Potluck Power: How This Women’s Giving Circle Feeds Global Gender Equity

Photo from a 2018 trip to Rwanda for Dining for Women Members to learn about grantees.

Sharing food: one of the ultimate human communing experiences. Now imagine sharing food with a group of generous women who, like you, want to make every dollar they give to charity count toward helping women and girls and addressing gender equality in developing countries.

Welcome to Dining for Women (DFW), a global giving circle dedicated to funding social change for women and girls.  At monthly potluck dinners, members come together and discuss today’s issues impacting women and girls, particularly the organizations being funded that month, and in the process, these 8,000-plus women raise more than a million dollars annually to fight for gender equity. Dining for Women was founded in 2003, and many chapters have already had 10 or even 15 year anniversaries.

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Ms. Foundation Shifts Strategic Course Toward Women of Color

The Ms. Foundation’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan targets low-income women, many of whom are women of color. (Photo Credit: Ms. Foundation Strategic Plan, Building Power: Advancing Democracy)

The nation’s oldest public women’s foundation recently announced that it will steer in a new direction over the next five years — toward growing its commitment to low-income women and women of color by more than $25 million.

In addition, the Ms. Foundation will form its first-ever political fund, which will support the legislative agenda for women and girls both nationally and locally.

With Teresa C. Younger at the helm, the  Ms. Foundation for Women is joining other big funders in the feminist philanthropy space, including the NoVo Foundation and Prosperity Together (the national coalition of women’s funds focused on low-income women and women of color) in making economic, social and cultural equality for women and girls of color a central feature of its strategic plan. “Women of color are a political force to be reckoned with,” said Younger, in a press release announcing the new strategic plan. “In 2018, we delivered unprecedented electoral wins in Alabama, Georgia, and New York — yet we are sorely underrepresented in philanthropic investment, with only 2% of that spending going to women and girls of color.”

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Gender Equality Research Round-Up: AI, BlackHer, Wikipedia, Sleep

Feminist philanthropy is based on a growing body of knowledge demonstrating how gender equality improves civil society. This research is branching out in new directions all the time, studying and identifying ways that gender equality impacts every level of social functioning, from intimacy to politics to technology. I’ve rounded up just a few examples of the latest research that backs up the claim that a feminist world is a potentially healthier world for everyone.

  1. Both Men and Women Sleep Better in More Equal Societies: A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family confirms that one of the most fundamental building blocks to health and well-being, sleep, is facilitated better in societies with less sexism. When we sleep better, we function better overall, making this study another important example of the deep health and well-being pay-offs that gender equality brings to the table.
  2. BlackHer helps Track the Candidates and Provides Support: A new platform is helping to get the word out about Black women running for office in 2018, and is also a hub for research and advocacy for a more representative democracy. One of the great benefits of the internet is its ability to inform the voting public. This website is a great new place to gather information and help get more progressive Black women elected.
  3. Study: Artificial Intelligence Can Be Used to Promote Gender Equality: It’s true: the tech bots can be on our side in the battle for more equality and less sexism in society. Coming out of Ireland, this article is part of a three-part series that looks at how “AI can help employers promote gender equality, including gender pay gap reporting, encouraging gender diversity and fostering collaborative workplaces.”
  4. Kathleen Loehr’s New Book, Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy: If you’re a feminist philanthropy newshound like me, you might want to pre-order this one. Kathleen Loehr, a longtime consultant and expert in the realm of women’s philanthropy, is coming out with a new book that promises to identify the specific changes that organizations, teams, and individuals in philanthropy need to make in order to increase support for women.  This will be a must-read for fundraisers in the feminist philanthropy realm who want to understand how to get their message across and help donors do more gender equality work.
  5. Feminist Philanthropy of a Different Sort: Donating Your Research and Writing to Wikipedia: I’m always intrigued when women (and men!) find new ways to give of their time and talent for the cause of gender equality. Jess Wade, a physicist living in London, challenged herself to write one Wikipedia biography a day on the undiscovered world of star female scientists. As of 2016, only 17% of Wikipedia entries cover women. Wade decided to use her passion for diversity in the sciences to provide more knowledge to the world free of charge and on her own time, setting a powerful example for all of us on how we can each do our part to build a world where women are seen and recognized for their contributions and accomplishments. Bravo, Jess Wade!

Related:

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WFN Summit Explores What it Will Take to Get More Women Into Office

Women’s Funding Network recently hosted a summit in New York, bringing together thought leadership to grow the movement for women’s equality.

Feminist leader and journalist Marianne Schnall’s eight-year-old daughter had a striking question after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Why have we not had a woman president?

