As the economy and job market shift further toward globalization, we see more and more corporations amping up their attention to women and girls. An important new example of this is the Vodafone Americas Foundation, which in March of 2016 announced a fourth core focus: empowering women and girls in the technology field, and helping women use technology to live healthier and more prosperous lives.
One form of Vodafone’s grantmaking that intersects with its work on women’s empowerment is its Wireless Innovation Project (WIP), which is currently open for applications. WIP provides funding for new uses of wireless technology to address social issues. Many of the past winners have been women, and projects frequently focus on addressing issues that impact women’s lives. One 2014 winner of a $300,000 grant was MobileODT, a smartphone application which can turn any digital camera into a device capable of detecting early signs of cervical cancer. Since winning the WIP grant, the use of MobileODT has expanded to be used in 21 countries around the world. On December 19, 2016, this life-saving application also received FDA approval in the U.S.
“Mobile has been the leverage at critical junctures in solving health problems, particularly ones that impact women,” said June Sugiyama, Director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation, in a recent conversation with Philanthropy Women.
Empowering women and girls in tech is an area of funding that Vodafone Americas Foundation has been involved in for a while now. The foundation has supported projects like Girls Who Code and TechGirlz that are helping to build the future generation of women in tech jobs. With Girls Who Code, the foundation is helping to provide computer science education and exposure to one million young women by 2020. TechGirlz is focused on providing middle school technology and education that will keep girls interested in technology and get them geared up for programming classes in high school.
Through its women’s empowerment grantmaking area, the Vodafone Americas Foundation is also partnering with Internews, an international non-profit “working at the intersection of media, information, and development to ensure people are fully empowered with the information they need.” With a grant from the foundation, Internews launched a campaign entitled “Secure” which provides a toolkit to help women prevent and recover from online harassment such as doxing, trolling, and other instances of online gender-based violence. The goal here is to help women take better control of their privacy and mobile security and reduce the high rate of harassment of women online.
All of this points to an increasing awareness among funders of the role that mobile technology can play for women in accessing education, economic opportunity, and security. Nevertheless, Sugiyama noted that most foundations focused on technology are not led by women, and there is still much work to be done to change that. One way the Vodafone Americas Foundation works to address this problem is by providing funding to support tech conferences focused on building women’s leadership in the field.
As a clear signal of its commitment to women’s empowerment, in 2015, Vodafone became one of the first organizations in the world to set forth a mandatory minimum maternity benefits standard. Vodafone has also made a commitment to increase women in leadership roles to 30 percent within its company.
As more women use mobile technologies, their experiences are being collected, understood, and valued in new ways, and companies like Vodafone are becoming more aware of the needs and priorities of women both as employees and as citizens. By providing more ways for women to learn tech skills, get STEM education, and move into leadership roles in tech companies, Vodafone is joining other global corporations like Coca-Cola and Walmart in pivoting further toward women’s empowerment.
Welcome again to Philanthropy Women. I am glad you are here. Given the new political climate, some of you may be worried about funding for women and girls. But, particularly in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the grant funding to support women and girls has been growing over recent years and looks like it will continue to do so.
Supporting more women and girls in STEM became an early priority of the Obama administration, and this interest and activity continued steadily for the years of the Obama presidency. 2016 was no different. This past year saw funding flowing for STEM programs for women and girls like never before. The ever-growing list of corporations and sponsors of education and opportunity for women and girls in STEM is staggering. It suggests a rampant popularity for philanthropy focused on engaging women and girls in preparing for STEM education and careers.
Let’s take a look at some of the funding efforts for women and girls in STEM. Many of the funders on this list support Girls Who Code, one of the largest efforts at getting more women and girls into STEM fields. Others are doing work in a different way, such as The Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation, which sponsors teams for robotics competitions, and is particularly reaching out to form more teams with girls.
There are so many partners in STEM for girls. We are going to start at the beginning of the alphabet, providing more information on as many efforts as we can find. Today, if we’re lucky, we’ll get through the names of supporters starting with A. Like I said, it’s a long list and will take several posts to cover them all. In fact, there are about 120 corporate sponsors of STEM funding for women and girls that I am planning to write about.
