Turning Crisis Response On Its Head

Despite being disproportionately impacted by disasters, women’s leadership in times of crisis still goes unrecognised and under resourced. And yet, when disasters strike, women are the first to take action, often putting their lives on the line to protect others 

When a woman is placed at the centre of emergency response, she builds resilience for herself and her community, the capability to defend her rights, and leadership skills that last a lifetime. 

ActionAid established the Arise Fund to drive our pioneering women-led humanitarian work, which recognises and supports women’s leadership during crisis.

The Arise Fund’s ambition is to raise $10 million to empower one million women around the world with the resources and networks they need to lead their communities in times of crisis.

Together, we will: 

  1. Prepare women before disaster strikes through support in emergency preparedness, conflict resolution training, and community-based protection programs
  2. Provide rapid response funding in times of crisis to ensure women and their organisations are resourced when they need it most. 


“I’ve witnessed the work of many good and on the ground organisations first hand, through my roles as a senator, diplomat and civilian. ActionAid always impressed me as one of the best in the world. Genuinely changing and saving lives.”

Natasha Stott Despoja AO, Arise Leadership Circle Member

Why women?

More lives are saved

When women lead crisis response communities are better prepared and have greater resilience to increasing hazards and shocks

Women’s position in society is transformed

Women are seen and respected as capable leaders, which contributes significant gains in gender equality

Women and girls are better protected  from violence

They work together to ensure their rights are protected and respected in emergencies

The Arise Leadership Circle

Arise is not only a global fund, but a global network of women working and rising together to face challenges and bring about change. Meet the Australian women who commit their time and expertise to drive the objectives of the Arise Fund and meet the visionary target of empowering one million women to lead crisis response.

Janette O’Neill

Janette is the Group Head of Sustainability at QBE Insurance. Janette joined QBE in 2017 to establish and lead their global sustainability function.

Angela Priestley

Angela is the founding editor of  Women’s Agenda, a publication for career-minded women. She has been a journalist and editor for ten years.

Carole Brownlee

Carole has worked as a senior Finance Executive with the Village Roadshow Group of companies since 1991 and is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Roadshow Films group of companies.

Evie Bruce

Evie is the Australian Managing Partner for King & Wood Mallesons Mergers & Acquisitions and Banking & Finance practice teams. She also leads the Australian Financial Institutions sector team.

Natasha Stott Despoja AO

Natasha is the founding Chairperson of Our Watch and has been Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls. She is a former Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and former Leader of the Australian Democrats.

Robyn Nixon

Robyn is the General Manager of the Intrepid group’s philanthropic arm, The Intrepid Foundation.

Sally Garis

Sally is a Consultant with Social Ventures Australia. Prior to joining SVA, Sally worked at Philanthropy Australia and was the General Manager of 10×10.

Sarah Morton-Ramwell

Sarah is a partner and global head of pro bono practice and corporate responsibility at Ashurst with a background in human rights, gender rights and reproductive rights.

Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal is the founder and CEO of The Remarkable Woman; an organisation founded to accelerate the path towards equality, for women and for the world.

Jo Norman

Jo leads the Norman Family Office in the development and administration of their philanthropy strategy.Jo is a proud advocate for both environmental and women’s justice and equity.

Kristina Stefanova (Chair)

Kristina is the co-founder of Bundaleer Sustainable Investments and has more than 15 years of experience working with the public and private sector in Australia, the US, UK, and across regions.

Find out more

Read about our programs supporting women's leadership during crisis.
See More