The question wouldn’t go away for Schnall, and soon she found herself bringing it up to thought leaders and scholars, trying to figure out what it would take to put a woman in the highest governmental office in America.

One thing Schnall realized in this process was the need for stronger coalition-building across progressive movements. “This isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. It’s an issue of having a reflective democracy, and that’s why we need to have men be part of these conversations,” said Schnall.

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Ecofeminism to the Rescue: Mary Robinson Launches New Podcast

Mothers of Invention, a new podcast featuring former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and comedian Maeve Higgins, will celebrate the fascinating world of feminist climate change strategy.

The Guardian reports that former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, is launching a new initiative to call attention to feminist solutions to climate change.

From The Guardian:

Women around the world who are leading the fight against climate damage are to be highlighted by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner, in the hopes of building a new global movement that will create “a feminist solution for climate change”.

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New 25th Anniversary Issue of GreenMoney Dedicated to Women

The April 2018 issue of GreenMoney is entirely written by women leaders in the gender lens investing space.

Feminist philanthropists take note: The 25th Anniversary issue of GreenMoney is entitled Women and Investing, and is written entirely by women. Here are some quick summaries of the top articles.

Julie Gorte of Pax World/Impax AM:

In her piece, Gender Equality: With or Without the Federal GovernmentGorte notes that the current GOP administration is less gender-diverse than the previous five (FIVE!) administrations. Gorte contends that there are many other ways that gender equality can be effected besides federal policy. She points to recent moves in corporations pushing for more board diversity, and provides evidence for gender equality being a significant stimulus to local economies.

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London Convening Focuses on Ending Violence Against Women

Left to Right: Marai Larasi (Imkaan); Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK); Emma Watson; Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA–The Young Feminist Fund)

“I think supporting girls and women’s organizations is the greatest hope we have for worldwide transformative change – and my philanthropic choices are grounded in that belief,” said celebrity and activist Emma Watson, at a convening on July 10 in London, sponsored by NoVo Foundation, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy and Ariadne.

Watson also noted that  research across seventy countries concludes that women’s movements are the key factor in enacting policy change. “This makes it all the more shocking that a survey of European foundations found that less than 5 percent of funds were targeted towards girls and women.”

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Top 10 Happenings in Feminist Philanthropy for Mid-Summer 2018

Feminism is taking a beating in the summer of 2018, but the fight is far from over.

It’s summer: the time of year when I start feeling like a slouch, like I’m not getting enough done, and may never get enough done again. But then I remind myself of a wise Chinese Proverb: Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.

Relaxation is an essential part of being human. Relaxing doesn’t mean you’re not as rugged as everyone else. It doesn’t make you weak and ineffectual. Relaxation makes you who you are, and who you are becoming. 

So I am welcoming this period of reduced work and enjoying the gorgeous weather this summer in New England. And at the same time, I am keeping my eyes and ears open to the world of feminist philanthropy, where fascinating, and frightening, events continue to transpire.

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Leader Spotlight: Alessandra Biaggi Takes on New York Incumbent

Alessandra Biaggi is running against incumbent, Jeff Klein, for the New York State legislature.

In this election cycle, a record number of women are taking on powerful incumbents and systems that have stalled progressive policies in states across the country. Case in point: Alessandra Biaggi, who is running for New York State Senate in District 34 in Westchester and the Bronx. Biaggi is only thirty-two years old and is a former policy aide to Hillary Clinton. She is also a lawyer who served as counsel to Andrew Cuomo.

And after last week’s enormous primary upset of 28-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over ten-term U.S. representative Joe Crowley, well, this moment is meeting Alessandra Biaggi. Courageously, she is taking on a sitting New York State Senator, Jeff Klein, who has led an obstructionist group called the Independent Democratic Conference, comprised of seven Democratic state senators who have caucused with the Republicans. Jeff Klein’s alliance with the Republicans has enabled the blockage of a slew of progressive legislation, including early voting and codifying reproductive health rights. Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference also blocked Andrea Stewart Cousins, a female state senator from Westchester and the Bronx, from becoming the majority leader of the Senate.

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UPDATE: Big Win for Progressives as RI Dems Rescind Endorsements

Moira Jayne Walsh, Incumbent Democratic candidate for Rhode Island State Legislature, District 3, Providence. In an interview with Philanthropy Women, Walsh stated she does not want the endorsement of a party the endorses John Carnevale, who has been accused of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Great news for progressives in Rhode Island, as Moira Jayne Walsh and Bridgett Valverde prevail in their efforts to correct the Democratic party after it veered off course and endorsed some decidedly unfit candidates. From WPRI:

Bowing to heavy pressure from progressives locally and nationally, the Rhode Island Democratic Party on Thursday rescinded its endorsement of two controversial General Assembly candidates.

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