Powerful Men Backing Feminism: Obama and Bill Surprise Melinda

In a video appearance, Barack Obama talks with Bill Gates about how to surprise Melinda Gates at the end of her book tour. “Please tell Melinda I’m committed to the Lift. We’re gonna do everything we can to keep pushing until every single girl has the rights and opportunities and the freedom to go as far as her dreams are going to take her,” said Obama in the call. (Image Credit: Twitter video)

Men make great feminist philanthropists, too.

On May 9th, during the final stop of the tour for Melinda Gates’ new book, The Moment of Lift, audience members in Seattle got a surprise video visit from former President Barack Obama.

In an introductory speech that shocked Melinda herself, her husband Bill Gates revealed that he had been unsure how best to introduce Melinda for the most important event of her tour, so he began “secretly scheming” with the former President to decide on the best method — and posted their “brainstorming” session on Twitter.

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Knowing When to Say No: Sometimes Leaving Money on the Table Sends the Strongest Message

The Haitian Project President Deacon Patrick Moynihan (right) stands with Louverture Cleary School faculty and administration at an all-school morning prayer and meeting. (photo credit: The Haitian Project)

Patrick Moynihan, President of The Haitian Project, a Rhode Island-based Catholic non-profit which educates poor Haitians, has publicly rejected a $100,000 donation offered by a representative of Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots.

In a May 8, 2019 Skype interview given to the GoLocalProv website, and reiterated in a Providence Journal opinion piece published several days later, Moynihan stated that because Kraft has refused to denounce the sex trade and apologize for his participation in it, it was improper for The Haitian Project to accept funds from the Patriots owner.

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#GenerationEquality: UN Women Revitalizes 25 Years of Empowerment

Generation Equality is the UN’s new rights campaign for women and girls. (Photo Credit: UN Women on Twitter)

On May 6, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, tweeted:

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 is the most visionary agenda. #Beijing25 must be both our present & our future for the empowerment of women and girls. That’s why we are all #GenerationEquality.

In 1995, thought leaders around the globe met to create the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, at the time considered one of the most forward-thinking women’s rights and gender equality initiative ever drafted. Developed during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the Platform for Action was designed as “a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.” 189 governments committed to making strides in 12 areas of critical concern, but despite the slow progress we have seen over the last 25 years, not a single committed country can accurately claim it has achieved true gender equality.

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More Than Survivors: Developing the Next Generation of Tech Workers

The Foundation for Gender Equality is launching a new initiative aimed at helping female survivors of gender-based violence learn tech skills. (Image Credit: The Foundation for Gender Equality)

The Foundation for Gender Equality aims to foster opportunities and remove obstacles for women and girls facing inequity, and its latest initiative targets female survivors of violence and sexual abuse with a program that teaches them tech skills. The goal is to enable victims to go beyond simple survival to earning a living wage. The Westport, Connecticut-based non-profit, which was founded in 2016 by Richard and Jill Fitzburgh and Theresa Boylan, has partnered with Tech Up for Women to develop the “Give Back” program to achieve this goal.

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Violence is Not Culture: Feminist Philanthropy Draws the Line

Feminist activists and philanthropists are helping to recognize FGM as a form of violence against women. (Image Credit: Global Citizen Video, The Truth About Female Genital Mutilation)

Recently I read a post on PRI.org by Rupa Shenoy entitled “The US movement against female genital mutilation is at a crossroads,” which discusses how laws to prevent FGM are developing and facing challenges in the US. The article is very informative about the status of the issue at this time, and helps to explore different ways to address the problem including community education and prevention efforts.

