I have spent the past few years observing, writing about, and getting more involved in the world of women’s philanthropy. During that time, multiple experts have referred to the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw as being essential to the changes we now see going on in philanthropy, with more efforts to apply both a gender and race lens when framing problems and funding new strategies.
Indeed, with her scholarship, advocacy, and legal expertise, Crenshaw has helped build and disseminate whole new areas of knowledge including critical race theory and intersectional theory. These concepts have helped philanthropists like Peter Buffett and organizations like the NoVo Foundation apply an inclusive gender and race lens that values and addresses the needs of women and girls of color in the United States.
Since its launch in May of 2016, I have started following Ellevate Network on my Twitter feed, and I am always impressed by the quality of their material on both gender equality and gender lens investing. Now, the new startup that aims to capture the $11 trillion women’s investing market, is holding a conference in June to activate gender equality movements. Sallie Krawcheck, the architect and founder of Ellevest, came to my attention last spring when I was creating a list of 9 Gender Lens Investors to Know About.
Here is my capsule on Krawcheck from that article:
American women have not generally been celebrated for their philanthropic activity, so it shouldn’t be surprising that African-American female philanthropists are especially invisible in contemporary culture.
But that wasn’t always the case. In the early 20th century, African-American women were engaged in a literal battle for survival in a segregated and violently racist nation. One African- American woman, however, managed to go from being a laundress who sometimes earned less than one dollar a day to becoming one of the first self-made female millionaires in the United States. Her name was Sarah Breedlove, but she was known far and wide as Madam C. J. Walker, the founder of a hair care empire and a noted philanthropist. Walker used her fortune to champion the YMCA, the Tuskegee Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other important civic and educational organizations.
If you’ve ever had the notion that your big strong male partner is going to protect you and provide for you, you are not alone. This cultural norm runs particularly deep in Latin cultures, where the term machismo is positively identified by traditional men who see it as their duty to protect and provide for their families. But the negative implications of machismo — violence, rigid gender roles, and the expectation that men should maintain financial control of the family — can have devastating impacts for women and children.
This article about The City of Women, a place on the outskirts of the Colombian city Turbaco, is a fascinating window into how women can come together to protect and care for other, more marginalized women in their communities.
I will let The New York Times fill you on what happened at this meeting with NATO and European Union leaders, but this picture tells a large part of the story about what global leadership looks like today — it is heavily male-dominated. Hopefully as more philanthropy takes on gender equality, we will see the percentages of women in politics increase.
I had an amazing discussion today with Helen LaKelly Hunt about how funders are aligning across the political spectrum to help strengthen families, and within this approach there is huge potential for gender equality agendas to be realized.
In the context of Helen’s work as both a relationship expert and a philanthropy expert, she sees clearly how philanthropy can do more to build relationship skills, and in doing so make progress for gender equality. As she puts it, “teaching relational skills transforms the family and bring gender equality to the family.”
Some of the wealthiest women in the world deploying vast fortunes with gender lens grantmaking: This is the future of philanthropy.
But gender norms of the past still haunt many women philanthropists. “Women told us that they would be at a cocktail party, and people would come talk to their husbands, but not them,” said Kate Roberts, Senior Vice President for Corporate Partnerships with Population Services International (PSI). A global nonprofit “focused on the encouragement of healthy behavior and affordability of health products,” PSI is the host organization for The Maverick Collective.
As a social worker, I know too well how local justice systems do not always render judgements that best serve women and girls. I have had the experience of counseling domestic violence survivors still suffering major injuries from a recent assault, and these victims telling me that the offender is already back on the street, and they are afraid for their lives.
So for me, and the clients I serve, it is exciting to learn about the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards, a way to push for better decision-making in the courts worldwide by giving judges positive and negative reinforcement for their decisions involving women and girls.
“There are men who mistreat and abuse girls and women who have no place to live,” says one 19-year-old female shelter resident in Afghanistan, who ran away from home when her father tried to trade her for a young bride for himself after her mother died.
It’s stories like these that suggest timing could not be better for donors to pay more attention to the needs of marginalized women in developing nations. Helpfully, some big foundations are entering the fray and deploying funds to help preserve human rights for women in Afghanistan. Five big foundations, Carnegie, Hewlett, Ford, Packard, and MacArthur all recently pledged a package of $750,000 to support Afghan women in the conservative country where women’s rights are limited.
The paper begins by telling the story of how philanthropy has begun to approach gender in different ways, but still does not integrate gender awareness as broadly as it could.
From the paper:
Few social justice foundations today would seek to create portfolios that were race and class blind, and fewer still fund grantees that offered race- or class- blind programs, particularly in communities of color. That’s because they know that addressing underlying structures of oppression like race and class race and class makes efforts more effective.