I enjoyed reading Jacki Zehner’s call to make 2017 the “Year of Wonder Women” — the year when we all become defenders of “justice, progress and equality.”
Without the female President many of us envisioned leading the charge on the causes we care most about, we must all become even stronger defenders of those values.
Zehner writes: “This month marks the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman in DC’s All Star Comics #8 in December, 1941. She was introduced as an Amazon warrior who was sent to the world of men to fight against the biggest threat facing the world at that time; the Nazi party in World War II.”
With the change in leadership in the U.S. toward a more conservative, white nationalist mentality, it’s a good time to look around the globe and discover other leaders of women’s empowerment who are outside of the U.S. political sphere.
One impressive leader is Cherie Blair and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which is doing work internationally to help women develop business skills and earn income. Next year, the foundation will even be expanding its work to reach some of the most marginalized women in the world, those impacted by war in the Bekaa Valley, an area heavily impacted by the flood of refugees across the border of Syria.
Let’s face it: it’s going to be a rough time for gender equity over the next four years, if not longer. In my private practice as a therapist, just days after the election, I saw a clear uptick in violent and threatening behavior toward my domestic violence clients. This may have just been coincidence, but I wondered. Suddenly, a very old threat was a new threat again.
This article from Reuters, Women’s Rights Face a Daunting New Year Worldwide, Campaigners Warn, lays out clearly where and how movements for gender equality will be hurting in the coming years. Work to end violence against women is going to face major challenges, as will work to keep access to contraception and abortion available. And the list goes on.
Many of us are wondering on a daily basis what will happen to marginalized communities under a Trump administration. Now, the Women Donors Network and Solidaire are teaming up to do something with that concern: raise money to defend and include.
With a goal of raising $500,000 between now and Inauguration Day, January 20, The Emergent Fund will work to fund organizations that defend marginalized groups particularly threatened by a Trump presidency. The populations they will work to protect include “immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, Black people, LGBT communities, and all people of color.”
From the press release:
We don’t know exactly what will come, but we must be prepared. We do know that there are strong leaders and organized movements on the ground in these communities, and we know that their work has been historically under-resourced. Now is the time for us to use our collective power to stand with them and support them in what they are doing, to listen to what they need, and to fund the new strategies that will emerge over the next 2-4 years.
Some big trends are happening in America for women, and these trends will likely be snowballing in the near future. The first trend: the growing financial muscle of women. The second: women’s growing leadership. Add to this mix the upward trajectory of women’s role in philanthropy, and you may have the makings of a paradigm shift.
In conversing with Debra Mesch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and Andrea Pactor, its associate director, I came away with a sense of how forces are aligning, now more than ever, for women to take the lead in philanthropy and beyond, and shape public policy for the common good.
Today, Brooklyn Community Foundation announced $1.9 million in new grants through its Invest in Youth initiative, bringing the Foundation’s total funding for youth-serving nonprofits in Brooklyn to $2.3 million in 2016.
BCF launched its Invest in Youth initiative in 2015 as a 10-year, $25 million commitment to improve Brooklyn’s social and economic opportunities and outcomes for 16- to 24-year-olds, particularly young people of color.“We believe that a stronger and more equitable future for Brooklyn depends upon the success of its young people today—especially those who are growing up in our poorest communities.” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke.
Many experts have argued that nothing is more important for global development than empowering women to play an equal role in all societies. Lately, that view has growing sway at the world’s biggest foundation.
Signs have been emerging for a while now that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving more attention to women’s empowerment, with Melinda leading this shift—while also becoming more independent in her philanthropy. This could be a very big deal over the long term.
Here are some of the tea leaves we’ve been reading.
First, Melinda Gates has recently raised her profile as a leader on women’s issues. In the past 18 months, she’s given interviews to several national media outlets, including Fortune and Elle, about her increasing focus on women’s empowerment, and authored an opinion piece for CNN about the need for more data on women. She even recently said she would like to see a woman become president. No clear endorsement here, but that’s a pretty big hint about how this powerful female leader sees the world. She is making more videos in which we hear her voice and see her face. She’s making it crystal clear that one of the richest women in the world is also a huge believer in women’s empowerment.
Here’s the story of how Emily Nielsen Jones and her husband, Ross Jones, discovered their niche of integrating a gender focus into their faith-inspired philanthropy. The Boston-based couple once funded Christian Union, an Ivy League campus ministry, to launch a new branch at their alma mater, Dartmouth College. They were impressed with the organization at first because of its interest in mobilizing students to engage in combating human trafficking.
But as Jones got closer to the organization and started asking gender-related questions, she uncovered that within its own organization, the Christian Union promotes what it calls a “complementarian” leadership structure, which excludes women from top leadership positions. Once the couple gained more awareness about this policy, which creates gender ceilings for both staff and students, they engaged in a dialogue to encourage Christian Union to reconsider its practices of limiting women in the organization.
You can’t get much closer to the epicenter of creativity, social justice, and women’s empowerment than the Harnisch Foundation (theHF). Through its focus on empowering women and girls of all backgrounds, its innovative grantmaking toward women and media, and its latest Funny Girls grant initiative that teaches resilience and leadership through improv, theHF’s work spans some of the most relevant and important missions in philanthropy today.
How did Ruth Ann Harnisch rise to her current position, with an amazing career in journalism and media under her belt, as well as 17 years at the helm of a foundation carrying out many unique and creative initiatives for women and girls?
If you spend time reading about women and philanthropy, you will invariably come across Helen LaKelly Hunt. Along with her sister, Swanee Hunt, these two feminist philanthropists are major players in the women’s funding movement, which hit the big leagues in the past decade as high-net-worth women began to make gifts of over $1 million dollars to fund causes for women and girls.
While researching for her dissertation on the origins of American feminism, Hunt discovered that 19th century women didn’t fund the suffrage movement. Instead, they funded things like their husband’s alma maters, churches (where they had no voice) and the arts. Years later, when women began pledging and making million-dollar gifts to women’s funds, Hunt captured that history in a book called the Trailblazer book, which was circulated to other women donors. This compilation of women’s testimonies helped catalyze the founding of Women Moving Millions.