Leaders Fight for Feminist Giving in Congress with First-Ever Hill Day

“The power imbalance in philanthropy—often maintained by those without intimate knowledge of a community’s historical context, the needs on the ground, and the most urgent issues—spurs activists in marginalized communities, especially Black women and girls, to call for more input in determining what should be prioritized, how it should be funded, and who gets the money.” This is the opening paragraph of Feminist philanthropy: Dismantling silos and raising long-term funding (link).

Advocates at WFN’s first Hill Day included Monica Ramirez, Genisus Holland, Jocelyn Frye, Latanya Mapp-Frett and Fatima Goss-Graves. (Image credit: WFN)

Feminist giving, especially that focusing on women and girls, and especially women and girls of color, faces a dilemma. On one side, traditional philanthropic organizations are often hampered by a “white savior” mindset and scrutiny from the patriarchy; on the other, Black women face access issues, and are often not granted adequate trust to control large gifts. 

“As a Black woman, I’ve seen how a white woman can ask funders for a certain amount for their organizations. But when someone like me asks, they give you a percentage of that, or they feel like you need to tap and dance differently to get those [funds]…[like] you’re not qualified to handle that much money,” said Latanya Mapp Frett, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women and author of The Everyday Feminist: The Key to Sustainable Social Impact — Driving Movements We Need Now More than Ever. 

The root of the problem is laid out in a report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. U.S. nonprofits working to advance women’s and girls’ causes received $7.9 billion in support in 2019, only 1.9 percent of overall charitable giving. Giving for women and girls of color received just a fraction of that, $356 million, or 0.5 percent of total foundation grantmaking in 2017. This averages to about $5.48 per year for each woman or girl of color in the United States, according to the Ms. Foundation for Women report Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less.

“Pocket Change was our first stab at identifying that women and girls of color are doing more for less and that they are the key and center of almost every social justice and civil rights movement in this country and potentially worldwide,” said Ms. Foundation president and CEO Teresa C. Younger

The report also showcased the increased need to hold philanthropy accountable to the affected communities and their movements, according to Groundswell Fund CEO Yamani Yansá Hernandez.

At its core, feminist philanthropy aims to challenge the white, cisgender-hetero-patriarchal status quo in traditional philanthropy and broaden the giving landscape in a way that includes everyone who at some time may have been excluded from mainstream philanthropy. It is focused on movement building based on trust and solidarity. And building feminist movements often entails funding smaller organizations.

The article also states:

“The women leading the way represent many different cohorts across the spectrum, said Kiersten Marek, founder of Philanthropy Women and author of Feminist Giving: Creating New Frontiers in Social Change: There is a multimillionaire faction headed by groups like Women Moving Millions and Women Donors Network, state-based women’s foundations and policy/political activist groups, corporate women’s philanthropy, and those who support WPI and take a research-focused approach. “We need to have a big tent and let everyone in. We can’t afford to alienate anyone, especially folks who will work hard to share the vision and strategies of women givers.” 

Activists working on the front lines believe feminist philanthropy cannot be put into a singular box; they call for the philanthropic response to be more nimble and less confining in its vision. For example, “We have de-siloed the Ms. Foundation, which is exactly what needs to happen within broader philanthropy. Instead of asking people to apply around one area, understand that these are interconnected…and initiatives will take much longer than a five-year window,” said Younger.

Leaders like Hernandez agree that funders should “trust funding those who are in the crosshairs of injustice, with multiyear, general operating grants, removing arduous reporting and application barriers.” Supporting grassroots organizing is also essential as an engine to drive social change, especially intersectional organizing.

“Being strategic—working in collaboration with other, often larger funders, to raise more funds for gender equality—is a big key to this movement sustaining itself and growing,” said Philanthropy Women’s Marek. “Being intersectional, willing to acknowledge and attempt to account for multiple forms of oppression when funding grantees, is also super important.”

For the full article, please follow the link below:


One: Feminist Funders Rally on Capitol Hill for Senate Briefing on Top Women’s Issues

For the first time ever, more than 150 gender justice funders and advocates gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington DC for Feminist Philanthropy Hill Day. This advocacy event was organized by The Women’s Funding Network in partnership with the National Women’s Law Center and the Global Fund for Women. Historically, philanthropy tends to work as individual groups, but Hill Day focused on building collective power. 

