Deepening Support for Feminist Activism through Women’s Funds 

Editor’s Note: The following Opinion piece is by Chiara de Luca and Bethan Cansfield, two women’s rights researchers based in London, UK.

As authoritarianism and inequality spread worldwide, and surveillance technology advances, feminist movements face increasing hurdles in their quest for social justice. Cyberattacks, repression of dissent and harassment against women and LGBTI human rights defenders worsened during the past two years in almost all regions of the world.

Chiara de Luca, Feminist researcher. (Image credit: Chiara de Luca)

Women’s funds have been at the forefront of standing in solidarity with feminist activists during the pandemic. The importance of funding feminist movements’ efforts to defend land rights, promote reproductive and sexual health, enhance political participation, and prevent violence against women is now widely recognized. In Argentina, Benin and Mexico, feminist activism brought changes in abortion laws. In North Macedonia, Moldova, Tunisia, and Turkey, feminist groups successfully campaigned for laws to end violence against women and girls. A recent ODI briefing found feminist movements contribute significantly to gender norm changes. 

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Feminist Giving News in a Post-Roe World

Along with all of the other forms of oppression that a world without access to abortion brings, a particularly stark example of the violence that women face in the patriarchy occurred here in Rhode Island recently. Jennifer Rourke, who is part of the Rhode Island Cooperative, an alliance of progressive democratic candidates running for state office, was punched repeatedly by her opponent in the Senate race, Jeann Lugo.

Jennifer Rourke, candidate for Rhode Island State Senate. (Image credit: Jennifer Rourke)

Jennifer Rourke was speaking at a rally to protest the end of Roe V. Wade in Providence. After speaking, she was standing in the audience with friends. According to Matt Brown, candidate for Governor in Rhode Island and co-founder of the Rhode Island Co-op, three right-wing counter-protesters showed up. Jennifer, as one of the leaders there, approached the situation to try to de-escalate and defuse any possible conflict or disruption to the event. But moments later, Lugo, who is a Providence police officer and was off-duty, punched her in the face. The incident was caught on video by Bill Bartholomew.

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Feminist Giving In the News: Top 10 Women’s Funding Countdown

This batch of feminist funding news spans from state-based government funding for childcare workers (brilliant stuff!) to ten new additions we have made to the funders listed in our Gender Equality Funder Database. Enjoy!

Lauren Y. Casteel, President and CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. (Image credit: WFC)

1: Women’s Foundation of Colorado Makes Goal of 100% Gender Lens Investable Assets

“As the only community foundation in the state focused on gender, racial, and economic equity, it was time to unapologetically integrate all assets of our operation and programs around our goals to ensure the success of our strategic framework,” said Lauren Y. Casteel, president and CEO of The Women’s Foundation. “We are proud to align our money with our mission, and to use all of our available resources to maximize donor impact.”

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Jamie Allen Black: The Loneliness of the Trust-Based Funder

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece is from Jamie Allen Black, CEO of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, in response to a recent opinion piece from Jeannie Infante Sager.

As Jeannie Infante Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, points out in her recent Philanthropy Women article, MacKenzie Scott, the world’s most famous female philanthropist, has embraced “trust-based” philanthropy. 

Jamie Allen Black, CEO of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, raises important questions about relationship issues related to trust-based philanthropy. (Image credit: Jamie Allen Black)

Yet the conversation about Scott leaves one fascinating thing unsaid: She’s female and a philanthropist, but she doesn’t give like a female philanthropist.

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How Can Funders Accelerate Gender Equality? Pamela Shifman Responds

I recently took the time to read Lighting the Way, a new report from Shake the Table and The Bridgespan Group. These two entities came together to enhance our understanding of the connections between feminist movements and global philanthropy, and to provide some strategic guidelines on how to expand this work.

Lighting the Way, a report from Shake the Table, The Bridgespan Group, and many feminist leaders, details five steps for improving funding for gender equality worldwide. (Image Credit: Lighting the Way)

In order to formulate these guidelines, the group conducted 43 conversations with high-net-worth individuals, institutional funders, and leaders of feminist movements. Here is a quick summary of the five guidelines they created:

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All In: MacKenzie Scott’s Unique Trust and Transparency in Giving

 Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece by Jeannie Infante Sager, Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the implications of recent philanthropic giving from MacKenzie Scott.

mackenzie scott transparency
Jeannie Sager, Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute (Photo Credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute)

MacKenzie Scott’s recent round of donations brings her total giving to more than $12 billion, benefitting 1,257 nonprofit organizations since 2020. With 60% of her gifts supporting women-led organizations, this is a transformational moment for the visibility of women’s roles in philanthropy and is redefining what it means to give.

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Funders: Support New Student Strikes to Reform Gun Laws

It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.

gun violence
Students gather at a student strike to end gun violence in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on June 1, 2022. (Image credit: Carlos Munoz, Boston Globe)

But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.

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If Roe V. Wade Ends, What Should Feminist Funders Do?

What a disturbing time for humanity. It turns out that several of our new Supreme Court justices are outright liars about their commitment to Roe. v. Wade as the law of the land. As a result, we are now facing the end of legal abortion care in the U.S. What should funders of a pro-choice world do?

Doctors and activists gathered at the state Capital in Rhode Island recently to protest the draft new SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Image credit: Womxn Project)

That’s a big question, but it all comes down to increasing funding for women. If we increase funding for women, particularly women’s health care and women in political leadership, we can increase the ability for women to control their own lives. These are two of the most significant areas that need more funding, if we want to solve the problem of access to abortion.

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Why Kendra Scott Gave $13.25 Million for Women Entrepreneurs

“This gift is about supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” said Kendra Scott, philanthropist, designer and professor of practice at University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. Since 2019, when Scott first started an institute for women’s leadership in business at the school, she has enjoyed seeing women expand their horizons. “I’ve loved seeing UT create a space where women are inspired and motivated to be leaders in business and to use their knowledge, skills, and energy to keep changing the world and outdated business stereotypes.”

Kendra Scott, pictured at the women’s leadership center she founded at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center has now been endowed with $13.25 million from Scott, in order to expand education, space, and resources for women in business. (Image credit: Kendra Scott)

Kendra Scott started her company in 2002, just three months after her first son was born. With $500 and a love for dynamic design and good quality materials, she grew a start-up jewelry business into a company with over 2,000 employees (96% women) and expanded the product line to include home décor and beauty. 

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New Funding for Women: This Week’s Top 10 Feminist Giving Moves

The new HS Chau Women in Enterprising Science Program offers fellows the opportunity to receive $1 million in funding for research. (Image credit: HS Chau Women in Enterprising Science Program)

1: New HS Chau Women in Enterprising Science Program Launches from the Innovative Genomics Institute: The new program will work to enhance “gender equity in bio-entrepreneurship.” With philanthropic support from the foundation of Solina Chau Hoi Shuen (co-founder of Horizons Ventures in Hong Kong), the program is now accepting proposals from entrepreneurs “seeking to translate genomics research into impactful solutions to real-world challenges and advance the representation of women founders in biotechnology.” More information here.

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