Hivos International


Inequality is a global problem that equally affects the prospects of children and adults, men and women, gay and straight, healthy and disabled. It shows up in inequitable income distribution, in all forms of discrimination, and in unequal access to everything from food, water, education, and health to land and natural resources. It prevents huge swaths of the world’s population from participating in politics and decision-making processes.

To help tackle this problem, the Dutch government has created a fund in line with the new Sustainable Development Goal 10 that targets reducing inequality within and between countries. Goal 10 focusses on discrimination and disadvantage generally, as well as income inequality. It calls for the "social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status."

The fund supports “Voice - nothing about us, without us”, a new innovative grant facility for the most marginalised and discriminated people in ten low and lower-middle income countries: Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos and Cambodia. It aims to amplify and connect thus far unheard voices in efforts to leave no one behind.

Voice is managed and executed jointly by Oxfam Novib and Hivos.


The programme

“Voice” targets five groups of people that are amongst the most excluded and disenfranchised simply because of who they are. In all these groups, we will promote a key role for women and youth.

1) People with disabilities

2) Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people

3) Women facing exploitation, abuse and violence

4) Age-discriminated vulnerable groups, notably the young and elderly

5) Indigenous groups and ethnic minorities

To empower these groups and have their voices heard and respected, Voice will strengthen the capacity for lobby and advocacy of civil society organisations and representatives of these groups. This ranges from community-based organisations, youth groups and local movements to labour unions, CSOs, farmers’ organisations and larger networks.  In all cases, we want to ensure that the groups represented have an important say in the agenda and demands of the organisations representing them, i.e. nothing about us, without us.

Voice has two main components; a grant making facility that supports the types of groups and organisations mentioned, and a linking and learning programme that will nurture learning and innovation across countries and groups. The programme will also support the use of innovative ideas to reach these groups for lobby and advocacy. In fact, the first call for proposals is designed to help Voice, its potential grantees and wider community of stakeholders to learn from innovation.

Three specific themes:

  1. Improved access to (productive) resources (finance, land and water) and employment. This is a major a barrier to economic inclusion, particularly for women, youth and indigenous groups; many are in exploitative or vulnerable employment. People with disabilities likewise face enormous obstacles when trying to find decent work.
  2. Improved access to social services, health and education. Quality services are often inaccessible for marginalised and discriminated groups because of language barriers (e.g. ethnic minorities), distance (rural populations) or neglect. Youth and women in particular often lack the information and tools to demand better services.
  3. Space for political participation. Civil society space is under threat everywhere, but marginalised and discriminated groups face higher obstacles to participation in public debate than members of majority communities. This is often the result of a lack of information or skills and resources for effective organisation. Indigenous groups and LGTBI face the most repression of all.

Hivos seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. With smart programmes in the right places, such as Voice, we oppose discrimination, inequality and abuse of power.

Counterbalance alone, however, is not enough. Our primary focus is achieving structural change. This is why we are cooperating with Oxfam Novib and other innovative groups and organisations with whom we share a dream of inclusive societies that leave no one behind.