Voice stands for a world where empowered rightsholders are able to express their views and demand their right to responsive and inclusive societies. The Voice program works to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 10, which envisions “social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status.”

Why is inequality a scourge? Who is most affected?

Inequality is a global problem. We see it in unfair income distribution, all forms of discrimination, and unequal access to food, social services, health care, and education. Inequality decreases space for political participation and citizen engagement, and reduces access to productive resources and employment. Finally, it prevents millions from participating in decision-making processes.

But some people are more affected and marginalized by inequality than others. For example: people living with disability; LGBTI+ people; women facing exploitation, abuse or violence; vulnerable youth and the elderly; Indigenous people, and ethnic minorities. They must struggle hard to express their views, demand their rights, and get their voices heard. They are also at great risk when they try to do so, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

How Voice empowers vulnerable rightsholders

Voice is a consortium managed by Oxfam Novib and Hivos. It offers grants for grass-root groups and organizations that represent or support specific rightsholder groups and have difficulty getting funding. Voice’s grants fund projects promoting diversity and inclusion that, e.g. create safe spaces to meet, develop individual self-confidence and leadership skills, build civil society and media support for rightsholders’ demands, and advocate to influence policies and behavior. In Voice’s linking and learning sessions, diverse stakeholders share their experiences, test and scale innovative methods, and document lessons learned. The ten Voice country teams are supported by a decentralized Coordination Team in The Hague, Nairobi and the Philippines.


Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania (Hivos: Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia and Philippines)

Results so far

Since 2017, Voice has supported 399 projects jointly implemented by 760 (local) organizations, informal groups and networks across 10 Voice focus countries. The vast majority of these organizations represent local groups. In 2019, Voice financed 129 new projects, a slight decrease from the 143 in 2018. This was because of a strong focus on empowerment grants, which continue to make steady progress, but require more support. Voice has allocated €33,000,919 in the following grant distribution:

  • 192 Empowerment grants equivalent to €4,938,020
  • 77 Influencing grants equivalent to €13,546,022
  • 95 Innovate & Learn grants worth €11,599,647
  • 28 Sudden Opportunity grants worth €2,793,544

Period and budgets

Voice is an eight-year fund (2016-2024) totaling 86.5 mil euros: 86 mil from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 450,000 from a contract signed in 2019 with the Hewlett Foundation.

For more information, read Voice’s 2019 report dubbed #BeautifulTrouble in English and #VoixIndomptable in French


Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (donor), Oxfam Novib (lead contractor)