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.
Plan International USA—an independent development and humanitarian organization advancing children’s rights and equality for girls—has published an incisive report on American adolescents and gender equality.
Plan USA commissioned the research and communications firm PerryUndem to complete the study, which drew on data from roughly 1,000 interviews conducted nationwide with girls and boys ages 10-19. The results provide a snapshot on gender equity as seen by the next generation of Americans, and can be used by funders and non-profits to better define gender issues facing young people, and provide focus for programs to improve gender equity.
Plan’s “The State of Gender Equality for U.S. Adolescents” is part of its “Plan4Girls” initiative, and surveys girls and boys on their attitudes and experience around topics including physical appearance, career aspirations, sexual harassment, gender equity, differing societal expectations based on gender, and media representations of girls. According to Plan USA, “The goal of the research is to provide a resource for policymakers, media, and others who want to understand how children are internalizing inequality and how their views may take shape.” The full 134-page report was released in September 2018; a 14-page Executive Summary is also available.
For a foundation started in 1972 by four white women (Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Marlo Thomas), the Ms. Foundation has been one of the frontrunner funders pushing to increase strategic focus on women and girls of color. Currently, this oldest and first foundation for women is on year one of a five-year strategic plan to invest in women and girls of color, for the purpose of advancing democracy and creating a more gender equal country and world.
Among other goals, the five-year plan allocates $25 million toward organizations led by and for women of color. “Women of color have been on the frontlines of nearly every movement in this country — from reproductive rights, immigrant rights, and civil rights, to economic justice, and criminal justice reform,” notes Teresa C. Younger, Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO.
Four private U.S. Foundations—Foundation for a Just Society, Open Society Foundations, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation —have recently announced that they are joining forces to provide $20 million to women’s funds internationally.
The $20 million investment was designed in consultation with women’s funds, and the five-year initiative will help the funds maximize their impact in promoting gender equity. “The resources of philanthropies have not always reached enough feminist activists, who we know are leading social change and driving gender equity. To solve this problem, we need to democratize philanthropy,” says Joy Chia, program officer with the Women’s Rights Program at Open Society Foundations. “This means putting more resources in the hands of women’s funds, who are well-placed to equip feminist movements, advocates, and innovators in the field with the tools to sustain change.”
“Philanthropy Plugged In – Creating Community in the Digital Age” is the theme of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) 2020 Symposium.
The conference will be held in downtown Chicago on March 31 and April 1, and will focus on the intersection of technology, gender and giving. The two-day event will kick off with presentations and discussions in connection with Women Give 2020, which represents the tenth anniversary of the Women Give research series.
The 2020 Symposium will feature a mix of big-idea conversations and practical sessions. Technology’s role in transforming giving will have a central place, including how women entrepreneurs are leveraging technology to engage donors. Does technology empower more people to give and engage a more diverse donor community? What are the risks and rewards of the digital transformation for philanthropy?
The Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP) is challenging every philanthropist and feminist to “Become a Movement Maker.”
WGEP’s one-million-dollar campaign will enable 20,000 girls in remote areas of East and West Africa to get an education. WGEP notes that despite recent gains, women still comprise two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population, and are less likely than boys to attend school. In rural Africa, the situation is particularly bad: only 15 percent of girls graduate from high school.
In its “Become a Movement Maker” campaign, WGEP is appealing to all sectors of the philanthropy community, particularly women donors and family foundations. According to WGEP, Movement Makers “will embark on an exclusive insider’s journey of our growth efforts, culminating with a global celebration in Kenya in the spring of 2021.”
Looking for ways to buy gifts and support gender equality at the same time? The Body Shop US is donating one dollar to Plan International USA for every holiday pre-packaged gift box and bag sold between November 1 and the end of the year. The money raised, up to a total of $50,000, will contribute to Plan USA’s work to empower girls globally. The program will enable 1,200 youth, through national leadership and advocacy programs, to transform gender norms by creating new narratives about girls focused on power, intelligence and capability.
The impetus for the Body Shop’s “Empower Our Girls” donation are the results of a Plan International USA study on gender equality. Some stats from the survey:
Editor’s Note: This Q&A is with Jenny Flores, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Bank of the West. Grameen America recently announced a new collaboration with Bank of the West, which is donating $2 million to assist with the launch of a new Grameen branch in Fresno, California.
What is the relationship between Bank of the West and Grameen? Does Bank of the West provide the funds and Grameen evaluate the loans and administer the program?
Building on a relationship started in 2017, Bank of the West made an initial $1.5M investment to provide lending capital to Grameen’s Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York branches, helping to establish Bank of the West as one of Grameen’s key business partners in the U.S.
Institutions of higher learning are major recipients of philanthropic gifts, and received donations totaling nearly $47 billion in 2018 (a more than seven percent increase from the year previous). This rise is fueled in part by an increasingly wealthy, educated and philanthropically active group of women who are willing to make big ticket donations to colleges and universities.
Major female donors to higher education have included Roberta “Bertie” Buffett Elliott, who in 2015 gave her alma mater Northwestern University $100 million to fund the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The gift from Elliott, a member of Northwestern’s class of 1954, represents the single largest gift in the Evanston, Illinois school’s history.
The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI) recently announced $50,000 in grant funding to five organizations.
WFRI was launched in 2001, and since then its WFRI Grant Program has awarded more than $700,000 to Rhode Island organizations and programs empowering women and girls. In the most recent cycle of funding, prospective grantees were asked to focus on one or more of WFRI’s 2019 advocacy priorities, which include disparities for Women of Color, economic justice and reproductive health and freedom.
Women funders with an eye on world affairs and human rights, take note: Critics fear that Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Unalienable Rights” is nothing more than a device for legitimizing a roll-back of gender, reproductive and LGBTQ rights globally.
In his July 8 “Remarks to the Press,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the new commission as an “informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy.” Opposition to the commission has been swift. Led by New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 22 Democratic senators—including presidential hopefuls Bennet, Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren—sent a July 23 letter to Pompeo “expressing deep concern” about the commission. They also noted, “The President’s personal affection for those who have trampled on human rights has stained America’s moral fabric.”