As we round the bend on our second year here at Philanthropy Women, it’s time to celebrate a new batch of recipients for our leadership awards. The people and organizations chosen for these awards have all demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy this past year, and represent the growing diversity and strength of this work.
These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently biased toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.
Breakthrough Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership
It was an amazing year for women’s philanthropy. Amid an increasingly hostile political climate, women managed to get elected to public office in record numbers, partially due to the influence of women donors. In addition, the events of #MeToo and the Kavanaugh hearings served to highlight how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are, and how far we still have to go to become a culture that truly values women and prioritizes their safety and equality.
CBS corporation announced today that 18 organizations will receive $20 million in funding to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Many of these organizations are longtime players in the women’s rights space, including New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Media Center, and the National Women’s Law Center, while others are brand new to the field, like TIME’S UP. These grants are part of CBS’s separation agreement with former CEO Les Moonves, which stated that the donations would be deducted from his severance pay.
Despite the myriad challenges that young Black women face in the U.S. South, only 5.4 percent of all foundation funding in this region is focused on women and girls, and less than 1 percent on Black women and girls. To address this imbalance and empower southern Black females, LaTosha Brown of TruthSpeaks Consulting is coordinating a new initiative called the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium (the Consortium), with support from the NoVo Foundation (NoVo). Brown has a clear, creative vision for this work, which she plans to orient around listening to Black girls and “Black joy.”
Like many organizations in the women’s funding community, Women’s Funding Network had a robust year of working on the issues most important to women, including financial empowerment, collaborating with men as allies, and strategic leveraging as a donor and an advocate.
To go a little deeper into this past year of activity in feminist philanthropy, we decided to talk to Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, and hear about what it felt like to run one of the most important organizations in the women’s funding space.
The New York Women’s Foundation distributed a record $8 million in 2017 for undertakings in line with its mission to create “an equitable and just future for women and families.” A vital part of this 31-year-old foundation’s work is drawing on local expertise to create and disseminate research on the needs and circumstances of women, girls, LGBTQI, and gender-nonconforming people.
In the fall of 2018, the foundation released part of a series called, Voices from the Field, which explores challenges and support strategies for low-income women in NYC during four major developmental periods: ages 0-8, 9-24, 25-59, and 60 and up. The newly released “Blueprint for Investing in Women Age 25 – 59” draws on data and expert interviews across academic, policy, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to identify systemic barriers and potential solutions for these populations.
After an extensive search and interview process, Women Moving Millions (WMM) recently announced the appointment of Sarah Haacke Byrd as its new Executive Director. Byrd is an influential rising star of the feminist philanthropy community known for being a “joyful warrior” in the ongoing battle for gender equality. Byrd also comes to her new position at WMM with a history of leadership focused on legislative changes that would make the processing of rape kits a necessity in all police investigations of sexual assault.
I can see the travel brochures now: Come to Seattle, home of some of the biggest feminist funding gatherings in recent history!
Not only did the Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions convene in Seattle this year, but now the Women Donors Network has also paid a visit to Emerald City, making Seattle a central destination for feminist philanthropists in 2018. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored Women Moving Millions for their event in September, and hosted the Women’s Funding Network for an evening event at the same time.
The “Global Financing Facility” (GFF) might not be a familiar name for some in the U.S. philanthropy world, but it ranks among the most important organizations in the ongoing fight for global gender equality. Recently, GFF made a big pledge that is particularly noteworthy for its public/private collaboration, and for its attention to women. GFF is an international organization supported by the World Bank Group, and dedicated to improving the health of the planet’s most impoverished women and children.
The recent Kavanaugh hearings resurfaced a very old story about gender, power, and the truth of experience. When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testified, people everywhere had to grapple with the fact that early life relationships, and particularly sexual traumas, can drastically impact our lives.
In fact, while our dominant culture remains in denial about the prevalence and negative effects of sexual violence, thought leaders in feminist psychology and sociology have been calling attention to the problem for decades. While sexual violence is an extreme form of domination and abuse, these thought leaders have demonstrated how gender-based violence is part of a continuum of control and exploitation that most women begin to experience more of as they hit adolescence.