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.
Dear Readers, Welcome to our COVID-19 Special Edition. Here, we bring together perspectives and insights from some of the most erudite women leaders in philanthropy. We know that women’s voices matter, particularly in these unprecedented times, and these voices are often missing from traditional philanthropy and news sites. That is how Philanthropy Women sets itself apart. We exist to serve the giving sector with a gender lens.
One small piece of good news about the COVID crisis is that there seems to be more awareness than ever about its gendered impacts. This piece in the New York Times, for example, discusses how women make up the majority of health care workers, and how, on top of that, they are more likely to take on the caregiving of sick people in their own families, and the care of children.
There are lots of things we can do to mitigate these impacts, but it will take conscious effort to resist the pull toward harmful gender norms. More than ever, we need to defend women’s rightful place in leadership and decision-making to end the COVID crisis. Think about it: if we had more women’s leadership at the table right now, say, for example, if Hillary Clinton had become President, we might be taking a much different approach to addressing this crisis, one that recognizes the validity of science and the need for preventative measures in health care.
As we head into the deepening crisis of COVID-19, now is the time for women funders and their allies to gather and strategize. This Thursday, April 2nd at 8amPT/11am ET. Please RSVP hereand they will send you a link to join the webinar. Below is the invitation in full from Ammarah Maqsood, Development Officer for Global Fund for Women:
As most of us are watching the news and learning about the impact of COVID-19 here in the states, at Global Fund for Women, we are hearing from the women around the world about their creative solutions and pressing needs caused by the pandemic crisis.
Where water isn’t readily available in homes, women have created inventive hand washing stations. In refugee camps in the Middle East, women are finding inventive ways to use WhatsApp and keep young kids learning.
Last evening, Kimberlé Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum hosted a Zoom session called Under the Blacklight: The Intersectional Vulnerabilities that COVID Lays Bare. It featured an array of progressive leaders including Eve Ensler, Laura Flanders, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Ai-jen Poo, Dorothy Roberts and Alvin Starks.
There were many great points discussed in the meeting, but as a health care provider, I want to bring one point right to the surface. Eve Ensler, when discussing her work supporting nurses in the COVID crisis, said that many nurses are reporting that they are being told that they need to show up for work even though they have COVID symptoms such as cough, congestion, and exhaustion, or the beginnings of symptoms which can sometimes look like nausea and vomiting, sleeplessness, and “just not feeling right.”
Editor’s Note: This edition of our Feminist Giving IRL (in real life) series features Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, Clinician Scientist and Physician-in-Chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health hospital and a global research leader. She is the clinical lead of CAMH womenmind, a new effort from CAMH to close the gender gap in mental health. She is also a Professor and Vice Chair Clinical and Innovation in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
At Philanthropy Women, we will be working extra hard to be a resource for the feminist giving community on best practices to get us through the COVID crisis. We will work to generate ideas and share news that will help us make system-wide changes that will address this crisis and prevent future crises of this proportion in the future.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working on a mail-in test for COVID-19 that could be available in the next two weeks. When I learned this from a news summary here, my first thought was: why would this mail-in test be restricted by zip code? Why provide this, the safest way to test (without having to go into a health care environment and risk infection) to only a select few? Why not provide it to everyone?
Well folks, we’re off the charts, quite literally. Vulnerable people are dying at an alarming rate. Markets are dropping and jumping and dropping again as more people test positive for COVID-19. Health care workers are risking their lives by going to work, and many of us are spending more time social distancing than humanity may have ever tried before. It’s all quite surreal.
Some leaders in philanthropy are responding to the health crisis with concern and plans to help.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a Donor Funding for COVID-19 Response list, and there you can find organizations funding the research and the medical response to the unprecedented outbreak. Most of the funding listed here is going to China, and all of this funding is brand new, starting in January 2020.
We are now heading into our fourth year since our founding in January of 2017 here at Philanthropy Women. Starting and running PW has been a fascinating experience, and in an effort at radical business transparency, I’d like to fill you in on a little of the behind-the-scenes story of why we do what we do, and where we’re going.
Why Do We Do What We Do
Philanthropy Women was born out of my realization that very few people knew about the funders who have made gender equality a growing possibility in our world. Some 93% of these funders are women, and true to gender norms as women, they failed to promote their world-changing work.
This was a loss to society that I wanted to reconcile by showing what feminist givers looks like in real life. I also wanted to expand the definition of feminist giving to encompass a wide array of leaders at every level of society — from direct care workers to CEOs — who are giving their time, energy, and resources for the express purpose of seeing the world become more gender equal.