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.
It’s finally happening: America is charting its course as a nation to remedy our problems with gender equity and equality. What is contained in the momentous document, and how will it affect funding for gender issues?
The President and Vice President begin the document by locating the issue in our current context of heightened stakes for women and girls in the US and across the globe:
This document, the first-ever United States government strategy on gender equity and equality, is a part of that noble American tradition [of valuing equality]. It comes at an inflection point for the economic security, safety, health, and well-being of women and girls in our nation and around the globe. COVID-19 has exacerbated preexisting economic, health, and caregiving crises that disproportionately impacted women and girls long before the pandemic struck. Following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, women’s participation in the American labor force plummeted to its lowest level in over 30 years. Rates of gender-based violence have risen significantly, and racial and ethnic inequity has deepened.
Editor’s Note: The following essay by Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director, WomenStrong International, discusses the transformational potential of #MeToo to empower change locally and globally.
In their remarkable new book Awakeningabout the global #MeToo movement, feminist scholars Rachel Vogelstein and Meighan Stone have shined a light on the courage, creativity, and resilience of women all over the world who have alchemized their pain as survivors of sexual violence into fierce, undaunted activism.
These brave women, from Brazil to Tunisia to Nigeria to Sweden and myriad places in between, have harnessed available digital technologies to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, connect with other women, sound the alarm loudly, and press for change. They’re fighting not only for victims’ safety in reporting these crimes and accountability for their perpetrators; enraged and emboldened, they’re aiming to institutionalize legal protections and disrupt the prevailing cultural and religious moraes that have long sanctioned violence against women in the first place.
Editor’s Note: The following commentary on domestic violence is by Debbie I. Chang, MPH, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation.
Throughout a career advocating for the health and well-being of children and families, I thought I knew a lot about domestic violence and its impact. I knew that trauma, including exposure to domestic violence in childhood, has a deep and lasting effect on health. Like many people, I thought what happened in people’s homes was a private matter. In fact, some would narrowly say, “It’s not my business.”
Now I know domestic violence is all of our business. It is truly a public matter. And it is preventable.
Texas Women’s Foundation, a powerhouse for women and girls in Texas, raised more than $1 million at their 36th Annual Luncheon
Across Texas, groups convened to watch in livestream mini-parties, including 96 students and teachers from Brookhaven College, as the Texas Women’s Foundation held its Annual Luncheon online. Presented by the Dallas Mavericks, the event raised more than $1 million and had a total audience of over 4,000.
The event, entitled My Voice. My Story. Every Woman’s Power to Build Compassion and Community, brought together leaders across society to talk about the value of increasing the wellbeing of women and girls in Texas and beyond.
As our young women come up in the world, they face a deluge of information online, much of which is contributing to their sense of safety, or lack thereof. A new report from Plan International helps to break down the ways that online disinformation is impacting the lives of girls ages 15 to 24 around the world.
The report, The Truth Gap, helps to explain how girls and young women in 33 countries are experiencing information they find online. The report discovered that one in five girls (20%) feels unsafe due to false information that comes from the internet.
“The ugly truth is that more people are still motivated by the desire to prioritize men’s income-generating and reputations than they are by the desire to ensure women’s rights and safety.” — Soraya Chemaly, Rage Becomes Her
Prioritizing women’s rights and safety in today’s world is not easy, and it won’t become any easier as long as our culture puts men’s earnings and men’s reputations first, which it almost always does. Think of any number of powerful men whose reputations and money-generating capacities completely undermined women’s rights and safety: Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein….and the list goes on and on. It’s a list that defines our culture, a culture of men and money first, and women and safety last, in our public and private lives, in government, business, and the non-profit sector.
As we have noted before here on Philanthropy Women, there are many reasons why it is very hard to sustain a nonprofit or a business that provides a gender lens. There are also frequently economies of scale that can be realized when two entities with overlapping missions join together to enhance their work. A recent announcement from Gender Avenger and The Female Quotient highlights both of these dynamics.
Yesterday, Gender Avenger and The Female Quotient announced that they will be merging. Gender Avenger, a nonprofit that provides data and tools about gender discrimination in public dialogue, announced today that it is joining forces with The Female Quotient (The FQ), a for-profit company “changing the equation and closing the gaps” in gender equality. According to the press release, the collaboration “aims to remove barriers and break down the intimidating scale of the equality conversation happening all around the world.”
Editor’s Note: The following essay is by By Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director, WomenStrong International.
As someone who has funded and worked with women’s organizations to advance gender justice, human rights, and global development, I learned long ago that women always know what they and their families and communities need, in order to thrive; they simply lack the financial and technical resources needed to put their solutions into practice.
That’s why I celebrate the recent high-profile donor efforts to invest in women’s priorities. Yet, even with these bold commitments, the total philanthropic support for women’s organizations remains a paltry fraction – 1.6 percent — of U.S. grantmaking, according to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s latest Women and Girls Index, published by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. If we hope to improve the lives of and opportunities for women and girls worldwide, those percentages must rise dramatically.
Readers of Philanthropy Women know that we closely follow the feminist giving strategies on getting more women into politics. Now, an exciting announcement comes from our home state of Rhode Island, as State Senator Cynthia Mendes and Former Secretary of State Matt Brown have announced their joint campaign for Lt. Governor and Governor of Rhode Island.
Not only are these two uniquely qualified candidates running together, they have cultivated 50 more progressive candidates running for a large swath of positions in Rhode Island. Together, this could make for a new paradigm of leadership in the state.
Philanthropy Women May be Winding Down Due to Lack of Supportfor Feminist Media about Donor Leadership, Strategies and Practices.
With nearly 1,100 posts published, an unusually high and rising domain authority, and hundreds of feminist leaders and strategies highlighted, Philanthropy Women is simultaneously a feminist media powerhouse and running out of resources. And it’s not for lack of trying to find those resources, or generate them on our own.
What happened to us? It’s a case of what I can only describe as donor love-bombing and subsequent abandonment.
I’m sure this happens to most nonprofit organizations, but I think it might be particularly acute in the social justice realm. Because we go for so long in life having the experience that no one cares about social justice or, in my case, feminist social justice, and then suddenly all of these people DO care. And not only do they care, but they are willing to write you $5,000 checks to do this work.