Learning from women and girls

Learning from women and girls

Key insights from the five year Women and Girls Initiative


3 October 2023


The National Lottery Community Fund

Still from the Women and Girls Initiative animation

Back in 2016, The National Lottery Community Fund (the Fund) invested over £44 million in the women and girls’ sector through its Women and Girls Initiative (WGI). We are proud to have been a key part of this work, delivering WGI Learning and Impact Services with our partners, DMSS Research and CWASU, since January 2018. As we now publish the Final Impact Report, it seems fitting to share a few reflections, and signpost to some of the WGI legacies.

It has been so refreshing and such a joy to work on the Women and Girls’ Initiative (WGI). It demonstrated what could be achieved when women and girls are listened to and given the time and space to access support as, when and for as long as it is needed. It was a brave and insightful investment from the Fund, with flexibility embedded. The WGI enabled projects to develop their expertise, improve the availability of holistic, specialist support and build stronger evidence of what works well. It supported projects to develop, adapt and grow, whilst ensuring the voice and influence of women and girls remained at the centre of this support.

As Learning and Impact Services partners between 2018 and 2022, we were also able to be flexible and adaptive to projects’ needs, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Activities included running Theory of Change and evaluation workshops, facilitating action learning groups, masterclasses and webinars — and bringing together a range of public outputs: blogs, briefings, reports, and audio-visual resources.

In 2020, when an in-person conference became impossible because of pandemic lockdowns, we adapted our support offer by hosting regular on-line community calls for project staff. As an alternative to the conference, we commissioned Leeds Animation Workshop to create an animation, involving project staff, volunteers and participants in the process. All published outputs produced through the Learning and Impact Services can be found through the Women and Girls Initiative home page and via references throughout the Final Impact Report.

The final impact report:

  1. introduces the WGI, what it was and its background.
  2. explores why holistic, specialist support achieves better outcomes, and outlines the challenges and barriers to this.
  3. describes the difference made by the WGI for women, girls and funded organisations.
  4. shares learning around co-production from implementing the WGI.
  5. considers the contribution of the Learning and Impact Services to the success of the WGI.
  6. concludes by summarising key successes, challenges, learning for the future, ending with recommendations for funders, commissioners, and women and girls’ sector projects.

If you have only 15 minutes spare, read the Executive Summary and within the report, the three key messages at the beginning and concluding thoughts at the end of each chapter. Through the Final report page, you can access the report, Executive Summary and Appendices. If you prefer to watch and listen, we recommend watching the animated film and the recent Lunchtime Talk.

Please get in contact if you want to find out more about the WGI. And to those who were funded through the WGI or worked in other ways with us as the Learning and Impact Services team – thank you. These were difficult, challenging times but we all demonstrated what can be achieved when women work collectively together.

The Women and Girls Initiative was made possible by The National Lottery Community Fund. It supported 62 projects with funds raised from The National Lottery. For more information about the WGI, see our project page.

The WGI Learning and Impact Services was delivered on behalf of the Fund by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR), DMSS Research (DMSS) and the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) – the partners. The partners delivered a programme of support to projects with the aim of capturing and sharing learning and creating a stronger community of services that has greater influence on decision-making structures across the country.

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