Accenture: Accenture is a supporter of Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion and Club Partners programs. It has strong corporate policies around diversity, including an emphasis on increasing supplier diversity. For more information, check out this page.
Adobe: This past July, Adobe hosted a Girls in Tech Summit in the UK. Adobe is also a sponsor of Girls Who Code. In addition, the Adobe Spark website features a list of some of the most impressive women leaders in tech called Women Who Dare.
Amazon: In 2014, Amazon hosted the first Girls Who Code class in Seattle, WA. It also hosts summer immersion programs for girls to learn more tech skills.
AOL Charitable Foundation: AOL is another supporter of Girls Who Code, and also in 2016 became one of the partners for MAKERS, a network of companies “celebrating and empowering their game-changing female employees.”
AppNexus: This firm partners with Girls Who Code, Hack NY, the Flatiron School internship program, NYC Tech Talent, Pipeline, and Jopwell to provide internships for students, particularly women and girls, who want to go into tech careers.
AT&T: This past year at the Clinton Global Initiative, AT&T launched a new partnership with Roadtrip Nation aimed at empowering young girls interested in STEM fields. Roadtrip Nation received $2.2 million from AT&T in 2016. The telecom giant has been investing millions in a broad array of efforts for improving diversity in STEM. For a more comprehensive view, go here.
Autodesk: Autodesk is another supporter of Girls Who Code and MAKERS. Its Project Ignite learning platform enables teachers to help students design and code into the classroom.
Funders Starting with B
Bank of America: Bank of America inspires and encourages young women to pursue a career in STEM by partnering with Code First: Girls and STEMettes, along with sponsoring Girls Who Code. Additionally, Bank of America joined in sponsoring the 2017 Summer Immersion Program.
Barclays: Barclays’ Untapped Unicorns project is meant to show them how girls can become leaders. They bring in some of the UK’s most powerful women entrepreneurs who address the issue of why so many women-led businesses are less successful than men-led corporations.
Best Buy Foundation: The Best Buy Foundation has enabled many girls to learn STEM by giving a grant the Youth for Technology Foundation, so they can afford new equipment and technology. Along with this support, the Best Buy Foundation is a Clubs Program sponsor for Girls Who Code.
Blizzard Entertainment: Blizzard Entertainment is a sponsor for Girls Who Code. Providing between 250k and 499k in funding. They also sponsored the 2017 Summer Immersion Program for Girls Who Code.
Booz Allen Hamilton: Booz Allen Hamilton is a sponsor for Girls Who Code. They sponsor from 50k to 149k and are an Alumnae Network Founding Sponsor for Girls Who Code.
CA Technologies: Along with being a partner of the Clubs Program for Girls Who Code, CA Technologies sponsors and supports both Girls Who Code and Pratham to advance girls’ and women’s education in STEM.
Cadence: Cadence is a Clubs Program Partner for Girls Who Code. In addition to this, Cadence sponsors from 50k to 149k to Girls Who Code.
Capital One: Capital One hopes to close the gender gap in computer science and technology by sponsoring companies like Girls Who Code and hosting event and programs within their company, too. While doing this, they are also an Alumnae Network Founding Sponsor and a Clubs Program Partner for Girls Who Code.
Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women and Girls: In addition to being a sponsor for the 2017 Summer Immersion Program, the Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women and Girls works with other organizations to start programs for girls’ and women’s STEM.
Citrix: Citrix has sponsored between 50k and 149k for Girls Who Code, and also sponsored the 2017 Summer Immersion Program, like many others on this list.
Cotton Bureau: Cotton Bureau has a program called Black Girls Code that helps girls or color pursue a career in STEM fields. They wish to encourage and inspire girls to be powerful and strong like Oprah Winfrey, the role model of Black Girls Code.
Craiglist: Craigslist sponsors from 50k to 149k for Girls Who Code.
Dell: Dell believes girls should be able to have a STEM education to help the world thrive in the future, thus it is a Clubs Program Partner for Girls Who Code and sponsors from 250k to 499k to Girls Who Code. Dell also works with the Girl Scouts of America to get this STEM education to many girls.
