Tim Lehnert is a writer and editor who lives in Cranston, Rhode Island. His articles and essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Providence Journal, Rhode Island Monthly, the Boston Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. He is the author of the book Rhode Island 101, and has published short fiction for kids and adults in a number of literary journals and magazines. He received an M.A. in Political Science from McGill University, and an M.A. in English from California State University, Northridge.
COVID-19 is imperiling the safety and education of many Latin American and Caribbean girls, reports Plan International, an independent development and humanitarian organization advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. With the closure of schools, many girls have been trapped at home and subject to increasing gender-based violence. Moreover, for some, their education may be derailed permanently with lasting generational effects.
Ninety-five percent of girls have been out of school since mid-March, and this has made them highly vulnerable. Amalia Alarcón, Plan’s Regional Head of Gender Transforming and Influencing, explains how the pandemic has a clear gender component. “The control measures for the disease do not take into account the specific vulnerabilities of girls, adolescents and women as the risk of suffering gender-based violence at home, increases. According to Plan International, “There has been a significant rise in reports of physical, sexual and psychological abuse directed towards girls and adolescents, with many more cases likely going under the radar.”
Americans often think of high childbirth mortality rates as a problem plaguing low-income countries, but U.S. maternal mortality rates, particularly for African American and Native women, are high. Merck for Mothers’ “Safer Childbirth Cities” initiative is combating this trend, and its latest call for proposals is expanding its efforts beyond its initial ten-city cohort.
While the U.S. maternal mortality rate is substantially lower than most countries of the Global South, according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. maternal death rate of 19 deaths per 100,000 live births it is substantially higher than Canada (10 per 100,000), the United Kingdom (7), Japan (5), Spain (4) and Italy (2). Countries comparable to the U.S. include Russia (17), Turkey (17) and Romania (19). Moreover, the U.S. is the only high-income country with a rising level of maternal mortality.
One of Many, a short film about the 2017 Women’s March, and an official selection of the upcoming 2020 International New York Film Festival, is seeking digital distribution. As the Trump era lurches to a close, and new rounds of protests occupy the streets, One of Many documents the women’s marches that occurred nationwide three-and-a-half years ago in opposition to Trump, and more broadly, to sexism, patriarchy, and racism.
“The film captures the widespread, collective outrage that President Trump’s inauguration provoked while contextualizing it within historical human rights movements,” notes One of Many Executive Producer Jessica Good. The sixteen-minute documentary is directed by M.J. Bernier and debuted last fall at Atlanta’s Out on Film festival, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ+ film festivals.
The Ms. Foundation for Women, through its recently formed Activist Collaboration Fund, is granting $275,000 to 15 organizations across the country that are led by and for women and girls of color, trans women and girls of color, and indigenous women and girls.
The Activist Collaboration Fund (ACF) launched in late January and focuses on social justice and movement-building, including fostering cooperation among organizations. The ACF received over 160 nominations from organizations by and for women and girls of color from 35 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
What the world needs now more than ever is more funders who understand and address the deep intersectionalities of human experience. Recently, a new funder launched to do just that. The Hive Fund is dedicated to supporting climate, gender and racial justice, with a focus on the U.S. Southeast. Launched in 2019, it recently released its Spring 2020 grant recipients.
Hive supports Black, Indigenous, and women of color leaders who traditionally have had limited access to philanthropic and other resources. The fund’s mandate is to fund “visionary and strategic efforts of leaders and organizations working at the intersections of climate justice, gender equity, democracy, cultural power and economic justice.” Moreover, Hive aims to embed participatory decision-making in it grant-making process.
Yolanda F. Johnson is rolling out Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC) to support her colleagues in the field. Johnson is a multi-faceted juggernaut whose life’s work encompasses the performing arts, teaching, and non-profit management, with an accent on women, and women of color, in philanthropy and the arts.
Johnson is the first African-American to serve as President of Women in Development, a 40-year-old organization devoted to empowering and supporting New York-area women in the development field. She has an M.A. in arts management, and is a lyric soprano and music composer, teacher, and director. Johnson has performed nationally and internationally in operas, solo concerts, oratorios and sacred music, and is a recitalist and lecturer with a particular interest in spirituals related to the Underground Railroad. She is co-creator of Music She Wrote, a concert celebration of women composers.
By any measure, giving circles are one of the biggest growth areas in philanthropy. It’s no accident that giving circles are heavily female, and women of color are involved in giving circles at much higher rates than they are in traditional modes of philanthropic giving.
A simple giving circle definition from Philanthropy Together: “Giving Circles are groups of all shapes and sizes collaborating for change: like-minded individuals come together to pool their funds, share and discuss the issues that matter to them, and decide together where to give their money, time, and talents.” Giving circles enable individuals to leverage modest individual donations into a critical mass. They are by definition participatory, and the power of the collective provides individuals greater input and influence than were they giving in isolation.
Philanthropy Together places special emphasis on the role of traditionally underrepresented communities, noting:
The Love Is Healing COVID-19 Response Fund is providing one million dollars in grants to resource organizations and efforts addressing the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on girls, fem(mes), and nonbinary/gender expansive youth of color. The grant-making initiative represents Grantmakers for Girls of Color’s first grantmaking effort as an independent entity.
Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., newly appointed executive director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4CC), notes, “In this moment and beyond, philanthropy must address the lack of diversity, quality, and responsiveness of capital directed to support girls of color at the intersection of their complex identities and experiences.” Morris adds, “Even before this pandemic, girls and gender expansive youth of color have faced interlocking forms of oppression that prevent their full participation in our country’s future.”
The COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign is a Boris L. Henson Foundation (BLHF) effort to raise money for mental health services for communities of color.
According to the BLHF, “the campaign was developed to cover the cost for virtual or tele-therapy services by licensed, culturally competent clinicians in our network.” Up to five sessions are covered, and those seeking COVID-related virtual therapy can register with BLHF. The Foundation is seeking donations to support the program (Text NOSTIGMA to 707070), as well culturally competent providers to provide services.
The BLHF was founded in 2018 by actor and mental health advocate Taraji P. Henson and is led by Executive Director Tracie Jade Jenkins. It has seen strong interest in the tele-therapy program since it debuted on April 15. In a Today Show interview, Henson, who most recently has appeared on the television series Empire, said, “We had to shut the server down … that’s how big the need is.” She argues that for many, the hardships imposed by COVID-19 are “added trauma,” and that mental health services are helping “thousands stay alive.”
Coverage of COVID-19 first focused on Asia, then Europe, and now increasingly North America. The virus, however, is global, and while there have been relatively few cases reported in Africa, the numbers are increasing, as is awareness about how to combat COVID-19.
As is the case everywhere, education and preparedness are essential in blunting the effects of the novel Coronavirus. The Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP), an Oak Park, Illinois-headquartered non-profit, has been helping educate girls in Africa since 2004. It has worked with grassroots leaders in Kenya and Senegal to co-design programs that have impacted thousands of girls and women in poor communities with low levels of school enrollment and literacy. With the new challenge of COVID-19 afoot, Harriet Spears, WGEP Strategic Partnerships and Communications Manager, has shared stories with PW about how WGEP teams in Kenya and Senegal are working with local communities on reducing virus transmission.