Sheri West on Getting Closer to an Inclusive, Equal World

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sheri West, the Founder, CEO & Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders.

Sheri West is the Founder, CEO, and Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders. (Image Credit: Sheri West/LiveGirl)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Prior to founding LiveGirl, I worked at a large, multi-national company for almost seventeen years. So, I had to “unlearn” corporate bureaucracy in order to embrace the competitive advantage of nimbleness in a small organization. Yes, we vet ideas and have approval processes, but we focus on moving fast when responding to the world. We mine for ideas that our team feels passionately about, and then we make them happen. I feel it’s more important to do what you truly believe in and pursue what makes you happy and excited.

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Jenny Xia Spradling on Financial Well-Being with a Mission

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Jenny Xia Spradling, Co-CEO of FreeWill, a digital estate planning company that has helped more than 150,000 people make wills. Before FreeWill, Jenny worked at McKinsey and Bain Capital, where she helped launched the firm’s first impact investment fund. She is also a cofounder of Paribus, later acquired by Capital One.

Jenny Xia Spradling is the Co-CEO of FreeWill, a digital estate planning company that has helped more than 150,000 people make wills. (Image Credit: FreeWill)

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

You can have a job where you believe in the mission and have really fast career growth. I always felt like this was a trade-off in choosing a career – you could have growth or mission, but not both. The movement of social enterprises has really grown even over the past 10 years, and I think there will be more and more opportunities for people to have financial well-being while also achieving impact they are passionate about.

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(Liveblog) Equality Can’t Wait Challenge Q&A

On Tuesday, August 4th, the organizers of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge hosted a Q&A via Zoom webinar. The discussion focused on the contest itself: what it was, how to enter, and more. Starting with an introductory presentation on the Challenge application and finishing with a lengthy Q&A, this webinar focused on audience participation and a clear explanation of the contest rules and goals.

What is the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge?

The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge is a $40 million venture funded by Melinda Gates (through Pivotal Ventures), MacKenzie Scott, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and facilitated through Lever For Change, Pivotal Ventures, and Common Pool. Designed as a peer-reviewed and panel-evaluated contest, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will offer grants of at least $10 million to at least three winning projects that help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030.

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How is COVID-19 Impacting Justice for Women?

In a new report from the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), UN Women, and a collection of sponsors and contributors, the combined crises of women’s justice and COVID-19 come to light.

Image Credit: IDLO

In Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19, Jeni Klugman of the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security investigates the difficulties women face in seeking justice–difficulties that have been exacerbated, sometimes with disastrous consequences, due to COVID-19.

Drawing on a women’s justice landscape outlined in a 2019 report from the same team (Justice for Women), this new report examines the multiple dimensions of the COVID-19 catastrophe. Common themes in fighting the pandemic–country-wide stay-at-home orders, mass layoffs, closure of businesses that employ low-wage workers–align with troubling themes in women’s justice, such as a rise in intimate partner violence (IPV), lack of access to information via mobile phones and the Internet, and discrimination (both inherent and supposed) against women around the world.

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What Melinda Gates Says, and Doesn’t Say, About Women in COVID

“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.

(Image Credit: Oladimeji Odunsi at Unsplash)

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.

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Sports 4 Life Grants Aim to Increase Sports for Girls of Color

Sports 4 Life, a national initiative co-founded by the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and espnW (“a voice for the woman who loves sports”), was established in 2014 to increase participation of girls of color in youth sports. Recently, Sports 4 Life announced their 2020 grants which will help African American and Latino girls overcome barriers to sports participation.

Twenty-five organizations based in 13 states and Washington, D.C. received the awards which totaled $175,000. The grants aim to augment and diversify sports opportunities for more than 7,700 middle and high school girls, and included funding for programs representing 23 different sports.

(Photo Credit: Sports 4 Life)

The impetus for Sports 4 Life is the recognition that the benefits of participation in sports—which include improved physical and mental health, as well as better grades and improved leadership skills—often disproportionately exclude African American and Latino girls. Historic racial injustices lie at the root of disparities in access to sports participation, and these gaps have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Supporting Women Environmental Leaders During COVID

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.

Ariana Carella, network engagement director, Rachel’s Network. (Image Credit: Ariana Carella)

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.

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Beyoncé: “Vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”

“We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does,” said Beyoncé in her pre-recorded acceptance speech for the 2020 BET Awards. The performer and philanthropist is 2020’s recipient of the Humanitarian Award, bestowed for her work through the BeyGOOD Initiative and other campaigns.

International superstar Beyoncé is the recipient of the 2020 BET Humanitarian Award. (Image Credit: BET/Twitter)

“Thank you so much for this beautiful honor,” she said. “I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain.”

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Plan International Details COVID’s Impact on Latina and Caribbean Girls

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.

Lucía hopes that at the end of the pandemic, girls will have a better quality of life, be free from violence, and have equal access to all services. Photo Credit: Plan International

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.”

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Tech Giants Partner with UN Women on Gender-Based Violence

Editor’s Note: This post was previously published by UN Women on June 25, 2020.

As billions of people are still under COVID-19 lockdown, the shadow pandemic of violence against women has been growing within homes around the world.

UN Women is partnering with Google, Facebook, and Twitter to get public health messages to women across the world about how to access safety if they are experiencing gender-based violence. (Image Credit: UN Women)

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, violence against women and girls, a gross human rights violation, impacted one in three women worldwide. Recent data from multiple countries already show a spike in reporting of domestic violence through helplines since COVID-19 lockdowns started. As countries now contend with economic crisis, service shortfalls and high levels of stress, many women find themselves trapped in isolation with abusive partners, without access to information and support services that they need.

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