Rhode Island politics is heating up. The Woman Project, a grassroots coalition of progressive women activists in Rhode Island, is calling on House Speaker Nick Mattiello and State Rep. Cale Keable to resign, in light of new evidence that Keable engaged in sexual harassment of Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian, and the House Speaker did little to address the problem.
The Woman Project noted that it is “unthinkable” that Speaker Nick Mattiello would “keep Representative Keable in a leadership role and take no formal action.”
Nick Mattiello is currently being challenged by Republican Steve Frias, who came very close to beating him in the last election, with only 85 votes making Mattiello the winner.
A great deal of emphasis in feminist philanthropy is placed on women, and changing the role of women in society. But what about men? What role can men play in challenging gender norms, and what initiatives are gender equality organizations taking to reach men?
To further explore these questions, I spoke to Giovanna Lauro, Vice President of Programs and Research at Promundo, by telephone from her D.C. office. Promundo was founded in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1997, working with young men in Rio’s poorest communities on transforming gender norms and concepts of masculinity. It has since taken that approach far beyond Brazil, and its website notes, “Promundo works to promote gender equality and create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls.”
The organization’s expansion from the global South to global North makes it an anomaly, as many NGOs start in wealthy countries and then move into less developed nations. Regardless, Lauro says that there is a commonality to the organization’s work, wherever it takes place, namely, “a frustration with the limits of putting the burden of change on women and girls only.” One can work to empower women and girls all one wants, but it’s a tough mandate without change occurring among the other half of the population.
Promundo’s Washington, D.C. office opened in 2011, allowing the organization to expand its reach globally to more than 40 nations. To date, Promundo’s projects and technical assistance have reached roughly 10 million individuals, including over 4,500 health professionals, 22,000 educators, 1,400 members of the police and military, and 300 government officials.
The emphasis on masculinities—what it means to be a man—separates Promundo from many NGOs in the gender-equity field. Lauro argues that continued female empowerment requires men and boys to see themselves as allies and partners, not adversaries. Moreover, change is not a zero-sum game; men and boys also gain in many ways when rigid attitudes toward gender are challenged.
Promundo’s “Manhood 2.0” project, developed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, aims to prevent teen dating violence by engaging young males aged 15-24 in understanding the effects of harmful gender norms. Manhood 2.0 is modelled on Promundo’s Program H (named after homens and hombres, the Portuguese and Spanish words for men) which launched in 2002. Employed by Promundo and its partners in 34 countries worldwide, Program H is based on research with young Brazilian men who exhibited more gender-equitable attitudes than others in their demographic cohort. Men expressing less rigid attitudes around gender roles typically have peer group support in this area, positive personal experiences around gender equality, and male role models who express support for gender equality.
Stereotypical and rigidly enforced conceptions of gender are toxic to all. Statistics indicate the high rate of male violence against women, but it’s not as if men are untouched by violence. They are twice as likely as women to die of suicide, and comprise over three-quarters of homicide victims in the U.S. The large number of male lives lost in wars and other armed conflicts goes without saying. Research by Promundo and other organizations indicates that many of these negative outcomes have their basis in overly rigid conceptions of masculinity. Promundo’s report “Masculine Norms and Violence: Making the Connections” explores this relationship.
Engaging Men Through Pre-Natal Programs and Soccer
Engaging with young men in the U.S. and abroad around harmful gender norms is a noble goal, but how does one lead the male horse to the trough of gender equity? Firstly, Promundo identifies local partners who can make a difference. “Find a facilitator who believes in what they preach,” says Lauro, “someone who has shown a commitment or potential for working for gender equality.” Next, she says, it’s vital to “incorporate contextual intervention” in recruiting and retaining participants. In other words, don’t place an announcement for a gender-equity workshop in the local paper and expect men to rush the doors. Lauro notes two specific angles that Promundo has tried: fatherhood and soccer.
In Chile (and other locales) sessions on gender norms have been rolled into pre-natal programs for first-time dads. Fatherhood, family, child-rearing and gender norms are intertwined, and Lauro notes that a group for expectant fathers can function as “a place where men can have meaningful discussion around gender and express themselves in a safe space.” Promundo is a sponsor of the State of the World’s Fathers report series examining men’s contributions to parenting and caregiving globally. These are published as part of the Men Care (“a global fatherhood campaign”) which Promundo co-founded and coordinates.
