-founding the Take Back the Tech! collaborative global campaign on ending online gender-based violence, and stewarding the collaborative development of the Feminist Principles of the Internet. Jac is a founding member of the Malaysia Design Archive, co-director of Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia, and is currently making into reality with co-dreamers - Numun Fund – the first fund on feminist tech in the global South.
@ March 24 | Asia Monthly Meetup https://internetfreedomfestival.org/wiki/index.php/Asia_Monthly_Meetups
@ March 25 | Disinformation Workshop: Tools & Techniques https://digitalrights.formstack.com/forms/cks35
@ March 30 | Q&A with Circumvention Lead at Tor About Snowflake https://digitalrights.formstack.com/forms/cks37
@ March 31 | Latin America Monthly Meetup https://internetfreedomfestival.org/wiki/index.php/Latin_American_Monthly_Meetups
@ April 7 | Africa Meetup https://internetfreedomfestival.org/wiki/index.php/Africa_Monthly_Meetups
@ April 8 | Glitter Meetup: Relaynet, a tool for Internet Blackouts https://internetfreedomfestival.org/wiki/index.php/April_8_2021_GM
- The first Accessibility article is out!
Resources & Projects
- Follow Alice Wong for more knowledge about Accessibility and Disability Justice
- Afrofeminist Data Futures
- FemHack: intersectional decolonial feminist collective
- Echap is a feminist collective doing tech support and guides for women shelters in France
- The Signs In Ourselves is a collective wellbeing resource for queer Muslims
- Rising Voices has a history of microfunding Larger World projects
Topic of Discussion: New Feminist Fund, Numun Fund
- Esra'a Al Shafei (@ealshafei on Mattermost) is founder of Majal.org in Bahrain, where they create platforms to amplify causes of underrepresented communities in MENA, she is working with Jac on the Numun Fund as a response to a critical gap in philanthropy.
- Jac (@jac on Mattermost) is a feminist tech activist, working in Malaysia. She has been doing this work with APC for the longest time - and transitioned out mid of 2019. Now cooking up Numun Fund with a bunch of crazy amazing people including Esra'a.
Can you share why created this fund?
- It's actually been something that they have been thinking about from different directions, in different ways. The first time Esra'a and Jac spoke, they called it "therapy" because they were sharing how tough fundraising was for feminists in the global south who were doing tech.
- We realized despite our different contexts we had too many similar issues and kept noticing that pattern amongst other global south orgs / founders.
- Covid and the pandemic just brought everything into light 10000% more - how we were so reliant on digital tech and digital infa for organising, but
- how little there was that was designed for our activism in mind;
- that tech was also a blindspot in resourcing when it comes to supporting organising work, and in women's rights and feminist movements;
- and so much of surveillance infra was also increasingly being laid down and we need to do more
- So Numun Fund was seeded here
Can you share some of the challenges you were hoping to overcome with this new fund/strategy? Share some trends or common obstacles you were seeing?
- We wanted a fund that was completely dedicated to feminist tech and also, led in the Larger World (aka Global South)
- This does not exist because it's work at the intersection of feminism and tech, and also a lot of resourcing of tech was focussed on the Global North, so that's a main pillar
- One of the main issues was that there was no shortage of expertise and creativity in our regions but a huge shortage in resources to support them
- Imagine what difference it would make if we could craft grants with Global South feminist tech at its heart, instead of trying to "fit" ourselves in, one way or another
One participant asked about feminist infrastructures and how the Numun fund understand it
- The Feminist Infrastructure is the ecosystem needed to centre the strengthening of the infrastructures of organising: relationships, processes, culture and tech needed. It involves also the different actors located differently in the ecosystem to take care of it and grow it
- The Numun Fund understands that it evolves and changes as we learn along this process with everyone too. it will definitely iterate over time based on needs / changing landscapes
What are the types of projects you are hoping to fund? Are there particular strategic priorities for the fund?
- We are at seeding stage right now which means we know the direction we would like to go, but not specifically what kinds of projects yet.
- The reason is because we also really want to hear and know from different people in the ecosystem, what needs the fund can meet as well!
- But at this point, we have 3 main areas:
- Supporting feminist orgs and women, trans-led activists to strengthen their capacity to integrate tech into their work - this includes connections, building knowledge, learning from each other, strengthening the foundations together
- Supporting the work feminist tech practitioners, many of whom might be "free radicals" (not part of an org) - in ways that can help the community and network grow
- Supporting innovation and creativity - putting tech in feminist spaces and feminism in tech spaces, and trying to see how we can bring in diff stakeholders to the same conversation, and ultimately, inflect and shape the framework of how we imagine tech and its place in the world
How can we be part of this effort?
- We are trying to plan out different community engagement processes - like this amazing conversation - and also more planned along the way, as we build what NF is and can do.
- There's a lot of things we can learn along the way, some of this would be e.g. through our online spaces, some would be e.g. planned conversations
- We would like to also learn from the incredible work of women's funds in participatory grantmaking to integrate this in our processes
How would you situate Numun within the landscape of existing funders, both feminist and non-feminist? Are there things you already know you are not interested in funding?
- Our location and power is at the intersection. Intersectional means we are both boundary monsters as well as being located in multiple movements and can be bridgebuilers and polyglots: feminist, tech, women's rights, queer organising…
- We would want more engagement to know what the first call's focus is, by collective defining! but we do know that we are not funding, e.g. girls in STEM - that is already resourced well in other fields
Are you funding projects from specific countries?
- At the moment no, anyone in the Larger World focusing on these aspects would be eligible (more thematic than country specific)
Does the larger world include diaspora/indigenous/colonized communities?
- We don't know actually, and will be interesting to see how some of our core political concepts unfold in meaning as we do the work: feminist, tech, Larger World, fund… we hope to disrupt and re-learn/re-build all of this
Did you need to do a lot of convincing to build a 'case' for such a fund, or were there allies in the resourcing space who 'got it' and backed your idea?
- They didn't get it at the beginning
- While some allies in space got it, just had to also ensure that we can keep the fund independent, self-managed and not influenced by their funding (in terms of decisions) or else we argued we'd fall into the same traps and exasperate the same issues/gaps that exist today
- But it's super great to have allies in women's funds to help figure out the landscape and politics of this as well
Jac and Esra’a asked some questions to the Glitter Meetup participants
What have your challenges been in funding or sustaining the work of feminism and tech?
- Short-term, project based funding does not allow to build bigger systems that can be effective on the long run
- Some funding organizations are oppressive themselves
- Lots of current funding practices allow toxic and misgoverned organisations to last longer than they should
- Having absolutely no support for any feminist project in the Balkans makes it even harder when you have an extensive amount of paperwork
- It has been hard to fund things like psycho-social well being, tools like COC, and more emotional labor type work. We can't have these spaces and technology without investing more in safety and care. Folks are hurting more than ever - if we cannot invest in the actual people doing the tech, then we have nothing, because folks aren't robots
- The paperwork, the lack of trust, the lack of co creating priorities
- The stunning bureaucracy that goes into those short-term, minimal funding, sometimes makes it not worthwhile to even apply
- Funder limitations that make it hard for us doing this work to compensate ourselves for it
- Feeling in a funding crack and having to work outside to be able to do the kind of feminist decolonial tech projects we love.
- The double standards when it comes to risk, funders are very averse to risk and experimentation when it comes to larger world/feminist technologists, while the work of global north technologists isn't interrogated the same way in terms of "impact"
- We have to prove ourselves constantly to the fund owners when we are the only ones who are working on change
- Challenges around funding for overheads not just project-based funding. Finding unrestricted funds is very difficult but necessary to the sustainability of the organisation
- Funders seeing tech as some 'add on', and not knowing enough about the landscape
- Underpaying in the "global south"
- Long-distance interpersonal trust is just a huge pervasive problem of globalization
- Gatekeeping is also a problem, it makes it a lot harder for new initiatives
- Same funders fund same idea that produce no results
- As in every region there are a number of NGOs that take the "monopole" for funding on certain topics, they do become the unique references to some funders and for new initiatives to rise they need first to be in the good grace of, recommended by these NGOs
How do you think this fund can help to support your work?
- The community would love to have multiyear unrestricted trust-based funding
- Funds which focus on newcomers
- It'd also be kinda great to be able to fund "unfundable" ideas
- It's not enough to "open the gate" you also need to build bridges
- It's also important to recognize that lots of infrastructure work is maintenance as well, and lots of it is under/not funded
- It would be really great to have funders who care about human beings wellbeing as their work, so psycho-social support and always supporting eventual visa/residency needs