Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.
There was a big shift in how health care functions for women yesterday. An estimated 70,000 to 126,000 women will be prevented from accessing contraception due to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the right of employers to refuse to provide birth control coverage for women.
Women leaders across the country decried the decision for its devastating impact on women, including women leaders in philanthropy. Elizabeth Barajas-Román, President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, called attention to how this decision is particularly detrimental to women and girls of color.
Editor’s Note: The following essay is by Stephanie Fine Sasse, founder of The Plenary, Co., a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to making social and environmental issues more accessible through science, art, and play.
A few years ago, I sat across from twelve dynamic, accomplished, and inspiring women. They were artists, dancers, singers, musicians, gamers, athletes, activists, and moms.
And of course, they were scientists.
I watched their eyes light up as they spoke about the curiosities and purpose behind their work. And I watched their eyes narrow as they reflected on the challenges that they faced. Many of them spoke about the important roles of failure, creativity, and collaboration in the sciences; concepts that are too often missing from the job description. And others shared their favorite parts of their work: discovery, travel, teamwork, writing, or mentoring students.
Here’s another way inequality has negatively impacted women’s health: incorrect drug dosages. Since most drug trials exclude women, based on false and outdated beliefs, drug dosages are set to work for men, not women. As a result, women take higher than needed doses of many medication, and suffer more adverse side effects.
Donors who are working at the intersection of gender equality and women’s health should take heed of new research published in Biology of Sex Differences that found that “The common practice of prescribing equal drug doses to women and men neglects sex differences in pharmacokinetics and dimorphisms in body weight, risks overmedication of women, and contributes to female-biased adverse drug reactions.”
In the world of feminist giving, we have to celebrate the wins, both the small ones and the big ones. One of those big wins is happening right now, as Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Bezos team up to distribute $30 million through the Equality Can’t Wait Fund.
Really, it’s hard to imagine a more positive development for the feminist giving sphere than Melinda Gates’s incorporation of MacKenzie Bezos right into the frontlines of feminist philanthropy. Yet this is also a searing indictment of how far inequality has advanced in our nation, that the coming together of two megabillionaires could have so much influence.
With so much disparity in the way that COVID impacts different communities and demographics, it is good to see many stories in the news about diverse women coming together to bring resources to those in need. In recent weeks, new funding efforts led by women of color have launched in several states across the country including Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Georgia. In addition, new national efforts have launched to help Black women entrepreneurs, and to understand and address the intersectionality of environment, race, and gender.
New Funds Seek to Address Racism, Sexism
Among these new initiatives is a new fund hosted by She Can Win, an organization started in 2013 in Philadelphia to support black women entrepreneurs. She Can Win recently pooled membership dues to create a new foundation and made four initial grants to organizations on the frontlines of reproductive justice, supporting young mothers, and helping survivors heal from injustice.
Editor’s Note: The following article is by Adam Moeser, Matilda R. Wilson Endowed Chair, Associate Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University. We are republishing this article to call attention to the opportunity for funders to support research on sex differences in immunity, an area of research that has been impacted by a history of male bias.
When it comes to surviving critical cases of COVID-19, it appears that men draw the short straw.
Initial reports from China revealed the early evidence of increased male mortality associated with COVID. According to the Global Health 50/50 research initiative, nearly every country is now reporting significantly higher COVID-19-related mortality rates in males than in females as of June 4. Yet, current data suggest similar infection rates for men and women. In other words, while men and women are being infected with COVID-19 at similar rates, a significantly higher proportion of men succumb to the disease than women, across groups of similar age. Why is it then that more men are dying from COVID-19? Or rather, should we be asking why are more women surviving?
Sheridan Road, a “luxury and lifestyle” magazine out of Chicago that focuses on North Shore activities, did a recent feature of Elizabeth “Liza” Yntema, whose work in dance equity we have covered here at Philanthropy Women. Liza has also participated in our Feminist Giving In Real Life (F-GIRL) series.
The wonderful thing about this interview, written by Allison Duncan, is how effortlessly it moves through different layers of experience as we come to understand the subject’s world view. The article starts with a foray into Liza’s family history of accused Salem witches, early women scientists, and Depression-era bankers with integrity. From the article:
One of the many exciting things happening for Philanthropy Women’s community is Allison Fine’s bid for New York’s 17th Congressional District. Allison is a contributor here at Philanthropy Women and she brings immense potential for real progressive leadership to our government in the U.S., leadership we need now more than ever.
But don’t take it from me. Head on over to TheNew Yorker where Eric Lach interviews Allison in-depth and provides a fascinating portrait of how her leadership has been both fierce and nimble in the age of COVID.
With so much bad news right now, it’s hard to bring up another tough topic, but bring it up we will. As a therapist, I know that having the hard conversations is part of the process of moving forward. This tough topic is the news that the NoVo Foundation will be scaling back some of its operations, particularly those that pertain to funding women and girls. As discussed in last week’s post, As NoVo Downsizes, What Next for Women and Girls?, the question of how we will fill the enormous void left by this shift is just beginning to take hold in people’s minds and produce some responses.
Women Leaders Step Up to Respond to NoVo’s Shift
Two important leaders in women’s funding, Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRES and Mona Sinha, Board Chair of Women Moving Millions, responded to the news of NoVo’s shift in focus with letters to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
A bombshell was dropped today on feminist funding: Marc Gunther reports on the Chronicle of Philanthropy that NoVo Foundation has laid off half its staff, backed out of the Women’s Building project, and is otherwise downsizing its operations in the gender equality funding arena. “It’s about time other people ponied up,” said Peter Buffett in the Chronicle interview.
Yes, it is about time for others to pony up. If only there were tons of donors standing in line to pony up for women and girls. As it turns out, that’s not quite the case. And certainly no one knows that better than Peter Buffett.
The fact is, most male donors don’t share Peter Buffett’s former sense of enlightenment about the need to fund with a gender lens — not even close. So for one of the few men who truly gets it to be walking away from the table at this particular moment in history, all I can say is, wow. Just wow. Some leaders have a tendency to overpromise and underdeliver. Apparently, Peter Buffett is one of them.