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”.
Perhaps more revolutionary still, the new initiative is light-hearted in tone, optimistic in outlook and presents positive stories in what the originators hope will be seen as a fun way.
Called Mothers of Invention, the initiative will kick off with a series of podcasts showcasing the work of grassroots climate activists at a local level, as well as globally resonant initiatives such as the legal challenges under way in numerous jurisdictions to force governments to adhere to the Paris agreement goals. Scientists and politicians feature alongside farmers and indigenous community leaders from Europe, the US and Australia to India, Kenya, South Africa and Peru.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we are tracking the grantmaking and strategizing that is happening in the ecofeminist space, from the new Roddenberry Prize seeking solutions to both climate change and advancement for women and girls, to the grantmaking done by the Gender Just Climate Solutions award, which makes grants that share both feminist and climate strategies. We’re also showing how women’s giving collectives like Rachel’s Network are bringing feminist philanthropists together who share a vision of how to integrate climate solutions with gender equality. Stay tuned!
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 Government, Gorte 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.
Choice Quote: “These kinds of strong economic and financial drivers give investors reasons to care about gender equality, and to use their tools—investments, proxy voting, and engagement—to achieve it.”
Kristin Hull of Nia Impact Capital
In Putting Feminism into Our Finances, Kristin Hull explores several important markers of feminist values that can be considered when investing, including whether the company has women in leadership, provides access to capital for women, and produces products beneficial to women. Investors should also consider hiring female investment advisors and using their own voices as advocates for better policies in the companies they are investing in.
Choice Quote: “From women in board leadership, to CEO pay, to workplace equity we can all use our investor voice by voting proxy statements in alignment with fair and equitable corporate policies and procedures. ”
Choice Quote: “Staying true to core beliefs, being unafraid to carve out a non-traditional niche, and tending carefully to the surrounding community have been huge factors to my, and to Saturna’s, success.”
Choice Quote: “It is clear that managing a portfolio with even the simplest gender standards is an uncomfortable position to find myself in. I hope that by my rising to the challenge, future generations will discover my path is easy to find and follow.”
There is more of interest in this issue, including an overview of how Pax World persuaded finance and tech companies to address their gender pay gaps. Clearly, there is a lot happening in the gender lens investing space, where profit and purpose are being integrated in new ways.
“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.”
Watson chaired the opening session of From Violence to a Place of Power: A Funder Convening on Movement Building to End Sexual Violence. The convening was facilitated by Jude Kelly, and explored the many ways that philanthropy can increase its support for ending gender-based violence. The conversation in London was a “deepening” of an earlier convening held in April in New York, which brought together U.S.-based funders on the subject. In London, the goal was to examine the UK and European context for the movement to end violence against women and girls.
The day-long convening examined the fact that gender equality advocates face growing threats to their work and require more resources to preserve the gains women have already made, and move toward Sustainable Development Goal Number 5: the attainment of global gender equality.
Watson joined activists Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK), Marai Larasi (Imkaan), and Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA–The Young Feminist Fund), all of whom spoke about the urgent need for funders and donors to hand over control to gender equality movement leaders and give them ongoing financial support to continue their work.
Emma Watson’s giving provides a strong model for other funders to follow. She currently funds more than thirty organizations in the equality and women’s rights space, both in the UK and globally. In the past 12 months alone, Watson has donated $5 million to gender equality philanthropy. Part of this $5 million went to support the Justice and Equality Fund, which is hosted by Rosa, the UK’s leading women’s fund.
“Long-term partnerships, rather than funding against short-term results, are absolutely critical,” added Watson. “Without flexible, core funding, activists don’t have the room and space they need to be innovative and create long-term change.”
“Young feminist organizing is about holding a line that’s been courageously made by so many others before them, and then advancing that shared agenda in today’s context,” said Devi Leiper O’Malley, one of the panelists from FRIDA — the Young Feminist Fund. “Young women, girls, and trans*youth have the curiosity, anger, openness and drive to create lasting change. Their activism might look different from what has been done before, but it deserves flexible, long-term support and trust from across philanthropy.”