ESPN: ESPN is a Clubs Program Partner and sponsor of 50k to 149k for Girls Who Code. Likewise, ESPN granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to different charities during their Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards in 2016.
Facebook: Facebook sponsors from 50k to 149k to Girls Who Code. Along with this, they were a partner of the 2017 Summer Immersion Program.
First Data:First Data worked alongside KKR and Girls Who Code in the 2017 Summer Immersion Program to impact young women and girls and to inspire them to pursue a career in STEM.
Ford Motor Company: As well as sponsoring the 2017 Summer Immersion Program and being a Clubs Program Partner for Girls Who Code, Ford’s STEAM Experience worked with Karlie Kloss to host free STEM summer camps for girls to get more women into STEM careers.
General Electric: T0 help get more women in STEM, General Electric has sponsored between 250k and 499k to Girls Who Code, participated in the 2017 Summer Immersion Program, and set up their own program that’s purpose is to close the gender gap in STEM.
General Motors: General Motors Canada is a Clubs Program Partner for Girls Who Code. To inspire and motivate girls and women to have a career in STEM, General Motors Canada has a 1.8 million dollar fund for girls’ and young women’s scholarships and other STEM programs.
Goldman Sachs: In August 2016, Golden Sachs hosted an event to introduce young girls to influential women in STEM to encourage them to pursue a career in those fields. Like many other companies on this list, Golden Sachs also was a 2017 Summer Immersion Program Sponsor.
GoDaddy: GoDaddy was a 2017 Summer Immersion Sponsor. Additionally, they sponsor from 50k to 149k for Girls Who Code.
This speech by Meryl Streep is an amazing testament to the power of women’s voices to cut through all the crap and get right to the heart of things: calling out Donald Trump for emboldening a culture where disrespect invites disrespect and violence begets violence. Streep renders supreme judgement on Trump for his incredibly toxic behavior, particularly his mocking of a disabled journalist.
Streep supports several causes specific to women and girls, and a wide array of causes that intersect heavily with women, including rape and sexual abuse, slavery and human trafficking, and human rights.
Streep’s Philanthropy Focused on Women and Girls
Girl Up: As part of the the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up is one of the largest and most influential global organizations focused on girl empowerment. In collaboration with Girl Up, Streep co-narrated the film Girl Rising, which explored the experiences of girls in Haiti, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Peru, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan on their journey to education, revealing the many barriers they face and how they overcome them. Streep also served on a panel with other luminaries at the April 2015 Women in the World Summit, helping to set the direction for Hollywood around gender equality.
National Women’s History Museum: Streep is the spokesperson for the National Women’s History Museum, and has been a significant donor there, with her gifts to the organization including the $1 million she made for her role in The Iron Lady.
The Writer’s Lab: In April 2015, Streep funded a screenwriters lab for female screenwriters over forty years old called the Writers Lab. Run by the New York Women in Film & Television and a collective called IRIS, the Writers Lab is the only known initiative in the world for female screenwriters over forty.
Other Gender Equality Activism and Philanthropy by Streep: Streep signed an open letter in 2015 created by the ONE Campaign, addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they served as leaders of the UN summit in September of 2015. Also in 2015, Streep wrote to Congress urging them to support legislation for equal pay and sent every member of congress a copy of the book Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for the ERA is Now by Jessica Neuwirth. In March 2016, Streep also signed onto another ONE Campaign calling for gender equality on International Women’s Day.
Streep’s Own Foundation — Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts
Streep also has her own foundation called Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts. Started in 1983 and based in Morristown, NJ, the foundation is a joint effort of Meryl Streep and her husband Donald Gummer, a well- known sculptor.
A 2012 report by Forbes found Streep has given away millions to charity through her foundation, with support going to many organizations including Oxfam America, New York’s Meals on Wheels, the Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Women’s History Museum. The report also found that no one at Streep’s foundation is paid a salary.