A salient point was made by one of the experts interviewed for the article, Mariya Taher, one of the co-founders of the anti-female genital mutilation advocacy group Sahiyo.  With regard to the doctor who performed the genital cutting surgery that was the subject of a federal prosecution on FGM, and who justifies the act as part of a cultural practice, Taher said:

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Thomson Reuters Wins Funding for LGBTQ Reporting in Asia and Africa

Thomson Reuters Foundation has received new funding to support reporting on issues of modern slavery and LGBTQ rights. (Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Here’s some good news for global feminist donors, particularly those focused on giving for LGBTQ issues. The Thomson Reuters Foundation – the charitable arm of the global news and information provider – has won funding for more media reporting on marginalized populations, as an award from the People’s Postcode Lottery, a UK-based organization that devotes “a minimum of 32% from each subscription” to charities and causes in Great Britain and around the globe.

The Foundation has received a £400,000 ($523,560 US Dollars) grant from the Postcode Heroes Trust, to expand its reporting on social justice issues related to labor and sex trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, as well as LGBTQ rights. These funds will be particularly focused on increasing media coverage of these topics in Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa.

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We Are Unstoppable: Giving Circles Organize Into a Movement

Marcia Quinones, member of East Bay Latina Giving Circle. (Photo credit: Latino Community Foundation)

Giving circles bring people together to practice collective philanthropy. In the same spirit, representatives of giving circles and giving circle networks across the U.S. are now convening to build power. In April 2019, 82 members of dozens of giving circles in the U.S. met for two days in Seattle, Washington, to share stories, hopes and plans for building a stronger giving circle movement. Women are playing a leading role in these efforts.

Giving Circles Grow and Set Goals

Giving circles allow friends, neighbors, families and people with religious, civil, cultural and other connections to learn about issues of shared concern and decide where to donate their money. They are usually created by women and/or members of ethnic minority, LGBTQ or other marginalized groups — those who typically hold a lesser share of power and money in the U.S. — though many open their doors to anyone with common values. Women make up most of their members.

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How Mainstream Media is Amplifying Feminist Philanthropy

A feature story by Julia Travers from Inside Philanthropy explores the funders using participatory grantmaking with girls. (Image Credit: Inside Philanthropy)

“In every decision you make, in every strategy you make, ask yourself a question: Where are girls?”

This is a statement from one of The With and For Girls Collective’s teenage activists, quoted in an article for Inside Philanthropy, and it rings true for philanthropic organizations around the world.

The growing influence of women on philanthropy is starting to draw attention, in the best possible ways. As more women work together to enact true social change, and as more female pioneers lead the way toward a more gender-equal future, mainstream media outlets are beginning to observe and comment on the trend.

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Helping Women Dancers Take the Lead in Choreography

Choreographer Penny Saunders (center left) with DDP founder and president, Liza Yntema (center right, with her arm around Saunders), with the cast of Saunders’ piece, “Testimony” at Grand Rapids Ballet, (Photo credit: Liza Yntema)

While women fill most of the shoes in ballet, leadership positions are still dominated by men, especially in choreography and artistic direction roles. A nonprofit called the Dance Data Project (DDP) aims to help more women in dance keep up to date with choreographic opportunities and ascend the ballet leadership ladder. With this goal in mind, in April 2019, DDP released a report on contemporary opportunities in choreography, along with monthly spreadsheets and calendar reminders of global deadlines. Earlier in 2019, it also published research on salary by gender for leaders in ballet, finding notable imbalances in favor of men, especially in artistic direction.

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What Can Feminist Philanthropy Do to Address Sexism In Video Games?

Student game makers participate in teams at a Girls Make Games event. (Photo Credit: Girls Make Games)

The video game industry has long been thought of as a “boys’ club.” Even before August of 2014, when the events of Gamergate painted a horrible picture of the worst case scenarios for women in the games arena, representation of women in games and a lack of female game developers left much to be desired.

According to the International Game Developers Association, women make up 47% of the people playing video games, but only 22% of the people creating them. Likewise, women have been historically under- or misrepresented in games. Too often, female characters in games were (and still are) over-sexualized, cast as tired tropes like the “damsel in distress,” or used as reward fodder for gamers who would normally be expected to play males.

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