The conference also examined austerity in Britain, which has been cutting back funding for women and girls surviving violence since 2011, with a 31% reduction in funding for gender-based violence prevention from 2011 to 2012. Another panel discussed the rise of authoritarianism across Europe, with panelists representing Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland, and migrant women.
“We are witnessing growing and strong opposition to women’s rights across Europe — and to civil society as a whole,” said Gergana Kutseva of the Bulgarian Fund for Women.
The takeaway for funders: fighting gender-based violence should be a top priority for many more in philanthropy.
“With survivors leading the way, we’re witnessing an unprecedented mass mobilization against sexual violence,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation. “Ending violence against girls and women is fundamental to every philanthropic mission, and there is a huge opportunity for many more funders to join in supporting this innovative and important work.”
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.
Disney is Starting a New Way to Fund Women in Film. It’s called Dream Big Princess, and the initiative will fund 21 women and girls across 13 countries to produce short digital films about women who inspire them. Each like or share of the projects that has the hashtag #DreamBigPrincess will result in a $1 donation from Disney to the United Nations Foundation’s “Girl Up.” While I am not a big fan of the title for this initiative (can we stop calling women “princesses” once and for all?) my twelve year old daughter advised me not to make a big deal about that problem, as this is an important new step for a big corporation that we must acknowledge and praise.
A new fund will give $100 million to women of color entrepreneurs. Richelieu Dennis, CEO of ESSENCE, announced the new initiative, entitled New Voices Fund, at the 2018 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans. The fund has already invested in, or committed to, over $30 million in funding to black women entrepreneurs since its founding in 2017. This money marks a new advancement in funding for women of color who want to pursue entrepreneurial careers. Women of color entrepreneurs are a sector of our economy that is rapidly growing and in need of more financial investment.
New Policy Briefing: Fight Corruption: Finance Gender Equity: This policy brief provides an essential outline of the impact of corruption in continuing the oppression of women. While government corruption might not sound like an important life-threatening problem for women, it most certainly is a big contributing factor to gender inequality. Corruption makes life more difficult, if not impossible, for the poorest people in communities. This briefing calls us to increase government transparency, particularly in procuring new business, so that women and girls have a decent shot at advancing in society. The report also explains governments can “close the loop on a key weapon used in corruption” by exposing and addressing violence against women.
Commonwealth Commits to Gender Equality by 2030: Whenever a large network of governmental bodies ups their commitment to gender equality, the whole world should stand still and applaud. This past spring, the Commonwealth, a network of 53 countries with a total population of to 2.4 billion people, committed to achieving gender equality goals by 2030. A total of 305 million pounds (approx. $397 million in U.S. dollars) was committed to support this agenda at the meeting. What will this mean for real women and girls in the world? Hopefully 12 years of education for every girl and an overall improvement to the lives of 17 million people.
Women Thrive Alliance Closes its Doors: The announcement came in late June that Women Thrive Alliance, which has been cultivating gender equality movements globally for twenty years, is closing its doors. Their work will continue through World Pulse, so all is not lost, but I wonder if this is an indicator of the downsizing that is happening in civil society globally. A paper published by Berkeley Law and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights also suggests that women human rights defenders are facing a tougher climate on the ground in many places in the world. I am also trying to understand what happened to the United States’ funding of the development sector’s gender equality and women’s empowerment issues. Data from the OECD suggests that funding from the United States for aid in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment went from $26.211 Billion in year 2014-2015 all the way down to $20.814 Billion in year 2015-2016. If I am reading this data correctly, that would mean that the US’s contribution to this funding dropped by $5.3 Billion dollars from 2015 to 2016. I have emailed the Washington office of the OECD for verification and explanation of this data, and am awaiting their response.