Locally speaking (because I’m a Rhode Islander!), Streep has also been influential. In 2012, Streep supported Rhode Island’s Segue Institute for Learning, a charter School in Central Falls, and Upward Bound, a nonprofit which prepares low-income students for college.
One of the most fascinating trends in women’s philanthropy is the advent of women’s giving circles. In fact, I got so interested in this trend, that I decided to start a giving circle of my own. More about that later. First, let’s take a look at some of the amazing things that giving circles have done over the past year in the U.S.
While the idea of giving circles as a vehicle for growing grassroots philanthropy has been around for over a decade, with the new platforms and technologies available for crowdfunding and online donating, the progress on giving circles has really sped up. Giving circles are now propagating in so many forms and varieties, that I get overwhelmed every time I google it and try to write about it. But, just to get us all started, check out the giving circle page at the Women’s Foundation of California. They have developed a number of different ways to use the giving circle. Other signs that interest in giving circles is increasing: Community foundations like The Rhode Island Foundation are offering matching funds for giving circles that meet certain criteria.
One expert in giving circles that has made impressive strides in developing the form is Jacquelyn Caster, Founder and CEO of The Everychild Foundation. Check out our article about that work here.
The Explosion of Women’s Giving Networks
And while it’s not a giving circle, per se, we want to give a big shout-out to Women Moving Millions, which has mobilized at least $500 million to date in funding specifically for projects and programs benefiting women and girls. That group has big plans for the future. Other major women’s donor networks include Rachel’s Network, the Women Donors Network, the Women’s Funding Network, and High Water Women. All of these collaborative efforts are what make women’s philanthropy so unique and powerful. We look forward to covering this work in depth in the coming years at Philanthropy Women.
No one saw them go. No one knew who left first, or if they all picked up at once and left together, only that they were all gone. From Miss Blossom Mae Simcock, aged 99 years and 364 days, to tiny Timarie Jones, born just before midnight the day before.
The nursing homes were nearly emptied. Mr. Hiram Quill at Country Gardens was the first reporter; no one had come to bring his breakfast, and not a single one of those lazy girls was anywhere to be found, no matter how many times he rang his buzzer. Mr. Quill decided to complain to Miss Blossom, whose 100th birthday party was scheduled for today. People from the TV were coming, and there would be cake. Mr. Quill did love cake.
But Miss Blossom was gone, only her walker and slippers left behind. Every nurse was gone, from halls and desks; every puppy dog-scrub-wearing girl pushing carts down the hall; every white-haired old lady gone from beds and wheelchairs; no one in the breakfast nook; no one at the crafts table; no one left at all except Mr. Quill and a few dozen bewildered old men like him, ringing buzzers that brought no girls.
No girls at all, Mr. Quill told the harried policeman who came later that morning. But the policeman, Officer Buncombe, had problems of his own: his wife, gone; his two-year-old daughter, gone with her.
Schools couldn’t open: not enough teachers. Hospitals at half-staff, boy babies crying for their mothers. Bob Templeton, sweat running down his jowls as he tried to serve every man in his diner, said it had to be the Russians.
“Aliens,” said Mr. Donald Dunwoodie, father — until lately — of three girls. Mr. Dunwoodie’s teal-and-gold tie, hastily knotted, looked bilious against his pink shirt, but who could blame him for that? Everybody knew the man was color-blind and relied on his wife to dress him.
“Wouldn’t surprise me a bit,” Bob Templeton said, looking up at the grease-spotted ceiling. His mind was already ticking over all the shifts to fill, wondering who might be pressed into waiting tables in a pinch: the short-order cook who spoke no English? The high school boy who washed dishes from within a happy cloud of marijuana?
The state legislature met as usual, but found nothing to legislate. Authorities were on the case, but found no leads. Someone reported seeing the women in Georgia, in Tennessee, but these reports proved false. Up north, other folks said. New York. Then the picture started going around, the empty fashion week runway, red carpet littered with puddled dresses and high-heeled shoes, as if whoever wore them had kicked them off, as if they knew they wouldn’t be needing them anymore.
