Women’s History Month was definitely one for the books, especially with Jack Dorsey’s #StartSmall initiative dispersing $3 million in grants at the end of the month. This newest funding was allocated to four grassroots organizations focused on breaking down educational barriers for women in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Texas Women’s Foundation’s long-held tradition of honoring leaders in women’s philanthropy continues. Their virtual Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration will be held on April 29th. Amongst the recognitions, the Maura Women Helping Women Award and the Young Leader Award are highlighted.
As the Maura Award enters its 42nd year, the five recipients are those who have adapted their own leadership roles to further the progression of women and girls in various innovative ways. With over 200 past Maura Award recipients, these women are now part of a bold and fearless group who have taken it upon themselves to make life better for women and girls in Texas, and around the world. The Young Leader Award spotlights two women who have broken glass ceilings in their own fields and industries, demonstrating the way forward towards a more gender-balanced society.
Texas Women’s Foundation, a philanthropic leader advocating for women’s progress and stability in the southern state, has dispersed nearly $2 million in grants from their Resilience Fund since the onset of COVID-19. The disastrous aftermath of the winter storms in February left the most vulnerable of the Texan population, low-income women and their families, in dire need of assistance. The Resilience Fund didn’t hesitate.
The Resilience Fund is one of many established by the Texas Women’s Foundation, which uses evidence-based approaches to tackle the inequities that women, and specifically women of color, face in their state. The fund’s grants are a consistent and needs-based answer to the devastation these winter storms brought with them, including dozens of unnecessary deaths and nearly $20 billion in damages.
A new research paper exploring how COVID-19 gender policy changes have helped female scientists and improved research quality was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research shines a pandemic-inspired light on how self-identified females are specifically impacted by COVID. Their job roles as scientists are being redefined and their increased caregiving roles are taking priority.
The results of the study, although unsurprising in terms of perpetual gender inequities, are unique to today’s world. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) initiated their “COVID-19 funding competition” in February of 2020, and found fewer females applied. Those that did apply, were also less likely to be approved.
On January 27th, a group of motivated and influential women gathered together for a virtual panel discussion surrounding the launch of the Rhode Island Women’s Well-Being Index, a data-driven, collaborative effort led by the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. The index is the first of its kind in Rhode Island aimed at truly capturing the unique data necessary to further understand women’s well-being on a multi-faceted level. Intending to dive deeper into women-specific issues, the Index covers five distinct areas: Health, Personal Safety, Employment & Earnings, Economic Security, and Political Empowerment.
The index takes a closer look at each city and town in Rhode Island to allow for some shockingly stark contrasts. National averages are presented as a backdrop for these RI-specific numbers. Some are encouraging and many are not. Policy recommendations are also laid out within each data set, detailing a strategy for reducing these inequities.
On January 27th, Merck for Mothers, Merck & Co.’s $500 million global initiative with the sole purpose to “create a world where no woman has to die while giving life,” announced this year’s cohort of grant designations. These grants total an impressive $9 million allocated to their Safer Childbirth Cities program, the community-action coalition fighting the rising rates of preventable maternal death in the US.
After requesting a second round of grant proposals in June of 2020, Merck for Mothers narrowed down the proposals depending on their eligibility and proposed initiatives for addressing the maternal health disparities within their cities. The chosen communities will be provided with up to $1 million in funding to apply their own evidence-based interventions. On top of the 10 cities from the first cohort of grants released to Safer Childbirth Cities in 2019, cities included in the newly accepted grant proposals are Brooklyn, NY; Detroit, MI; Norfolk, VA; San Francisco, CA; St. Louis, MO; Tampa, FL; Tulsa, OK; Trenton, NJ; and Washington D.C.
Women-led governmental progress toward ending period poverty is happening, finally. Yet, the US federal legislation still lags so far behind these human rights efforts, regardless of the valiant progress by countless charities, non-profits, and individuals.
On November 24, 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free by law. The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill was brought forth by Monica Lennon, a fierce advocate for ending health disparities in her home country, and was unanimously approved. To summarize, the bill ensures anyone who needs menstruation products can get them for no cost, all educational institutions must have free period products in their restroom facilities, and, to top it off, the Scottish government now holds the power to enforce other public institutions to follow suit.