Visit any historic property in the United States, and more than likely you’ll discover that women were responsible for its preservation. Though Americans often argue over what to preserve from our nation’s history, one thing remains clear: historic preservation is vital to understanding our nation’s past and forming our national identity. American women have played the main role in securing valuable historic properties to tell the story of the American past, and used political activism, philanthropy, and social networking to do so.
Last night I watched I am Jane Doe on Netflix. Narrated by actress and social justice advocate Jessica Chastain, the documentary reveals the money and power behind sex trafficking of children, primarily girls, in America.
It’s a horrifying story, but one that is important to know if you are a gender justice advocate, since it gets at the reasons why child sex trafficking, aided by internet hubs like Backpage, is a large and growing business in America.
The inability to end the practice of websites like Backpage.com advertising child prostitutes revolves around the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Section 230, which protects internet providers who publish information provided by another source. Backpage.com has been able to effectively use Section 230 to shield itself from legal challenges brought by the mothers of children who have been sex trafficked.
As I continue to survey the landscape of gender equality giving, I am occasionally struck by a particularly effective corporate model for supporting this work. One of the most stunning examples of how corporations can turn their dollars around for the cause of women’s rights is CREDO Mobile, which has been funding gender equality movements for the past three decades.
CREDO Mobile grew out of Working Assets, one of the early corporations to grasp the idea of the potential for funding nonprofits via business. The company started as a long distance provider, and then went into credit cards. One of the company’s first credit card products was a card that generated donations to progressive nonprofits with every use.
Women in philanthropy: Check out Hala Ayala in Virginia, as part of an inspiring wave of women running for office in the state, which is having its elections this year. Hala Ayala is doing the very important work of standing up for what is right in an environment increasingly hostile to women and immigrants.
In Prince William County, Hala Ayala is hoping to bring her values of empowerment for women and equality for all to Richmond, and at the same time, send home one of Virginia’s leading anti-choice, anti-immigrant delegates.
International Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, so we’d like to take the opportunity here at Philanthropy Women to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding to human health, and to ask women givers to do more to support breastfeeding initiatives. If you want to know my opinion, breastfeeding should be a celebrated activity. What a different world it would be if, every time a woman breastfed in public, people around her paused and admired what is one of the miracles of human health.
But instead, we shame women who breastfeed in public. We eye them with disgust. If women post pictures of themselves breastfeeding, they get trolled online. Recently, Aliya Shagieva, the youngest daughter of the president of Kyrgyztan, posted a picture of herself breastfeeding her baby on Instagram, with the caption, “I will feed my child whenever and wherever he needs to be fed.” She was accused of immoral behavior, and trolled until she took the picture down.
One thing that repeatedly intrigues me in philanthropy is the way that women leaders put together the components of giving and social progress in new and creative ways, in order to maximize deployment of funds to important causes. Nearly every week, I come across a new combination of philanthropy and social action that a woman is pioneering.
This week’s amazing tale of women doing good in the world comes from the online retail sector and a new hub for online shopping called Union & Fifth. This nonprofit online store makes it easy for you to donate women’s designer clothing, shoes, and handbags, and choose a cause for where the money will be donated.
Collectively, state legislatures passed 288 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights between 2010 to 2015. Now, a new film tells the stories of women’s horrific health experiences, and the imprisonments, both actual and threatened, that are a consequence of these laws.
Birthright: A War Story is a new documentary that exposes the radical religious right’s infiltration state legislatures. This movement’s goal is not only to strike down women’s constitutional right to abortion but also to curb women’s access to birth control. Some seek to put the rights of fetuses above those of women.
While estimates are frighteningly low for the percentage of financial assets under management by women and minorities, that number is destined to change. Leading the charge for this change as one of the few women-owned asset management companies is ThirtyNorth Investments, headed by Suzanne Mestayer, Managing Principal, and Blair duQuesnay, Principal and Chief Investment Officer.
How did Mestayer and duQuesnay become gender lens investors? They were basically convinced by the business case for more women in corporate leadership. “It was an interesting confluence of increasing our knowledge on the topic of women in governance, and learning about how few women are on corporate boards,” said Mestayer in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. “This coincided with our acknowledgement of our own experiences serving on boards, and seeing the benefits of having diversity on those boards.”
Sustainable Harvest International Founder and President Florence Reed did not encounter many other women leaders in philanthropy when she started the organization in 1997. “I was flying by the seat of my pants. I literally went to a library and checked out a book on how to start a non-profit, and went through it chapter by chapter,” she recalled in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Who knew then how successful her initiative would be: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) was recently named by Charity Navigator as one of the “six highest-ranking charities in the sector making major strides to increase sustainable food production.”
If a foundation’s mission is to build more healthy partnerships in the world, what better place to start than with their own internal partnerships?
In fact, for Peter and Jennifer Buffett of the NoVo Foundation, developing their own partnership as a couple coincided with developing the mission of their foundation, which is to transform relationships across the globe from “domination and exploitation” to “collaboration and partnership.”
I had approached NoVo wanting to talk to either Jennifer or Peter individually, but, apropos of their partnership approach to philanthropy, I got them both. They spoke to me by phone from their home in the Hudson Valley, about two hours north of New York City.