If girls as vain as models could be tempted into leaving designer clothes behind, the minister said, surely it was Satan himself doing the tempting.
Officer Buncombe stayed on the job. Not everyone did. Calls kept coming in. Brawls, shootings, car crashes. And the other calls. My daughter. My wife. My grandmother. My aunt. Routine. He didn’t bother to log them all anymore. The little boys’ voices still bothered him.
My mama’s gone.
Where’s your daddy, son?
Don’t got one.
Female, missing. Ten years old. Fourteen. Twenty-two and engaged. Thirty-five, three sons and a bun in the oven. Too young to toddle. Too old to walk.
But they’d walked away somehow.
Officer Buncombe thought about what the preacher said, about it being a judgement. He didn’t doubt that some men deserved that judgement. He knew all he needed to know about the evil men do in this world.
But his Amanda: he loved her. He’d never done her a lick of harm. Even let her keep her name when they got married, joked that he wouldn’t put another Buncombe into this world.
He’d even changed diapers. Not just once. Three or four times, at least.
It seemed like the bars were the only things open these days but he stayed out of them, took long walks at night, watching the horizon as if they might all come walking back, sorry for the ruckus they’d caused, ready to be forgiven.
Never before had the stars seemed so bright, so far away.
Kathryn Kulpa leads a veterans writing group in Rhode Island and is an instructor at this summer’s Writefest in Houston, Texas. Her work is published or forthcoming in New Flash Fiction Review, Milk Candy Review, and Pithead Chapel.
In 2016, we saw the power of women grow in society like never before, and their influence in philanthropy continued to increase simultaneously. Women Give 2016, the yearly research series from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, revealed how Millennial women are coming to philanthropy with a different mindset, and are influencing strategies and dollar amounts of giving in new and important ways. Additionally, the study found that women’s participation in the labor force has increased, resulting in heightened power for women in financial decision-making both independently and for their households.
Major developments for women and philanthropy continue to evolve, even as the U.S. faces its most openly misogynist President, and gender equality movements brace for the implications of this shift in power. But President Trump would be foolish to ignore or discount Generation X leaders like Melinda Gates and Millennial leaders like Priscilla Chan, and the growing influence of their philanthropy. These women, and legions of others like them on different levels in philanthropy, will be important partners in leading the country in the coming years.
Over the next few posts, I will be reviewing some of the significant trends and emerging topics in women and philanthropy from 2016. Let’s start with one of the most important new trends first.
Women Championed the Fight for Equality and Inclusion and Broke New Ground for Women and Girls of Color
Some of the boldest philanthropy of 2016 came from foundations openly taking on new feminist agendas, including widening the lens for inclusion of women and girls of color. In late 2015, NoVo Foundation made its $90 million dollar commitment in this grant space and began a series of intensive listening tours across the country to help identify strategies for addressing inequality for women and girls of color.
At the same time, women’s funds across the country came together to fund Prosperity Together, a five-year $100 million commitment to improve economic security for women and girls. In December of 2016, the collective of 29 foundations and women’s funds announced it had exceeded its first year commitment by 46%, with funders like the Women’s Foundation of California adding an additional $2 million in 2016.
The biggest winners in my book for women’s giving in 2016: the many foundations and women’s funds that came together to make Prosperity Together happen. These women’s funds broke new ground on gender and racial equality with this work. For a full list of the partners, Visit the Women’s Funding Network here.
We’re hiring. We are looking for a few good writers who want to delve into the world of women’s giving. If you are a writer with a passion for this area of philanthropy and would like to apply, please go here for next steps.
We have a free daily update called Giving for Good, which aggregates the news from a select group of progressive foundations, nonprofits, and media outlets that focus on inclusiveness, equality, and social justice. If you want to know what is happening in this funding space which includes women’s funds, feminist foundations, and corporate foundations with a focus on gender equality, check out Giving for Good. And relatedly, if you are a nonprofit or foundation that wants to be included in the Giving for Good feed (free publicity!) please message me with a request and I will consider it. There is a contact form link in the right sidebar.