Sports is another approach used by Promundo to recruit young men to explore gender-equity and masculinity. The study “Engaging men to prevent gender-based violence” sponsored by Promundo and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women documents a Brazilian program that used soccer to engage men around the issue of gender-based violence. According to the report, “Sports, particularly weekly football (soccer) matches were used as a venue for dialogue and an opportunity to convey the themes of the workshops.” The same report also details programs aimed at understanding and combating gender-based violence that were organized around the workplace (Rwanda), the health sector (Chile), and the community (India). Regardless of the setting, scale or target of the intervention, “We focus on building local partnerships with local organizations,” says Lauro.
The only places where Promundo implements projects directly using its own staff is on its home turf of Brazil, the United States, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where in 2014 Promundo co-founded the NGO Living Peace with local partners. In Eastern DRC, Promundo has worked to promote gender equity in the wake of a brutal conflict which resulted in millions of people being injured, killed, and displaced. The DRC is notable for a very high level of sexual violence, not just as part of the armed conflict, but also in the home and elsewhere. Promundo’s outreach has sought to combat the prevalence of attitudes and practices, including ones about masculinity, which had embedded gender violence so deeply in that society. “We take into account trauma and how this affects behavior,” says Lauro.
Measuring Concrete Change
Promoting gender equity is not easy, and approaches must vary. She notes that sometimes norms change, and then drive a change in behavior. Other times a behavior—which might be encouraged by a public policy like parental leave for both women and men—can produce a change in attitudes, which subsequently influences behavior, and so on. It is not always easy to separate cause and effect. Regardless, the Italian-born Lauro, who has a Ph.D. in political science from Oxford, and previously served as Associate Director of the Women and Population Programme on behalf of the United Nations Foundation, believes in the power of research. “Our goal is to ensure that we can measure concrete change around attitudes, behaviors and norms,” she says.
To this end, Promundo and the International Center for Research on Women have created the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). This household survey probes men’s and women’s practices and attitudes around gender norms, gender-equality policies, care-work distribution, intimate partner violence, health, economic stress and other issues facing women, men, and families. As of 2017, notes Lauro, IMAGES and IMAGES-inspired studies have been administered to more than 40,000 men and 20,000 women in nearly 40 countries. Moreover, Lauro describes the IMAGES survey as an “open source” tool which “can be used by local organizations to inform their own work.”
Promundo uses research not just to take the temperature of a given community regarding gender-equity, sexual violence and other topics, but also to evaluate whether the programs that it and its partners sponsor are having an impact. Do they really produce a change in attitudes and practices? How, I wondered, can one know if a program simply teaches its participants to talk a good game about gender equity to researchers, but leave the reality unchanged?
Lauro notes that a rigorous attempt to gauge the impact of programs and interventions requires more than asking participants easily-answered questions. “From our research, we know that when we word questions in the positive, everyone answers the politically correct ‘yes.’” In other words, asking, “Do you support equality between men and women?” is likely to elicit positive answers, but more authentic responses come from creative questions. “For example,” says Lauro, “we don’t ask ‘have you ever beaten your partner?’ Instead, we ask, ‘how often have you beaten your partner?’” The idea is to remove the cues that would push respondents toward the “correct” response. Furthermore, says Lauro, to corroborate the trends highlighted in men’s responses, women are surveyed as well to find out if they have noticed a reduction in violence. Finally, notes Lauro, “At times we employ a control group which helps isolate the impact of the intervention.” This commitment to research has helped Promundo weed out or modify interventions which have been ineffective in promoting change.
Lauro has a long history of work in this area, including her Ph.D. thesis, which addressed the double standard of European governments toward the global South on harmful gender norms. The Europeans would advocate for women’s rights in Africa or Asia, but at home would use contentious gender issues as a wedge to demonize or punish immigrant communities rather than protect women. Lauro recommends that issues such as child or forced marriage, wherever it occurs, be “framed first and foremost as a human rights issue rather than a cultural practice.”
Promundo works with NGOs and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. These stakeholders have partnered with Promundo, or adopted their programs and implemented them in communities around the world. Promundo receives funding from bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, international NGOs, and individuals. A range of feminist-friendly foundations also support Promundo, “There is a large pool of funders committed to combating gender-based violence,” says Lauro. Other foundations, she notes, are more interested in thematic work on fatherhood and caregiving, gender and youth, or the ramifications for women of large-scale conflict resulting from local gangs, or from ethnic, tribal, national or other differences. Regardless, funding and advocacy around male conceptions of masculinity and gender represents an important part of the fight for gender equality.