The Crisis of the Century for Progressive Women Funders:Trump’s appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and what it bodes for Reproductive Justice. There is no doubt that this event has shaken and stirred the progressive women’s funding community like no other. This linked article gives a good sense of how the battle lines are being drawn. It will be up to women funders to help the grassroots protect this fundamental medical right.
Trump’s Apparent Alliance with Putin and What it Means for Feminist Philanthropy — This article in The Guardianspells it out pretty clearly in this sentence: “From Europe to Asia, Trump is destroying alliances with democracies, while making friends with authoritarian leaders.” This can only mean bad things for feminist philanthropists, who can only thrive in an environment where human rights are respected and women’s autonomy and authority can continue to grow. Authoritarian regimes are not good for women’s empowerment.
But there are Still Good Things Going On in Feminist Philanthropy.Gender Just Climate Solutions grantmaking is open. These alliances between gender justice and climate justice are one of the most important strategic moves in the space.
Grantmaking is Open for Sexual Violence Prevention through the Sexual Violence Research Initiativehere. And important for women journalists looking for funding is also the Buffett funding for women journalists, which closes August 5.
The Data On Women Continues to Grow. WomanStats.org, which bills itself as “the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women worldwide,” is now open for business. You can create an account for free and mine the data on women to your heart’s content. Excuse me while I get lost in using this tool to study the research on women, starting with comparing murder rates of women in the United States, China, and the Czech Republic.
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.
Alessandra Biaggi is progressive and smart and tough and made for exactly this moment in time.
We asked Biaggi a few questions to help you get to know her better.
Here are her answers:
What is one thing most people don’t now about you? I’m left handed.
If you could pass one law today, what would it be? The Reproductive Health Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade in NYS…no, it’s not codified; yes, my opponent is the reason.
What or who helps you keep going through the criticism and attacks inherent in a political campaign? The mantra that nothing is life and death, but life and death.
If you could have dinner with one famous woman (dead or alive) who would it be? Hannah Arendt
What’s the first line of your epitaph? They said it was not possible.
Chocolate or wine? Chocolate. I stopped drinking alcohol after the 2016 election — for many reasons — one of which was that the waters we were about to charter, I believed, required a steady and clear mind to find the truth.
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.
In a letter dated July 4, Democratic Party Chairman Joe McNamara withdrew his endorsement of Michael Earnheart, a pro-Trump challenger running in the primary against incumbent Rep. Moira Walsh, and Greg Acciardo, a former state senator with a criminal record who is running against a progressive newcomer, Bridget Valverde, in Senate District 35. [Full Text]
The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women shared a copy of the letter to Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, withdrawing the controversial endorsements:
It’s nice to be one of the Rhode Island progressive Democrats celebrating this victory today. I supported Moira Jayne Walsh and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and was pleased to wake up this morning and learn that the Democratic Party listened to concerns and did the right thing. It’s also an interesting example of participatory democracy. The party demonstrated a more relational attitude regarding the public’s concerns, especially as these concerns gained national attention, and took action regarding that new relational attitude.
In a text message, Moira Jayne Walsh let me know that she will not be asking the party to reconsider their non-endorsement of her. “I don’t want to belong to a party that endorses John Carnevale,” she said. Carnevale is currently on trial for perjury after being accused of not living in the district he represented, and in 2011, he was arraigned for first and second degree sexual assault charges. Carnevale’s ex-wife has sought restraining orders against him several times, alleging physical abuse. In police statements, Carnevale’s ex-wife reported that Carnevale had “choked and punched her, struck her with a cord, pinned her against a wall, slapped her, and dragged her by the wrist out of her house in separate incidents.”
There is still much work to be done to make the Democratic party in Rhode Island a more ethical organization. The party also needs to be more representative of the population and more adherent to core values of equality and inclusion. However, it’s good to know that the avenues of communication appear to be working well enough that party leadership got the message loud and clear over the past few days, and responded to the call.
