Gender Takes Center Stage in New Round of Systems Change Grants

Co-Impact—a philanthropic collaborative supporting health, education, and economic development in the Global South—currently has an “Open Call for Systems Change Grants.” Submissions are open until March 31, 2020, and this round of grants will place particular emphasis on gender equity.

A participant in the Young Women Leadership Program explains the parts of the Central Processing Unit in Bihar, India.
(Photo Credit: Paula Bronstein/The Verbatim Agency/Getty Images)

The “Co” in Co-Impact’s name points to its belief in collaboration and cooperation between funders and program partners including local communities, nonprofits, governments, and businesses. Co-Impact aims to enable sustained macro-level change, and it identifies and supports “a portfolio of pathbreaking systems change opportunities, investing over the long-term to help address obstacles and limitations in unjust systems that hamper human progress.” Co-Impact is dedicated to building a network, rather than a portfolio of discrete, single-donor funded projects:

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Lucina Di Meco on Women Political Leaders and Media Bias

Much has been written about fake news, bots, Internet trolls, and the gamut of tech-driven media manipulation that ranges from ad-hoc hoaxes to systematic attempts to hijack civil and political discourse. But there has been a lacuna in this coverage: gender, and the ways in which female politicians are victims of “gendered disinformation.”

Lucina Di Meco discusses the difficulties that women politicians face in a hostile media environment. (Photo credit: Lucina Di Meco)

In the report “Women, Politics & Power in the New Media World,” gender expert and women’s rights advocate Lucina Di Meco tries to fill this gap. “Millions of dollars are being spent on programs looking at democracy and technology,” she writes. “Almost none of them factors in women in politics. It’s infuriating and doesn’t make any sense.”

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Media Gap on Women and Politics: The 19th Steps In

It’s a brutal media landscape with each year bringing more layoffs and buy-outs of journalists, and closures of big city dailies. Paper is dying, and the digital arms of legacy media entities must fend off content-stealing, bottom-feeding, celebrity-obsessed click-bait factories. It’s difficult for serious and thoughtful, or even middle-of-the-road mainstream journalism, to survive unless backed by very deep pockets and a vast reach. And if a media organization wants to address gender and race in a comprehensive fashion, it’s well-nigh impossible.

media gap on women
The 19th will provide more media coverage of women as they push for a larger share of power in American politics. (Image Credit: The 19th)

It’s tough sledding, but the benefits of an informed public are incalculable and essential to democracy, and can’t be judged solely by looking at the bottom line. Consequently, some philanthropists are stepping-up and underwriting news and information organizations, as is the case with the support for a novel venture, The 19th, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.”

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PepsiCo Fdn Supports Game-Based Strategy for Young Women Workers

The PepsiCo Foundation is collaborating with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) on a digital life-skills course to help young people, particularly women, succeed in the workplace.

Game-based learning program Passport to Success helps young women develop skills for the workplace. (Image Credit: IYF)

The IYF Passport to Success program is a game-based program that can be accessed by youth worldwide using a mobile device. The 10-hour 18-unit program is designed to be “gender-smart” and includes women serving in various professional and non-traditional roles, as well as in positions of authority. The country-specific curriculum also targets barriers to gender equality as they exist in different regions.

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Plan Probes Adolescent Thought and Behavior Re: Gender Equality


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 International USA’s report helps to identify key attitudes and experiences of teenagers in the U.S., particularly around issues like sexual harassment, physical appearance, and media representation of girls. (Image Credit: Plan International USA)

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.

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Movement Building for Women: An Interview with Teresa Younger

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.

Teresa Younger, Ms. Foundation President and CEO, recently spoke with Philanthropy Women about bold new steps the foundation is taking to advance rights for women and girls.

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.

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What Can $20 Million Do For Women’s Funds Internationally?

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.

BANGKOK, THAILAND: Neeramol Sutipannapong, a home-based worker, stitches a variety of hand bags and other products to help support her family. (Hewlett Foundation “Images of Empowerment.” Photo by Reportage by Getty Images.)

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.”

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Plug In! WPI 2020 Symposium Focuses on Tech and Giving Synergies

“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?

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Calling All Movement Makers: This Global Women’s NGO Needs You!

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.

Credit: Women’s Global Education Project

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.”

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Supporting Gender Equality for the Holidays

Looking for ways to buy gifts and support gender equality for the holidays? 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.

Plan USA’s Youth Leadership Academy
Credit: Plan International USA

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:

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