After leading the DAFNA Fund in Israel for over 15 years, Hamutal Gouri has written an overview of how we can grow funding for feminist philanthropy and accelerate social change that is both inclusive and fair, and that engages the larger systems of government in new ways.
In the article, Gouri calls on leaders invested in Israel to do more to safeguard human rights and equality, which are under threat from growing religious and nationalist extremes. She then outlines the unequal status of women in Israel before offering her vision of the future steps needed. The article considers the particular concerns of Israel, including specific religious, security, and social justice contexts of the nation.
Everyday, it seems, some new subgroup is taking ownership of the #MeToo hashtag to create a movement of their own. The latest in this growing series of movements: girls. Today, Girls Inc., one of the country’s oldest nonprofits dedicated to helping girls, announced the launch of a new campaign called #GirlsToo, which will work to address gender-based violence against girls, including sexual harassment and assault.
#GirlsToo will take an approach that challenges gender norms for youth. “Sexual harassment and violence is an epidemic facing adults, but the problem starts at a much younger age,” said Judy Vredenburgh, president and CEO of Girls Inc. “The #GirlsToo campaign will focus on building a culture of respect for girls today and generations to come.”
The #GirlsToo announcement was coupled with some sobering facts about just how prevalent sexual harassment is among high school girls. Young girls ages 14 to 19 report report that they hear boys making sexual comments “at least several times a week,” and the majority do not feel safe most of the time in society.
Accompanying the launch is a pledge that both youth and adult can take at girlstoo.girlsinc.org in order to increase their advocacy for gender equality and working to promote the dignity of girls. The campaign also provides resources for girls, boys, parents and educators about how to discuss harassment and abuse in order to feed healthy change in communities.
Today, in recognition of International Day of the Girl, the Obama Foundation has announced the launch of a new initiative that will empower adolescent girls around the world through education.
The initiative aims to support more than 1,500 grassroots organizations around the world that reduce barriers to education for girls such as early marriage, limited access, and lack of financial resources.
Michelle Obama appeared on the Today Show to make the announcement, emphasizing that “The stats show that when you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country.”
The initiative will accept applications from eligible nonprofits already working to increase educational opportunities for girls. Through a collaboration with GoFundMe, the Obama Foundation has established the Global Girls Alliance Fund, which will help raise funds for grassroots organizations to make more headway with goals to educate more girls.
Eligible nonprofits must be seeking between $5,000 and $50,000 for this work, and all funds raised must go directly to programs working on education for girls, not for overhead or general operating expenses.
Once you study women’s philanthropy for long enough, you begin to recognize that a confluence of events relating to women and giving are changing the philanthropy landscape in significant ways. One of the scholars who has studied women’s philanthropy and done this dot-connecting is Kathleen E. Loehr. In her new book, Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy, Loehr addresses the important question of how fundraisers and those committed to women’s giving can take specific actions that will increase women’s philanthropy – already an area of giving scheduled for a large uptick in the near future.
“It is time to rumble with our stories about women’s philanthropy,” says Loehr in the first chapter of the book, referencing a Brené Brown concept about rumbling with the truth to find the real story. In the introduction, Loehr describes a method for asking questions called Appreciative Inquiry, which “involves the art and practice of asking unconditionally positive questions” as a way to increase potential, by maximizing imagination and innovation in the responses being elicited. Loehr has written the book with an Appreciative Inquiry framework, which informs much of what Loehr recommends in terms of a strategy for approaching women donors.
In the book, Loehr combines the ideas of Appreciative Inquiry with an approach to leadership that works to align strengths in an organization, so that weaknesses are so insignificant that they are not even worth noticing. With these approaches in mind, Loehr starts with a call to look more closely at the data about the donors you are trying to reach. With specific examples guided by fundraising campaigns of colleges like Duke and William & Mary, Loehr demonstrates how a closer look at the data yielded a decision to shift fundraising approaches in order to collect the unharvested revenue of women’s giving.
But research is, of course, not enough. Loehr then provides guidance around how to create a high-quality action plan that will increase your donor engagement with women. In part two of the book, entitled Dream, Loehr invited readers into transformative reflection where they can “create a compelling mental picture of what is possible.”