The Hill Day consisted of a how-to training on policy advocacy, led by National Women’s Law Center, followed by a Senate briefing on domestic and international women’s issues. “Funders stood together to establish a power base, educate our nation’s political leaders, and urge them to take a gender-informed approach to policy in the U.S. and around the world,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.

This event was the first time many organizations engaged in policy advocacy at the federal level. Some examples of the issues raised include:

  • “I asked for three specific areas of support: committing to $16M to support the childcare crisis, supporting the SAFER Act to hold college campuses accountable for their support for survivors, and to remove salary history questions for federal employees. —Cassie Beer, Director, Women’s Fund of Greater Fort Wayne, who met with Sen. Mike Braun.
  • We discussed how both philanthropic and government resources have been allocated to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, allowing them to thrive and multiply while abortion services are fighting for survival. Brandi Collins-Calhoun, Movement Engagement Manager, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, who met with staff from the office of Rep. Kathy Manning. 
  • “Until WFN offered this opportunity, I had never thought about coming to the Hill. We have been focusing on our state legislature, but WFN helped me think bigger and gave me the tools to be successful.”  — Jenny Steadman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Aurora Women and Girls Foundation in Hartford, CT who met with staff from Sen. Blumenthal, Sen. Murphy, Congresswoman DeLauro, and Congresswoman Hayes.

The day finished with a series of panels specifically focused on the need for a feminist foreign policy, which centers women and girls in a country’s diplomacy, defense and security, aid, trade, climate security, and immigration policies.

For the full press release, please use the link provided:


Two: Investors Are Eyeing the Untapped Space of Women’s Health

Sasha Kelemen pursued a career in investment banking with the goal of providing capital to women. After graduating from business school in 2017, she joined the healthcare team at Goldman Sachs. By 2021, she’d been promoted to vice president and chosen by a senior partner to work on the $17 billion sale of Athenahealth to private-equity investors.

Kelemen liked her job at Goldman and planned to stay, but things changed after she had her first daughter. During her pregnancy, she read obsessively about women’s health. This, combined with the pandemic and working non-stop made her realize there was untapped business potential in the space. “There’s something here,” she said. “Why is nobody on Wall Street paying attention?”     

Kelemen pitched Goldman on letting her work with more women’s-health companies, but was turned down because those start-ups were too small for a firm like Goldman. At the same time she was trying to figure out how to be a working mom — short on time to pump breast milk, pick up her daughter from daycare, and care for her when she got sick — with few examples of how to make it work. “There’s no sick days in investment banking,” she said. So how do you do this?

The bank SVB Leerink, due to a growth spurt in its healthcare coverage, recruited Kelemen in summer 2021. In a 90-minute meeting, she pitched Barry Blake, SVB’s global co-head of investment banking, on her vision to build a team to land deals in women’s health. She also told him about her family and intentions to grow it.

Blake endorsed both of Kelemen’s plans. Now, at Leerink Partners, Sasha Kelemen leads a small team of female investment-bankers focused on making deals in women’s health, a historically underfunded space. Kelemen’s group advises investors as well as early-stage startups and multibillion-dollar companies, most of which are founded or led by women. She advocates for changes to make the work environment more friendly for women in general and working mothers in particular. 

Last year, Kelemen sold a menopause-treatment startup to a national OB-GYN services company. It was the first deal Kelemen put together from start to finish and the first time her client, the startup’s CEO, Jill Angelo, wasn’t a man. 

Right after the deal was announced, on World Menopause Day, Kelemen hung up the phone and kissed her second daughter, who was about 5 days old, thinking she might have better access to care one day. That was the only work she did during her maternity leave.

For the complete article, please use the following link:


Three: African women: Grants, Not Loans, Will Help Climate Finance

The Africa Women and Gender Constituency has called on African governments to give women climate finance in the form of grants, as they are the most affected by the climate crisis.

Speaking at the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) in Nairobi, Priscilla Achakpa, and the Women Environment Programme in Nigeria said that women need a fair share of grants, not loans and public financing. 