We don’t want to go to a paid subscription business model but may need to do so if we can’t bring in enough revenue with advertising. So if you are a foundation or nonprofit, particularly in the women’s giving arena, please consider advertising with us. I can provide you with specs for the associated benefits of our levels of sponsorship.
I have resigned from my position as Senior Editor at Inside Philanthropy. I am a huge fan of the work being done there, but the truth is that my priorities need to be a) my private practice, and b) launching Philanthropy Women. I am grateful for my two and a half years of experience writing for that fine publication, and hope to find ways to collaborate with them in the future.
We appreciate support and feedback. Don’t be shy if you have questions, or want to talk about a specific idea for how to make the site more powerful and relevant. We want to be not just broadcasting our own content, but listening to the community of Philanthropy Women, so we can honor and serve this growing world of feminist strategy and influence.
According to a recent article in the Ms. Magazine Blog by Gaylynn Burroughs, Policy Director at the Feminist Majority Foundation, reproductive rights advocates are still expecting “an all-out effort by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” Read the full article, Not Going Back: The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid for more details.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act will have huge ramifications for access to birth control, as well as access to health care for women in general. In addition to losing access, women will also lose funding for birth control and may again be left to shoulder all of the costs associated with family planning.
But we’re not going back. There are many with immense resources in this fight. In an article I wrote for Inside Philanthropy in July of 2016, I detail the philanthropy investments that have been made in defending reproductive rights. Here is a quick recap of the funders on the pro-choice side of things:
Top Pro-Choice Funders
Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation
The foundation named after Warren Buffett’s late wife and bankrolled by Buffett family wealth is the most important player by far in the abortion space. STBF has given tens of millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as well state affiliates, since 2010. The foundation gave over $35 million in 2014 alone. We don’t yet have data for 2015, but we’re betting that the pattern has continued, with the biggest grants going to Planned Parenthood’s national infrastructure and a range of smaller ones going to state affiliates.
Meanwhile, STBF is the single largest funder of the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers. It’s given the group tens of millions of dollars in recent years, money which—among other things—funds training doctors to perform abortions, a skill no longer taught at most medical schools. In 2014, it gave the group $23 million to support its national telephone hotline, which NAF describes as the “only toll-free source of information about abortion and referrals to providers of quality care in the U.S. and Canada.” Other big STBF grants fund an array of pro-choice groups that are deep in the policy fights over abortion access, like NARAL and the National Women’s Law Center.
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The next-largest donor to the fight for reproductive health and justice is the Hewlett Foundation, which has given over $10 million to support Planned Parenthood’s U.S. work since 2010. While that figure is significant, it is less than a 10th of what STBF gave. Likewise, Hewlett is a big supporter of the National Abortion Federation, though it doesn’t approach the level of STBF, with grants to NAF totaling under $4 million since 2010. A range of other groups advocating for abortion rights have also received Hewlett money. They include the National Women’s Law Center, Guttmacher Institute, and Center for Reproductive Rights. (Again, not all this grant money related directly to abortion.)
Open Society Foundations
OSF is not widely associated with the reproductive rights struggle, but it makes sense that it would be, and grantmaking confirms that the Soros-backed foundation has given big at different points. In 2012, it made a $13.2 million grant to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and at least $5 million in other OSF grants have gone to that group since 2010.
That grantmaking reflects an announced $20 million investment in 2011 to be distributed over a four-year period, with the specific purpose of building centers in South and Southeast regions of the U.S. for reproductive health services. Again, bear in mind the earlier point about the many services provided by Planned Parenthood that have nothing to do with abortion. OSF has also backed various other pro-choice groups over the past five years, at smaller levels.
David and Lucile Packard Foundation
The Packard Foundation is another longtime player in the reproductive rights space. And, through its program for Population and Reproductive Health, is another key funder of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, giving over $7 million to this group since 2011. Packard also backs the National Abortion Federation to the tune of around $2.2 million in the past few years. In addition, Packard grants fund smaller pro-choice groups such as NARAL, which has pulled in $400,000 in the past few years. The Center for Reproductive Rights, another popular group among funders, has received over $2 million in Packard money since 2011. The National Women’s Law Center has also gotten steady funding.