By doing so, Loehr helps drive readers toward the next big step in carrying out their plan: declaring a vision. Through the process of declaring a vision, Loehr shows how intention is amplified, resulting in a stronger approach that will pull in donors, particularly women. Loehr also calls on fundraisers to build networking and collaboration into their vision, since research shows that women are more receptive to giving when they see themselves as joining with other women on a similar mission and participating in design of the project.
What Happens When We Ask Big Questions
Loehr is particularly adept at providing questions in the book that will “prime the pump,” to so speak. She recommends questions that help prospective women donors articulate their own experiences with giving so that fundraisers can fully engage in appreciating those experiences and use them to create that compelling mental picture that will grow women’s support. Here is a small sample of some of those positive, open-ended questions you can pose to donors about their past giving experiences:
What has been your most exciting experience in giving? It does not need to be related to this organization.
Tell me the story. What happened?
What enabled this gift? What role did you play? What role did the organization play? What role did the staff person play in relationship to this experience?
What else made this experience possible?
Loehr suggests that asking these questions help women donors contextualize their giving experience and focus their attention on remembering what that experience was like for them. While such an approach might sound obvious, it is not in the old playbook of “best practices” for development and fundraising professionals.
Loehr also highlights significant research for guiding the ongoing donor-grantee relationship, including how much to communicate with women donors. “It is unlikely that women will feel they are getting too much communication,” writes Loehr, a research-based insight that is important to keep in mind when redesigning fundraising campaigns with women more in mind.
Gender Matters is an important new resource for those who see the potential for women’s giving to influence both philanthropy and civil society as a whole. The guide will help readers notice their own assumptions and how they might be driving their behavior, so they can imagine and explore better ways to reach women as philanthropists.
Wow, what a read. I had to keep stopping at points to walk around the block and get my core energetics realigned. Jacki Zehner literally pours her heart out in this stunning blog post where she shares about her experiences rising to the C-Suite at Goldman Sachs, as well as her intense love for gender equality philanthropy, which has been expressed in over a decade of devotion to growing one of the most important organizations in gender equality philanthropy, Women Moving Millions.
Zehner starts by letting readers know that this writing is more or less automatic — that is, she is going for a Jacki Unfiltered here. What we learn by reading this piece is that Zehner is a complex leader with significant life experiences that inform her activism for women’s rights.
Ever-considerate of others, Jacki warns us that 14 pages have emerged from this attempt to shine a spotlight on her thinking and feeling life. She then goes on to enter into some of the most exciting (and sometimes painful) thoughts and memories. As just an example, check this out:
If there was such a thing as a ‘finance professional Olympics’, becoming a partner at Goldman, especially as a young woman, would represent a gold medal. Of course, I know that there may be someone who reads this and posts in the comments section something along the lines of “die you wall street whore” as they have in the past when I blog freely about Goldman, but so be it. To that potential person I say in advance, “I hope that has helped you feel better about yourself.” […]
Beyond unflinching glimpses like these into Zehner’s mind, the post also delves into many significant life events, including some serious traumas. Her writing is the kind of material that future (or present) movie-makers will want to read in order to gather key scene details for the inevitable biopic of Zehner’s life. For example, here is just one in a bulleted list breaking down the timeline of Zehner’s progression:
Finding Women Moving Millions – 2002 to 2009. As the years from 2002 onward moved forward, I was spending more and more time with philanthropic groups focused on girls and women, and in particular women’s funds. My interest in supporting women’s leadership poured in to my work with various non-profits, and one of the main reasons I loved Women’s Funds so much. I had joined the board of the Women’s Funding Network, and it was there that I got to the know the incredible Chris Grumm. She became, and still is, a role model for me for courageous leadership. She is the one who invited me to consider joining the Women Moving Millions Campaign, as she was a co-founder of it. WMM at the time was a campaign to encourage women to make million dollar commitments to women’s funds. Again, holy shit, I could go on and on and on right here, but I won’t. The need to know piece for the rest of this story is that this moment was transformational for me. Why? Because the act of making that commitment, the moment of stepping onto a stage at the Brooklyn Museum to have a group photo taken by Annie Leibowitz to mark that moment in history where for the first time women of means came together to fund women at the million dollar level, helped me to see clearly what the next stage of my life would be about: helping to unlock the resources of high-net worth women to support other women, and more broadly, gender equality. […]
It’s quite wonderful that Zehner has the clarity to speak about these experiences and mark how these transformations happened for her. By doing so, she is increasing the chances manyfold that other women will get up their courage to do the same.