The Summit provides an opportunity for African Union member states to call for action against the devastating impact of climate change and global warming on several regions of the world and Horn Africa.

“For those who still doubt the reality or severity of the climate crisis, we are here to share the stories of how it is affecting African women, our societies, our livelihoods, our well-being, and our economies today. It affects our health, our cultures, our heritage, and our traditions,” said Achakpa.

“We are deeply concerned by the destruction of forests and communities in Congo, just as we are deeply troubled by the appalling state of women and children in ‘camps’ resulting from extreme weather events in Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, and Nigeria.”

She added that Africa’s food and nutrition security can only be achieved through gender-just and Pan-African policies and solutions that protect indigenous farmers and traditional farming systems from commoditization.

Achakpa said that African women’s voices should never be an afterthought. She shed light on how women and young girls struggle with unpredictable weather patterns. “African women constitute the majority of the people on this continent, therefore, climate debates, discussions, decisions, and actions must be led by women.

To the Global North and Polluters, the African women urged them to cut their emissions by phasing out fossil fuels now, a step back from the colonial era mindset.

The link to the full article:


Four: Inspiring Girls USA Relaunches #ThisLittleGirlIsMe Campaign

Inspiring Girls USA is proud to announce the upcoming relaunch of its transformative social media campaign, #ThisLittleGirlIsMe. Inspiring Girls USA is a nonprofit organization with a mission to raise girls’ aspirations and break down gender stereotypes by introducing girls to incredible role models and engaging them in meaningful conversations about their future.

#ThisLittleGirlIsMe will run from October 4th through 18th, with a special focus on October 11th, International Day of the Girl. Thousands of women across diverse countries, backgrounds, ages, and professions are expected to participate. 

With a mission to inspire and empower young girls, the campaign invites women to post a picture from their childhood and the piece of advice they’d give their younger self. The campaign aims to celebrate the influential strength of women role models, particularly those whose stories remain untold. 

LinkedIn said the first campaign “created the most buzz in the history of the platform.” The campaign has included posts from extremely prominent women, including Annie Lennox, Billie Jean King, Sheryl Sandberg, Martina Navratilova, Julia Gillard, and Arianna Huffington. There was even an endorsement from Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. 

Key stats:

  • Girls experience a 30% drop in confidence between the ages of 8-14 (The Confidence Code For Girls, Ypulse, 2018)
  • 41% of girls aged 11-21 think they are expected to pursue certain careers because they are a girl, but girls are twice as likely to consider STEM careers after hearing from a women role model working in the sector (Microsoft, KRC research, 2018)
  • While 67% of young women believe they do not have the same professional chances as men, 70% of girls feel differently about their futures after hearing from women role models (Research by Intribe for Valore D and Inspiring Girls Italy, 2019)
  • Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women (Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, The Gender Snapshot. 2020)
  • 27% of managers and leaders globally are women (ILO Quantum Leap Report, 2019)

For the full press release please use the following link:


Five:  Canadian Assembly Calls on Women to Use their Voice to Promote Change

“To change the world – you have to use your voice.” This was the advice of the recent GEF Assembly, which sought to challenge the status quo to promote gender safety and gender equality.

At the end of August, approximately 1,500 delegates from 185 countries joined together for the 7th Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly where the new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund was launched. This year’s Assembly included a record number of representatives from civil society, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.The wider participation had an impact on the structure of the GEF in its ninth replenishment cycle. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is a membership union composed of over 1,400 member organizations from both government and civil society. With input from approximately 15,000 experts, IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. 

At the request of the GEF, IUCN supported and worked with three representatives from the Resilient, Inclusive and Sustainable Environments (RISE) grants challenge to advance the GEF’s environmental and social management framework. This includes requirements to understand, mitigate, and prevent gender-based violence in environmental programs as a part of its safeguards.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and its Gender Plan of Action are the first among multilateral environmental agreements to recognise the importance of addressing gender-based violence, particularly for women rangers and environmental human rights defenders. The three RISE Grants Challenge representatives at Assembly delivered the message that the globe’s vision for a healthier and more sustainable planet needs to also promote gender safety as a part of a comprehensive approach to driving gender-responsive environmental action.

For the full story, see the link below:


For more information on IUCN, please visit the website:



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