Ford isn’t a huge player in the abortion space, but it weighs in at times, and sometimes the grants are large. For instance, it gave Planned Federation of America a $1 million grant in 2015. If you dig through Ford’s grants database, you’ll find various grants for U.S. pro-choice work here and there.
JPB is a newer and less consistent player in the reproductive rights space, but it pops up now and again as a significant funder. It gave Planned Parenthood Federation of America a total of $6 million in 2012 and 2013.
I enjoyed reading Jacki Zehner’s call to make 2017 the “Year of Wonder Women” — the year when we all become defenders of “justice, progress and equality.”
Without the female President many of us envisioned leading the charge on the causes we care most about, we must all become even stronger defenders of those values.
Zehner writes: “This month marks the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman in DC’s All Star Comics #8 in December, 1941. She was introduced as an Amazon warrior who was sent to the world of men to fight against the biggest threat facing the world at that time; the Nazi party in World War II.”
Wonder Woman in 1941 was fighting a similar tide to the one that we are called upon to fight now: the tide of inequality, of discrimination, and of white nationalist sentiment.
For another perspective on an important female superhero, I’ve always identified more with Bat Girl. Initially cast as a love interest for Bat Man to stave off homoerotic rumors about Bat Man and Robin, Bat Girl’s latest rendition in comics is a rugged and resilient figure. Gail Simone called her “one of the smartest and toughest women in comics … One thing the book is truly about, is that the after-effects of something like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or other trauma-related syndromes, can strike even very smart, very intellectually tough people, even soldiers and cops, a subject that is generally overlooked in comic books.”
As a therapist, I recognize the Bat Girl superheroes in nearly every meeting I have with a woman or man, or someone who is questioning their gender. Many people come to therapy to recover from the blows that life has delivered, and my job is to help them get back on their own feet with smarts and toughness.
We were dealt a serious blow this year with the election of Donald Trump, but I see women every day stepping up and seizing their power to make the world a better place. Jacki Zehner is one of those women I look to for inspiration and guidance. Her many years of work to form mighty coalitions of funders for women’s empowerment is an impressive testament to what one woman can do to make the world a better place.
But I also look to myself. Because with Philanthropy Women, I have created a new resource for women to find their resilience, find their strategy, and make the most of their resources. In my private practice, I aim to be that person of power for my clients, showing them that their resilience is paying off, that they have become stronger and wiser, and that next time around, they will do a better job. With my writing and publishing online, it’s much the same, except as a friend so cleverly put it, “Online, you can have a much bigger waiting room.”
With the change in leadership in the U.S. toward a more conservative, white nationalist mentality, it’s a good time to look around the globe and discover other leaders of women’s empowerment who are outside of the U.S. political sphere.
One impressive leader is Cherie Blair and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which is doing work internationally to help women develop business skills and earn income. Next year, the foundation will even be expanding its work to reach some of the most marginalized women in the world, those impacted by war in the Bekaa Valley, an area heavily impacted by the flood of refugees across the border of Syria.
Hopefully the Cherie Blair Foundation won’t lose any of its funding in the coming age of Trump, though one of its donors has been The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. The Foundation also counts among its donors the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dell, J.P Morgan Chase, and Bank of America, and many others. So while the Foundation is based in Europe, it clearly has a large American donor following.
Founded in 2008, The Cherie Blair Foundation appears to have a keen understanding of the role that corporations can play in building women’s economic power and independence. In an interview with Susan McPherson for Forbes, Blair lays out the reason why corporations are so important to the gender equality agenda. “The private sector has a crucial role to play in driving women’s empowerment. It accounts for over 90 percent of jobs in the developing world, so it’s perfectly placed to bring more women into its workforces and supply chains, pay them fairly and promote them into leadership roles,” says Blair.
Another essential point Blair makes is about not only giving women the technology to be connected online, but also helping them develop the skills to use that technology. Her Foundation has done some groundbreaking work in communicating with women via mobile technology to help shift gender norms and attitudes, as well as build women’s economic empowerment.