PW Update: Research and Focus Changes in January 2022

Well my friends, welcome to 2022! January is a time of research and development here at Philanthropy Women, as we refine our strategy going forward. After much consideration, we have decided not to rebrand or change the name of the website. Because it so accurately fits the content, it needs to stand. And because the gender equality issues in philanthropy still need so much attention, we will be keeping the name.


Beyond that, the future is much less clear. It turns out that by doubling up on niches, philanthropy being one niche and gender equality being (sadly) another niche, we have struggled to find a solid foundation. However, this does not mean that gender equality philanthropy does not need and deserve more media attention. In fact, our struggle is kind of like a real-time example of the entrenched marginalization of women, and feminist ideas, in the charitable realm.

We are also considering some technical upgrades to make PW more useful as a community, possibly by adding a group forum and membership system where members can contact each other and network internally. More about that idea as we test out plug-ins to find the best features that fit with our site’s potential needs and limited budget.

What’s Going on in Feminist Giving?

Big doings include Google’s Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, which gave out $25 million to 34 organizations worldwide doing gender equality work. The big winners in the US included Black Girls CODE, Girls Inc. of New York City, Start Small Think Big, and the Eva Longoria Foundation. You can learn more about the winners in the US and across the world here.

Other major breakthroughs: Sonya Passi’s organization, FreeFrom, is one of the $4 million grant recipients of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge. We featured Sonya Passi in our COVID 19 Special Edition: Women’s Leadership Matters. This is a big breakthrough for survivor funding, an important subtopic that we cover here at Philanthropy Women.

What Else is Happening?

At the Gender Equality Forum in June, a total of $40 billion was pledged for efforts targeting the rights of women and girls. That included a $2.1 billion commitment from the Gates Foundation, but Stasia Staszewska at AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) has some serious questions about the Gates Foundation and its commitment to gender equality, as well as many of the other commitments made at the GEF Forum. From Stasia Staszewska:

“Over the course of the GEF, the Gates Foundation made a total commitment of US $2.1 billion. It has also spent years pushing anti-feminist agendas such as corporate takeover of seed, agriculture and health, and continues to stand against waving intellectual property protections related to COVID vaccines today – all actions that harm millions of women and their communities across the globe.”

Staszewska also discusses the commitment made by Open Society Foundation, a new pledge of $100 million while they simultaneously close programs serving women and girls. So while there is seemingly more funding, it’s also very hard to track where this money is going and how it is contributing to social change for women and girls. Particularly for corporations, the AWID article raises the brutal reality that these gender equality commitments are more an exercise in ticking boxes than a plan to foster real change.

What We’re Focusing On

As we go through this R&D period at Philanthropy Women, we are also paying attention to, working with, and learning from women who are doing the hard work of running for and holding elected office, making breakthrough documentaries, and carrying out global strategies for gender equality.

Political Focus: Here in Rhode Island, we have a front-row seat to watch some of the most exciting women candidates out there doing powerful social activism, such as advocating for the homeless by staging a 16-day sleep-out on the State House lawn.

We are also getting more connected with the national political scene by reading Letters from an American, the blog of Heather Cox Richardson on Substack. You might want to do the same. She is informative, skeptical, and real in her approach to politics, and is writing about key issues related to voter rights at this critical point in our country’s history.

Filmmaking Focus: We are big believers in communities doing their own work to figure out how sexual abuse of children happens and stop it at its roots. That’s why I am (personally, not through Philanthropy Women) supporting the final edit and release of an important new documentary raising awareness on sexual abuse prevention. It’s called Magic & Monsters, and it’s being produced and directed by Norah Shapiro, the filmmaker who brought us Time for Ihlan in 2018, a documentary telling the story of Ihlan Omar’s rise to elected office. Please consider making a donation to support the completion and release of this film.

Global Focus: Women and girls are demanding more rights all over the world, and one organization catalyzing this transformative work is Creative Action Institute. Recognizing that the struggle for gender equality is a global struggle, we are inspired by the ongoing dedication of this organization.

We hope to be able to provide at least weekly updates and news posts soon. In the meantime, we will continue to update the Gender Equality Funder Database, to make it as useful as possible for those seeking grants for gender equality work.


Big Doings in Feminist Philanthropy For Women’s History Month

PW Funder Database Entrance: Gender Equality Funders List

Gender Lens Investing Explodes in 2017

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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