Anybody Got a Spare $6.3 Billion to Fund Women and Girls?

I was doing some thinking on the funding-of-women quandary. What the Women’s Philanthropy Institute helpfully taught us was that as of 2016, funding specifically for women and girls in the U.S. is at 6.3 billion a year, comprising 1.6% of total philanthropy funding.

That’s not enough, as we explain here.

funding women
Photo by Monica Melton on Unsplash

It’s unclear whether this giving has increased under Trump’s tenure. It’s also unclear whether this type of giving will face new barriers in the COVID economy. Therefore, one has to wonder what we should be doing to try to bridge the gap between the conversation about funding women and girls, and the actual doing of it.

We do have some big pledges in the women’s funding sector. Melinda Gates pledged $1 billion over the next ten years, so essentially $100 million a year. MacKenzie Scott seems to be trying valiantly to hold up her end of the deal on the giving pledge, making a whole lot of donations to women and girls in her first year of big giving. Corporations and foundations are stepping up here, there, and everywhere, it seems, to pledge more money to women and girls. Have a look through our In the News titles for evidence of that.

But the fact is, it all doesn’t add up to $6.3 billion, and the way I see it, if we can’t double total donations for women and girls by 2022, we aren’t going to make it anywhere near gender equality anytime soon.

So, who’s got it? Who’s actually got $6.3 billion that they could hand over? Billionaires, check your couch cushions! You can do it!

Let’s go down the list:

Jeff Bezos: He could definitely find $6.3 billion in the couch cushions.

MacKenzie Scott: Also, could drop $6.3 billion like a dime.

Bill & Melinda Gates: Yes. Can Afford.

Warren Buffett: No biggee.

So those above, easy peasy. They could give that much money, no problem. This could happen with one big transfer overnight to the Women’s Funding Network, and WFN could then go about doubling the funding for women and girls across the globe.

Why doesn’t this happen? Why do the rich cling to that number that defines their self-worth, that billion dollar figure, whether it be 35 billion or 75 billion or 135 billion? What difference does it make, when women and girls need $6.3 billion right now to ensure this movement accelerates appropriately?

I know, you think I’m being ridiculous, and maybe I am. But compare my ridiculousness to that of a culture that allows single individuals to hoard massive amounts of resources, while the rest of the culture descends into disease and decay.

We need radical generosity, and we need it now. I’m glad to see all the new calls for funding for women coming out — the call for $1 billion for women and girls of color over the next decade by the Black Girl Freedom Fund, and the $100 million call from Women Moving Millions to bring in new funding for women and girls by 2022. But it still isn’t enough. We need $6.3 billion, and we need it now.

In The News


Obama Summit Delivers Good News on Gender, and Women’s Funds Step Up Again

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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