Deepening Support for Feminist Activism through Women’s Funds 

Editor’s Note: The following Opinion piece is by Chiara de Luca and Bethan Cansfield, two women’s rights researchers based in London, UK.

As authoritarianism and inequality spread worldwide, and surveillance technology advances, feminist movements face increasing hurdles in their quest for social justice. Cyberattacks, repression of dissent and harassment against women and LGBTI human rights defenders worsened during the past two years in almost all regions of the world.

Chiara de Luca, Feminist researcher. (Image credit: Chiara de Luca)

Women’s funds have been at the forefront of standing in solidarity with feminist activists during the pandemic. The importance of funding feminist movements’ efforts to defend land rights, promote reproductive and sexual health, enhance political participation, and prevent violence against women is now widely recognized. In Argentina, Benin and Mexico, feminist activism brought changes in abortion laws. In North Macedonia, Moldova, Tunisia, and Turkey, feminist groups successfully campaigned for laws to end violence against women and girls. A recent ODI briefing found feminist movements contribute significantly to gender norm changes. 

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Feminist Giving News in a Post-Roe World

Along with all of the other forms of oppression that a world without access to abortion brings, a particularly stark example of the violence that women face in the patriarchy occurred here in Rhode Island recently. Jennifer Rourke, who is part of the Rhode Island Cooperative, an alliance of progressive democratic candidates running for state office, was punched repeatedly by her opponent in the Senate race, Jeann Lugo.

Jennifer Rourke, candidate for Rhode Island State Senate. (Image credit: Jennifer Rourke)

Jennifer Rourke was speaking at a rally to protest the end of Roe V. Wade in Providence. After speaking, she was standing in the audience with friends. According to Matt Brown, candidate for Governor in Rhode Island and co-founder of the Rhode Island Co-op, three right-wing counter-protesters showed up. Jennifer, as one of the leaders there, approached the situation to try to de-escalate and defuse any possible conflict or disruption to the event. But moments later, Lugo, who is a Providence police officer and was off-duty, punched her in the face. The incident was caught on video by Bill Bartholomew.

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Verónica Colón Rosario: Unique Challenges for New Women’s Fund


Editor’s Note: 
This interview in our
 Feminist Giving IRL series features Veronica Colón, executive director of Puerto Rico Women’s Foundation.

Verónica Colón Rosario
Verónica Colón Rosario, executive director of Puerto Rico Women’s Foundation (Image Credit: Verónica Colón Rosario)

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

I wish I knew how small accomplishments and experiences were leading to big changes. I’ve had quite diverse professional experiences, from a research assistant to prominent investigators at NIH, to executive assistant to a Chairman of an international telecommunications company. There was a point in my career life, where I thought the multidisciplinarity of my background would hurt me in finding the space where I wanted to be, when in reality, it has given me the tools I need for this new endeavor. Our Foundation is relatively new and though it started in a good position, there is still a lot to do to build its presence and continue its growth. Now I have the necessary skills to get us there. Trust the process. 

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Tyeshia Wilson: A Giving Circle Leader on the Joy of Community

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Tyeshia Wilson, director of engagement for Philanthropy Together.

Tyeshia Wilson, courtesy of Tyeshia Wilson

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

Working in philanthropy is one of the most rewarding and self-fulfilling careers, ever. I’m altruistic, I’m a humanitarian, and I’m passionate about service. Looking back, I only wish I had been exposed to the idea of a career in philanthropy earlier. If I was aware of this alignment between  my heart and the work of this field, I would have started in this profession much sooner and likely pursued philanthropic studies in school.

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Announcing SHEcovery, A COVID Response Call to Action from CFW

In the wake of the pandemic, the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) has launched SHEcovery to support women of color in the workforce.

The Chicago Foundation for Women has launched SHEcovery as a call to action to invest in women and girls. (Image credit: Chicago Foundation of Women)
The Chicago Foundation for Women has launched SHEcovery as a call to action to invest in women and girls. (Image credit: Chicago Foundation of Women)

Decades of hard-fought gender equity progress have vanished over the past 18 months as women have been pushed out of the workforce in record numbers due to COVID-19 while taking on increased childcare and caregiving responsibilities. To address these challenges head-on, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) today announced SHEcovery™ – a commitment from the Foundation to fund, support, and build a more equitable system that supports Women of Color.

