Celebrating the black women who built The MATCH Fund

Rosemary Brown once described The MATCH Fund as a “revolutionary miracle.” As the Executive Director of The MATCH Fund from 1989-91 and Board Chair in the early 2000s, she marvelled at how such a small group could transform the lives of so many.

Nearly 20 years later, The MATCH Fund is still making Rosemary proud. Yes, The MATCH Fund’s work is revolutionary. But there’s no miracle about it. As we celebrate Black History Month 2019, we take a moment to honour the extraordinary black women who built this organization from the ground up.

Madonna Larbi led The MATCH Fund in the 1990s. When she was asked to bring 60 women to the World Conference in Beijing, she could have done the easy thing. But, instead, she jumped in a canoe and paddled from one Indonesian island to the next to find women who would not otherwise have been represented. “I practiced what I preached,” Madonna said. And she preached amplifying the voices that are the most impacted by global policies but the least often heard–a central value of The MATCH Fund’s work to this day.

Patricia Harewood chaired the board when The MATCH Fund had nearly lost all funding because she knew in her gut that The Fund was needed more than ever. The organization “remains relevant because women […] continue to find ways to survive and challenge gender, racial, sexual, and class inequality in the midst of significant challenges,” she said. Without Patricia’s leadership, The Fund would not be what it is today: a global convener, a movement-builder, and an investor in the grittiest work at the grassroots.

To celebrate the leadership of these strong black women and many others (Mairuth Sarsfield! Glenda Simms! Maxine Ifill!), The Hon. Jean Augustine will speak on February 19th at Ottawa’s Rideau Club in the context of its Distinguished Speaker Series, co-organized by The MATCH Fund. As a longtime supporter of our organization and an epic trailblazer, we are thrilled that Mrs. Augustine can join us in celebration of Black History Month. We look forward to reporting on her words of wisdom in our next edition.

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