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.
When I was a girl, I used to watch characters like Murphy Brown and Angela Bower from “Who’s The Boss?” on television. I remember seeing these incredible women workplace role models and how tough and tenacious they were. They got the job done, often in fields primarily dominated by men.
But while they made for great businesswomen role models, I did not have those same role models in fields related to science, technology, engineering or math. I was fortunate to have a father who encouraged me to do anything I dreamed of, but many young girls today don’t have the same privilege. Even as television yielded to the internet, giving us new ways to connect, girls still struggle to find support and understand the value they bring to the world, especially in STEM.
“We’re gonna get it done.” These were some of the first words spoken by Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris in her phenomenal half-hour interview with Errin Haines, Editor-at-Large for the 19th, during the 19th Represents Summit on Friday. Harris’s plans to “get it done” refer to the upcoming Presidential election, and her goal to join Joe Biden in leading the U.S. out of one of its worst crisis periods in history.
Haines began the interview by asking what it was like for Kamala Harris to be in competition with women she respected and worked with, other candidates who were running for President and were in the lead to be asked to fill Biden’s ticket for the Vice President spot.
As a writer and publisher, I was excited to recently rediscover my passionate interest in creating and supporting visual art. The pandemic has had many terrible impacts on our lives, but one positive impact it had for me was getting me more engaged in my own love for art. During the extended times many of us have been spending socially distancing, I began to paint, first doing portraits of African Americans, and then moving on to still life paintings and impressionistic landscapes.
In an effort to support women and LGBT+ artists, we launched our first art contest recently. The theme for the contest was “About Women” and we received more than 100 entries of some stunning and moving visual art pieces. There were 185 votes on the entries, and the winners were chosen by public vote, so popularity was more of a factor, as opposed to a contest that is judged by a jury of artists.
The anti-trafficking movement is one of the most important movements for women’s equality, since a large proportion of survivors of trafficking are women. But often, the voices of the actual survivors of trafficking get excluded from approaches to solving this problem.
Recently, the Freedom Fund hosted a webinar to discuss ways that funders can work to include survivors in leadership. Amy Rahe, interim director of the Freedom Fund, moderated the discussion. Guest speakers included Mahendra Pandey, Senior Manager, Forced Labor & Human Trafficking for Humanity United, Natasha Dolby, Co-Founder, Freedom Forward, and Claire Falconer, Head of Global Initiatives and Movement Building, The Freedom Fund.
Thank you to all the readers and new subscribers who are joining us daily. It’s really great to feel the Philanthropy Women community growing. As editor, I want to alert readers to the resource of our Gender Equality Funder Knowledgebase. This is the place where you can find funders for gender equality across categories of corporate, private, and family foundations.
We aim to list all funders for gender equality in both the U.S. and globally and have been steadily building this database out for over a year. We now have over 500 listings and are currently adding about 8 new entries to the database every week, so we hope these additions are helping feminist nonprofits find more resources for their work.
Since I launched Philanthropy Women in 2017, and even before then, I have been paying close attention to the trends, as well as the big plays and strategy shifts, happening in feminist giving. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to enumerate some of those gender equality giving trends and other happenings, and flesh out what they mean both now and for the future of philanthropy.
1. Women Funders Are Getting More Ambitious With Their Strategies
I see women funders getting more ambitious with their strategies in many different ways, both in terms of the subjects they will fund as well as the approaches they are willing to try. This means they are doing bolder things with their money, which often translates into helping our culture to become more inclusive and knowledgeable about difference. For example, Mona Sinha, Chair of the Women Moving Millions Board, has done some amazing work lately supporting the documentary Disclosure. This film does groundbreaking work in terms of exploring the growing world of gender transition, helping this community to be seen and valued by society. Being unafraid to cross the barrier and fund the LGBTQ community is just one of the many bold strategies that more feminist funders are adopting more frequently.
Editor’s Note: The following essay is by By Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland, Founder of Black Philanthropy Month and The Women Invested to Save Earth™ (WISE) Fund.
This year has unfolded like the chapters of a dystopian Octavia Butler novel. A third of US Covid deaths are Black. Black unemployment rates are at more than 20 percent. More than 40 percent of Black small businesses have closed. The George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor lynchings, broadcast across traditional and social media, made it clear that virulent, violent, anti-Black racism is alive and well.
These are confusing, life-changing times. Black joy, struggle, rage and giving converge in our story, creating history and shaping our future this Black Philanthropy Month (BPM). Stories give form to chaos, helping us see hidden lessons and new visions to become the change we want to see. For this unprecedented historical moment of BPM, the story begins and ends in Minneapolis, a new center of the global racial justice movement.
“Architects of a better world” is how Melinda Gates frames the role of women in the age of COVID. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, the co-founder of the world’s largest philanthropic organization makes the case that women’s leadership is the beacon of light the world needs most right now.
Gates starts off the essay by recognizing the silent pandemic of violence against women happening during COVID. She goes on to detail in full the many ways that women are losing access to health care and jobs, all while being piled with more housework and childcare duties.
Maternity Care Needs to Develop Workarounds for COVID
Gates is particularly worried about expectant moms in COVID, and with good reason. She relates some of the staggering losses suffered in the Ebola outbreak of 2014 in Sierra Leone. One suggestion that Gates makes for COVID: separate facilities for COVID and non-COVID pregnant women in some countries so that women can still get maternal care, even if they are COVID positive.
Editor’s Note: The following piece is by Ariana Carella, network engagement director at Rachel’s Network. She manages the organization’s collective funding program, including the Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award.
Women and girls are at the forefront of social movements, galvanizing communities to respond to climate change, adopting socially responsible practices in philanthropy, and fighting for pro-environment legislation. Rachel’s Network was founded in 2000 with a mission to promote these impassioned women fighting for our planet. Throughout the year, we connect with women leaders and experts on issues relating to environmental protection, philanthropy, and advocacy, and our Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award provides $10,000 and recognition to mid-career women environmental leaders of color.
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.