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Women’s Funding Network Announces New Additions to Board

The Women’s Funding Network has announced the addition of Leela Bilmes Goldstein, PhD, Kelly Nevins, and Gina Jackson to its Board.

Leela Bilmes Goldstein, PhD, Kelly Nevins, and Gina Jackson will have taken their seats on the WFN Board of Directors on September 7th, 2021.
Leela Bilmes Goldstein, PhD, Kelly Nevins, and Gina Jackson will have taken their seats on the Women’s Funding Network Board of Directors on September 7th, 2021.

Women’s Funding Network announced the appointments of three new additions to its board of directors: Leela Bilmes Goldstein, PhD, Gina Jackson, and Kelly Nevins. The newly appointed members lead community-based women’s funds with national impact for gender equity and justice advocacy. They will have taken their seats on September 7th, 2021. 

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IWMF Responds to Rising Online Violence with New Virtual Hub

Amid growing online violence toward women in journalism, the IWMF launched the Online Violence Response Hub to aid victims.

The IWMF's Coalition Against Online Violence is home to many resources to aid victims of online violence, the Online Violence Response Hub being the newest addition. (Image credit: IWMF)
The IWMF’s Coalition Against Online Violence is home to many resources to aid victims of online violence, the Online Violence Response Hub being the newest addition. (Image credit: IWMF)

The Coalition Against Online Violence today launched an Online Violence Response Hub to aid women journalists with the rising threat of violence online. The Coalition is led by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) with funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Emerson Collective, Jigsaw, Knight Foundation, and the Luminate Group. This first-of-its-kind suite of support will provide women journalists with ways to fight back against online violence while protecting their privacy, accessing trauma support, pursuing accountability, and continuing to work without self-censorship.

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The Feminist Factor: How is Feminism Changing the World?

On September 23rd, The Women’s Funding Network will host The Feminist Factor, a virtual conference to discuss feminism across the globe.

The Feminist Factor will take place on September 23rd, 2021 from 10:30AM EDT to 6PM EDT. (Image credit: WFN)
The Feminist Factor will take place on September 23rd, 2021 from 10:30AM EDT to 6PM EDT. (Image credit: WFN)

Women Funded 2021 is a virtual gathering of all gender and racial justice funders, allies, and individuals committed to place-based solutions across the globe for gender equity. Women Funded ‘21 will explore the intersectional nature of feminism as a driver of our work, of the values that we hold, and how we are collectively building a more equitable future. 

This gathering is open to the broader philanthropic and movement community as well as the WFN membership.

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Intersectional Philanthropy: A Conversation with Suzanne Lerner

Editor’s Note: This Q&A was created with the assistance and guidance of Claudia Carasso, Founder and Principal of Elastic Minds. This post was originally published on September 10, 2020.

After our July webinar, “Lack of Funding for Women and Girls of Color: What Donors Can Do,” we had a chance to speak further with our guest, Suzanne Lerner, on her approach to intersectional gender lens philanthropy.

Suzanne Lerner, Co-Founder of clothing brand Michael Stars, is an activist entrepreneur with a primary focus on gender & racial equality, and the economic empowerment of women & girls. (Image Credit: Suzanne Lerner)

The conversation below explores Lerner’s experience as a philanthropist, business leader, and activist entrepreneur, as well as what other funders and company leaders can do to advance an intersectional focus in their approaches to philanthropy.

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Philanthropy or Investing: Why Not Both?

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published on February 17, 2021.

When it comes to maximizing our financial impact, there is often an “either/or” approach to leveraging wealth. Do we use our dollars to fund a philanthropic effort, like a campaign or organization dedicated to women and girls, or do we turn our funds toward investment opportunities, like supporting companies with a strong commitment to diversity?

Ellen Remmer is a Senior Partner at The Philanthropic Institute (TPI) and Champion of Invest for Better. (Image Credit: Invest for Better/Ellen Remmer)

As new forms of giving spring up to meet the challenges — and opportunities — of a digital society, we are able to move further away from that attitude of “either/or.” There are ways to stretch our donor dollars further — through two types of collectives that maximize impact.

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