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.
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.”
The fight for equal pay for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has garnered as much attention as their on-field exploits, which culminated in their Women’s World Cup win in France on July 7. While many companies are now talking a good game about gender equity, two sponsoring companies—Luna Bars and Secret Deodorant—have stepped up and pledged money to the women’s team and its players.
The members of the U.S. Women’s team filed a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer in March, and the two sides have agreed to mediation. Former U.S. star goalkeeper Hope Solo filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer nearly a year ago, also charging the Federation with pay and other discrimination. Her lawyers filed a motion on July 22 in Northern California District Court that she be allowed to join the mediation.
During the Women’s World Cup final match—won by the U.S. 2-0 over the Netherlands—and again during the ticker tape parade three days later in Lower Manhattan, the chant of “Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay” rose from the crowd.
The women collected about $250,000 each in bonuses for being members of the championship team, but had the men’s team done the same, the payday would have been many times greater. The 2018 Cup-winning French team got $38 million in prize money, while the U.S. women’s squad got four million for their victory.
An excellent new development in the giving circle realm: The H100 Latina Giving Circle recently launched at the Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF). It was formed by the Hispanic 100 Network to further engage Latinas in philanthropy, and expand resources for local organizations empowering, educating and supporting Latinas.
H100 joins three other TWF hosted giving circles: Orchid Giving Circle, HERitage Giving Fund and The Village Giving Circle. The Hispanic 100 Network—founded in 1996 by prominent Dallas/Fort Worth area Latinas in business, education, arts, health, politics and community leadership—is helping launch the Circle by providing $50,000 in matching funds.
A powerful tool to increase gender equity and strengthen families is to expand paternity leave, giving men greater attachment and involvement with their young children, and lessening the burden on women.
Dove Men+Care, in partnership with the global gender justice organization Promundo, is studying the impact of paternity leave on gender equality, and revealing the many benefits that accrue to employers, parents and society when men have greater access to paid leave and participate more fully in child rearing. (The article “Why championing paternity leave empowers men, women and business,” appearing on the Unilever website, summarizes some of these findings).
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s recently announced a new initiative called United for Girls, which aims to increase soccer opportunities for young girls and women from underserved communities.
United for Girls has an ambitious goal over the next three years: double both the number of girls impacted by the Foundation’s programs, and the number of U.S. Soccer Foundation female coach-mentors. Adidas, the initiative’s founding partner, is working with the Foundation to get more girls on the field, and combat their high athletics drop-out rate.
Bumble—the self-proclaimed feminist dating, lifestyle and career app—recently announced the five winners of its 2019 “Female Film Force” competition.
The competition, now in its second year, provides grants to female filmmakers in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK. Female Film Force received over 1,300 pitches by teams of women filmmakers (writers, directors, or producers) and awarded £20,000 (about $25,000 USD) to each winner.
The initial candidates had submitted their applications in March, and were subsequently reduced to a short list, following which ten teams pitched a film industry panel, and then that group was winnowed to the five victors. In addition to the grant, the winners will receive support and guidance from industry experts; the completed films will be released in January 2020.
Women comprise a large and growing percentage of the global workforce, yet they often work under unhealthy and difficult conditions, including harassment and violence, that are damaging to them, and to their families and communities. In textile, garment and shoe manufacturing, as well as flower farming and tea, coffee, and cocoa processing, women comprise 50 to 80 percent of the workforce. Many of these female workers are underpaid and suffer from pervasive gender discrimination.