Bridgett Valverde, who was also victorious in getting the party to rescind its endorsement of her opponent, Gregory Acciardo, had this to say:
If you are interested in knowing more about these progressive women running for office in Rhode Island, please visit their websites:
Bob Plain sums up the sad state of affairs in his post, RI Dem Party Doesn’t Endorse Three Progressive Female Legislators, so I’m going to quote extensively from him. The upshot from my perspective is that the Rhode Island Democratic party’s abandonment of progressive women candidates is a huge misstep for the party, along with their recent endorsement of John Carnevale, who is still on trial for perjury and in 2012 stood trial for charges of first and second degree sexual assault.
From Bob Plain:
Being a progressive woman may be beneficial at the ballot box in the 2018 election but it doesn’t seem to help with respect to endorsements from the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
Three female legislators learned this the hard way when the state Party endorsed their more-conservative primary opponents. Reps. Moira Walsh and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, both Providence House members, and Sen. Jeanine Calkin, of Warwick, aren’t the endorsed candidates in their races. They are the only incumbents who didn’t win the endorsement of the state Democratic Party.
Walsh lost the House District 3 endorsement to Michael Earnheart, which didn’t surprise her. “My opponent changed affiliation to democrat in March,” Walsh tweeted about Earnheart. “Previous to that he’s been a republican his entire life. He’s a vocal Trump supporter. Now watch as the @RIDemParty shows its true colors and endorses my opponent. Straight up shameful.”
Earnheart could not be reached for comment. His Twitter account, which previously included advocacy for conservative positions, seems to have been deleted. On his campaign Facebook page, peppered with requests from progressives to explain his positions defended some conservative ideas. “I fully support the Second Amendment and will defend against legislation that attempts to stop or interfere with lawful gun ownership,” he wrote.
Let’s stop right here and call attention to the lack of credentials that Earnheart has as a Democrat. He is a pro-gun Trump supporter. Full stop.
Another incumbent progressive Democrat not endorsed by the Democratic party of Rhode Island is Marcia Ranglin-Vassell:
Ranglin-Vassell lost the endorsement in her reelection bid to Holly Coolman, a Providence College professor who doesn’t support abortion rights or, locally, the Reproductive Health Care Act. She told the Providence Journal she considers herself a “traditional Democrat,” though some counter that’s a euphemism for conservative Democrat.
“Not so random thought -speaking the truth has consequences, speak the truth nonetheless,” Ranglin-Vassell tweeted yesterday.
In 2016, Ranglin-Vassell upset Majority Leader John DeSimone, a close ally of conservative-leaning House Speaker Nick Mattiello. House speakers traditionally condone, or recruit, primary opponents against legislators who veered from the speaker’s agenda. Ranglin-Vassell and Walsh have both been outspoken advocates for sharp increases to the minimum wage and codifying abortion rights in Rhode Island law, both of which Mattiello opposes. The pair represent at least the third time a liberal-leaning female legislator from Providence has attracted a conservative primary opponent since Mattiello has been speaker of the House.
On the Senate side, Calkin will have to defend her seat in a primary against Mark McKenney, who won the state party’s endorsement. Calkin is a Bernie Sanders supporter who upset longtime Senator William Walaska in 2016. McKenney and Walaska, who died a year after losing his legislative seat, are friends and McKenney had long fancied Walaska’s Senate seat.
Incumbents aren’t the only women who were passed over in the Party’s endorsement process. In spite of being active with her town party and the state Party’s Women’s Caucus, Bridget Valverde, of North Kingstown, lost the party endorsement to Greg Acciardo, a former state senator from Johnston who has been charged with drunk driving on several occasions.
The point for women donors: it’s important to know about these local legislative candidates in Rhode Island. These are the women leaders who most need and deserve to hold their seats as our state legislatures grow their female leadership base.
Philanthropy Women will be featuring more information about women candidates in the run-up to the primaries and the general election. To learn more about these three women running in Rhode Island, please visit their candidate websites: