Enhancing meaningful engagements for civil society partners


Group of men and women standing inside a room and facing the camera smiling
UN Trust Fund with finance focal points from 11 UN Women Country Offices at the training in Istanbul,Türkiye. Credit: Mildred Garcia Rodriguez/UN Trust Fund

Istanbul, Türkiye - From 25 – 29 February, while part of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) team welcomed its grantee partners from the 26th cohort, the Operations team of the UN Trust Fund was leading a parallel workshop with nine UN Women Country Offices. This marked the first time the UN Trust Fund brought together grantee partners and UN Women country offices’ finance focal points prior to project implementation.  

While administered by UN Women on behalf of the UN system, the UN Trust Fund’s finance and operations system has distinct differences to meet the diversity of its grantee organizations in both sizes, modalities of grants, and reporting protocol. Launched in 2019, the collaboration on financial support for grantee partners between the UN Trust Fund and UN Women has evolved, now into “Service Level Framework” (SLF), to respond to specific areas, including: cost-effectiveness, workload consideration, quality of support services, and meaningful engagements with grantee partners. Simultaneously, through surveys, grantee partners have also expressed the needs for in-country presence for networking, joint advocacy in shrinking spaces, support on implementation, and capacity development in general.  

During the 4-day training, the UN Women Finance Focal points gained comprehensive knowledge about UN Trust Fund processes and requirements, enhancing their ability to provide support to the 26th cycle grantee partners. These include:  

  • Grants Management System (GMS) - the UN Trust Fund's own system for overseeing and monitoring grantee partners’ projects; 
  • Financial review process;  
  • Planning processes with incorporated grantee partners’ feedback.  

Colleagues collectively learned in “lab sessions”, which facilitated simulation scenarios with the GMS and real-time feedback on the system. Moreover, colleagues provided updates on current in-country contexts and how operational processes are impacted, informing the UN Trust Fund to adapt and further engagements with country offices in the support for grantee partners.  

“Participating in the UN Trust Fund SLF training has deepened my understanding of the grant selection process and strengthened our collaboration on a broader scale. The workshop [created] a clear set of expectations from both ends...building confidence that there is more to [the SLF model] in terms of collaboration and partnering with UN Women Country Office”, shared Sanchita Gorkhali, Operations Manager, UN Women Nepal Country Office. 

Three women are sitting at a table in a room full of people, with their laptops and notebooks open
Finance Focal Point from UN Women Country Office meeting with grantee partners. Credit: Diep Nguyen/UN Trust Fund

On the last day of the workshop, UN Women Finance Focal Point colleagues joined with grantee partners to review implementation plans, GMS, workflow. Dyana Karki, representative from Shakti Milan Samaj (SMS) - a new grantee partner in Nepal, upon meeting Sanchita, shared, “Guidance from UN Women Country Office colleagues, who understand the UN Trust Fund systems, is extremely helpful for our project implementation; we already know when we return to Nepal, we will be ready to speak about the type of support we need and how to work together.” 

In recent years, the UN Trust Fund has adopted significant changes to meet the needs of civil society partner organizations. From equipping them with capacity to navigate the UN system and manage grant funds, to mutually informing and learning to respond in crises, and now bridging the operational gap in in-country implementation, the UN Trust Fund, its grantees and UN Women country teams are redefining donor-grantee partnerships and enabling the collective efforts to power global feminist movements.