One other sentence toward the end really popped out at me for how it evoked the shared effort that Women Moving Millions summits are, and how this results in shared experiences that can refuel our courage and make us more powerful. Zehner writes:
The WMM summit 2018 could not have been more incredible from start to finish. (My next long post will be about it all.) I am in awe of how beautiful the program was (thank you JESS), how perfectly it was executed (the WMM and TES team), how open people were (thank you attendees), how much people shared (thank you speakers), and how everyone trusted that we, WMM, had created a safe place for everyone to be their most vulnerable and by definition, their most powerful.
I don’t want to overshare or overanalyze here. I just want to thank Jacki Zehner (as I have privately and will now publicly) for her brave years of service to the community through Women Moving Millions. And then point everyone to Jacki’s blog to read the post and let it open your heart and mind.
An amazing array of women are meeting today in San Francisco for the inaugural #SheThePeople Summit, which aims to be the largest gathering of women of color seeking systemic change to our political and social institutions.
The summit is being led by Aimee Allison, President of Democracy in Color, a new organization that wants to see women doing what they are doing this year: breaking records as they run for office.
“[Women of color] are the most progressive block,” Allison told Bust Magazine in a recent interview. From Bust: “We have the numbers to flip states blue. We are the potential that hasn’t been previously recognized.”
Democracy in Color is a national political organization motivating what its founder, Steve Philips, coined “the New America Majority”: America’s progressive, multiracial voting block. Their work is comprehensive: stimulating nonvoters, organizing campaigns, lobbying for candidates.
As president of the organization, Allison’s roles are manifold—public speaker, thought leader, writer. She stays busy; she’s the host of the “Democracy in Color” podcast, which Ellen McGirt, editor of Fortune magazine’s raceAhead, called, “The smartest podcast on race I’ve found in ages. Listen and grow.” In 2016, Allison organized and moderated “Women of Color: Uniting the Party, Leading the Country.” It was the first Democratic National Convention highlighting the potential women of color have to change democracy.
One of the wonderful things about publishing on feminist philanthropy is getting to meet the folks on the ground in feminism, the people who are growing the movements that need to happen to make our communities more safe, secure, and inclusive.
I’m happy to share an interview I recently did with The Woman Project, a new 501(c)4 organization that started in South County, Rhode Island, and is looking to build the statewide movement to protect reproductive freedom. The Woman Project currently has the General Assembly in its crosshairs and is pushing to pass a bill that would codify protection of Roe V. Wade into state law.
The nation’s oldest public women’s foundation recently announced that it will steer in a new direction over the next five years — toward growing its commitment to low-income women and women of color by more than $25 million.
In addition, the Ms. Foundation will form its first-ever political fund, which will support the legislative agenda for women and girls both nationally and locally.
With Teresa C. Younger at the helm, the Ms. Foundation for Womenis joining other big funders in the feminist philanthropy space, including the NoVo Foundation and Prosperity Together (the national coalition of women’s funds focused on low-income women and women of color) in making economic, social and cultural equality for women and girls of color a central feature of its strategic plan. “Women of color are a political force to be reckoned with,” said Younger, in a press release announcing the new strategic plan. “In 2018, we delivered unprecedented electoral wins in Alabama, Georgia, and New York — yet we are sorely underrepresented in philanthropic investment, with only 2% of that spending going to women and girls of color.”
The Ms. Foundation’s announcement comes at a time when women’s rights and equality are under new threat from regressive local and national political movements. The new grants from the Ms. Foundation will provide both financial support and capacity-building and strategic support. Another important feature of this new strategic plan will be its first-ever formation of a 501(c)(4) fund specifically designed to amplify political movements. “It’s time that we champion and do all we can to ensure that women and girls of color are in power, at the tables of power and are supported as movement leaders,” said Younger.
One more thing this new feminist philanthropy strategic plan will emphasize: relationships, of course! “In response to the fragmented state of the women’s movement and promising new practices that are evolving, our Ms. Foundation for Women team will pilot cross-movement, cross-sector, and cross-generational strategies that can amass a much larger base of supporters and hold diverse social movements accountable for advancing a gender and racial equity agenda,” explains the Ms. Foundation’s strategic plan, Building Power: Advancing Democracy.