Feminist Philanthropy Q and A with Donna Hall and Ruth Ann Harnisch

Ruth Ann Harnisch, Co-Founder and President of the Harnisch Foundation, shares insights on feminist philanthropy. (Image credit: The Harnisch Foundation)

Watching the news in 2019 can sometimes be an exercise in self-restraint. So often, we find ourselves gripped by unpleasant stories that have far-reaching implications, particularly for women.

At the same time, women’s voices are heard more widely in 2019 than in previous generations. Just look at the #MeToo movement, Nike’s “they call us crazy” advertisements, or the thousands of women who marched into DC’s Freedom Plaza on January 19th. These movements are a reminder that the world is not limited to what we see on the news — women around the world are banding together to make their voices heard, and when women unite to enact social change, incredible things happen.

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How Can Philanthropy Do More to Support Women in Sports?

Golfer Maria Fassi greets young girl fans at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur event. (Photo credit: Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Twitter)

Good news for women in sports: for the first time ever, the Augusta National golf tournaments included women, in the form of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur event. Finally, one of the oldest and most revered golf courses in America allowed women to officially compete on its greens.

USA Today asked a very pertinent question following the breakthrough: What if Augusta National had done this 20 years ago? This process of opening up golf to women could be so much further advanced today, if we could have gotten the ball rolling earlier.

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Women Moving Millions, Every Mother Counts Unite for Maternal Health

In 2008, over half a million women died from complications stemming from pregnancy and childbirth. After ten years of campaigning, maternal mortality rates have dropped, but as of 2018 there are still more than 300,000 deaths attributed to maternal mortality each year. By the numbers, a woman dies from maternal health issues every two minutes. Over the course of a one-hour seminar, that’s thirty childbirth-related deaths.

And the worst part? Most of these deaths are easily preventable with modern medicine.

Founded in 2010 by Christy Turlington Burns, Every Mother Counts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for everyone around the world.

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Lyda Hill, Female STEM Philanthropy Pioneer, and Master of Surprise

Lyda Hill at the launch of IF/THEN.

If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.

If we support the organizations that support women in STEM, then we can change the world together.

Through surprise, purpose, and meaningful relationships, Lyda Hill is transforming feminist philanthropy as we know it — and her foundation’s $25 million donation to the IF/THEN initiative is the next great chapter in an inspiring lifelong story.

Lyda Hill, the entrepreneur and donor behind Lyda Hill Philanthropies, is no stranger to donations that come with a twist. Her organization is committed to funding meaningful change through her personal philosophy and her personal estate — all of which she plans on donating to charity in full, most of it during her lifetime.

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Disrupting Philanthropy’s Status Quo by Convening on Gender

Surina Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of California. (Image Credit: WFC)

“I recently went to the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery Alabama. It’s an incredibly powerful place, but the stories of women are not as prominent as they could be,” says Surina Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of California (WFC), in a recent interview about the principles guiding her leadership.

The experience of visiting the Legacy Museum reinforced for Khan the importance of gender justice impact assessments — of organizations and institutions regularly assessing whether they are paying enough attention to gender issues. Since returning to the helm of WFC in 2014, Khan has taken an increasingly intentional approach to employing a gender lens to everything they do, meaning from caterers to banking services to program grantees, it’s all about doing business with partners who align with WFC’s values.

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Teen Girls are Leading the Way. How Can Philanthropy Support Them?

Greta Thunberg, teen activist from Sweden, has helped amplify climate change movements with her advocacy. (Photo Credit: Greta Thunberg on Twitter)

Teen girls are becoming movers and shakers across the globe in areas like gun violence, environmental activism, and gender equality, as well as advocacy for inclusiveness and systems change of all kinds.

And rather than simply accepting the hands they’ve been dealt, teen girls and young women are taking the lead to change their lives and the lives of those around them. A Swedish teen activist, Greta Thunberg, has recently made waves and garnered well-deserved media attention for her work around climate change. She has protested outside of the Swedish parliament and has spoken about the need to protect the environment for future generations at Davos and the United Nations. Thunberg has also inspired others her age, mobilizing school-based climate change protests in Sweden and worldwide. She was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and stands to be the youngest recipient since Malala Yousafzai if she wins.

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New Funding to Spotlight Women’s Many Historic Roles in Filmmaking

Jill Godmilow editing her 1975 documentary, ANTONIA: A PORTRAIT OF THE WOMAN, one of the many thousands of films in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films.



Gender-lens projects coming out of Washington, D.C. these days are rare, but here’s a great one. The National Endowment for the Humanities has just awarded the American Film Institute a $350,000 grant toward a study on gender parity in the history of American film. The funds support a survey of the roles of women in the over 100 years of American movies that are in the database in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films. The collection has amassed over 500,000 listed credits on all these productions.

The database is complete for the years 1893-1993 and is abbreviated for films released after 1993. It covers all Hollywood films and independent works that made theatrical release. My own single entry is here.

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How This Nonprofit is Growing Support to End FGM Globally

Former First Lady Michelle Obama with Amy Maglio, Founder of the Women’s Global Education Project. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy for the Obama Foundation)

Recently when checking in with the Obama Foundation, we learned that they are highlighting the Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP) and its work in helping global communities end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). To find our more about how this work takes place, Philanthropy Women spoke with Amy Maglio, Founder of WGEP. Maglio founded WGEP over 14 years ago after she was a peace corp volunteer in Senegal, where she lived for three years.

“When I got back from Senegal, I thought about all the girls I knew who weren’t in school,” said Maglio. She was particularly concerned with the reasons that girls weren’t going to school, and wanted to find more ways to ensure that girls got into school and stayed in school in Senegal. Maglio began partnering with local community-based organizations in Senegal that were already working on these questions. Local organizers in Senegal identified that girls ended their education often because of healthy, safety, and cultural issues.

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New Research from WPI Highlights Race and Gender Variables in Giving

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at University of Indiana has come out with a new report detailing giving across race and gender. (Photo credit: WPI)

One important role that the Women’s Philanthropy Institute plays is producing research that drills down on the data about women’s giving, adding more demographic detail, including race, to the picture of how and why women give.

In its most recent research, WPI has identified ways that donors differ across race, and ways they appear to behave in relatively similar fashion. All of this data points to the fact that philanthropy is growing more aware of its diversity, and funders and nonprofits would do well to find ways to maximize engagement with donors of all backgrounds. By doing so, philanthropy as a social domain can help recognize and empower donors from historically oppressed or marginalized groups.

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New Coalition Forms to End Gender-Based Violence at Work

A new coalition of 11 funding partners have come together to create new support for ending gender-based harassment and abuse in the workplace. (Image Credit: Safety and Dignity for Women)

Over the past few years, the #MeToo movement has brought to light the rampant issues of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence that plague many of our communities. Mainstream media has primarily focused on sexual violence and harassment in high-profile industries, such as entertainment, sports, journalism, higher education, and the corporate world.

But the populations most disproportionately affected by sexual violence and harassment are often the same ones that go underserved, both financially and by media coverage. These populations include women of color, trans and nonbinary women, women with disabilities and/or mental illnesses, immigrants and migrants, socioeconomically disadvantaged women, indigenous women, and incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women, among others. Many of these women work in industries where sexual violence is prevalent and often ignored, such as domestic work, restaurants, and hospitality. Workers in these industries often go without the labor protections that can serve as a partial buffer against sexual exploitation.

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