Editor’s Note: The following article is by Emily Brown, feminist activist and Oxfam’s former Lead for Transformative Leadership for Women’s Rights.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a terrifying reality worldwide, Southern feminist activists have organized together to provide both immediate local services and long-term support to those affected by poverty, violence and oppression. They have effectively organised environmental, anti-racist, labour, peace and political movements across communities to promote and protect women’s rights and social justice.
As Afghan women join in the streets of Kabul to mark one year since the Taliban’s return to power and call for ‘bread, work and freedom’ – here’s MADRE on the sophisticated organising of local women’s rights networks last year – barely mentioned in mainstream media coverage of recent events:
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Jessica Ryckman, Director of Fellowships at Equal Justice Works.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
A: Right now our nation is facing an unprecedented wave of setbacks that threaten basic human rights previously protected by law. Millions of Americans cannot afford legal assistance when facing life-changing situations, and a 2020 study found that there is only one legal aid attorney for every 10,000 people living at or below the poverty line. This is leaving a gap in our justice system at a time when access to legal aid is more needed than ever.
When I began my career, I was aware of so many attorneys who dreamed of working in public service but were hindered by finances, equity, and accessibility. The cost of a legal education precluded many from entering public interest law upon graduation – or even discouraged attending law school at all. There were also fewer resources at law schools for first generation graduates, like me, who were interested in public interest law but lacked familiarity and mentors to help navigate the legal landscape and make educated choices about how to achieve a career in public service.
Editor’s Note: The following Opinion piece is by Chiara de Luca and Bethan Cansfield, two women’s rights researchers based in London, UK.
As authoritarianism and inequality spread worldwide, and surveillance technology advances, feminist movements face increasing hurdles in their quest for social justice. Cyberattacks, repression of dissent and harassment against women and LGBTI human rights defenders worsened during the past two years in almost all regions of the world.
Women’s funds have been at the forefront of standing in solidarity with feminist activists during the pandemic. The importance of funding feminist movements’ efforts to defend land rights, promote reproductive and sexual health, enhance political participation, and prevent violence against women is now widely recognized. In Argentina, Benin and Mexico, feminist activism brought changes in abortion laws. In North Macedonia, Moldova, Tunisia, and Turkey, feminist groups successfully campaigned for laws to end violence against women and girls. A recent ODI briefing found feminist movements contribute significantly to gender norm changes.
Along with all of the other forms of oppression that a world without access to abortion brings, a particularly stark example of the violence that women face in the patriarchy occurred here in Rhode Island recently. Jennifer Rourke, who is part of the Rhode Island Cooperative, an alliance of progressive democratic candidates running for state office, was punched repeatedly by her opponent in the Senate race, Jeann Lugo.
Jennifer Rourke was speaking at a rally to protest the end of Roe V. Wade in Providence. After speaking, she was standing in the audience with friends. According to Matt Brown, candidate for Governor in Rhode Island and co-founder of the Rhode Island Co-op, three right-wing counter-protesters showed up. Jennifer, as one of the leaders there, approached the situation to try to de-escalate and defuse any possible conflict or disruption to the event. But moments later, Lugo, who is a Providence police officer and was off-duty, punched her in the face. The incident was caught on video by Bill Bartholomew.
This batch of feminist funding news spans from state-based government funding for childcare workers (brilliant stuff!) to ten new additions we have made to the funders listed in our Gender Equality Funder Database. Enjoy!
1: Women’s Foundation of Colorado Makes Goal of 100% Gender Lens Investable Assets
“As the only community foundation in the state focused on gender, racial, and economic equity, it was time to unapologetically integrate all assets of our operation and programs around our goals to ensure the success of our strategic framework,” said Lauren Y. Casteel, president and CEO of The Women’s Foundation. “We are proud to align our money with our mission, and to use all of our available resources to maximize donor impact.”
Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece is from Jamie Allen Black, CEO of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, in response to a recent opinion piece from Jeannie Infante Sager.
As Jeannie Infante Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, points out in her recent Philanthropy Women article, MacKenzie Scott, the world’s most famous female philanthropist, has embraced “trust-based” philanthropy.
Yet the conversation about Scott leaves one fascinating thing unsaid: She’s female and a philanthropist, but she doesn’t give like a female philanthropist.
I recently took the time to read Lighting the Way, a new report from Shake the Table and The Bridgespan Group. These two entities came together to enhance our understanding of the connections between feminist movements and global philanthropy, and to provide some strategic guidelines on how to expand this work.
In order to formulate these guidelines, the group conducted 43 conversations with high-net-worth individuals, institutional funders, and leaders of feminist movements. Here is a quick summary of the five guidelines they created:
Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece by Jeannie Infante Sager, Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the implications of recent philanthropic giving from MacKenzie Scott.
MacKenzie Scott’s recent round of donations brings her total giving to more than $12 billion, benefitting 1,257 nonprofit organizations since 2020. With 60% of her gifts supporting women-led organizations, this is a transformational moment for the visibility of women’s roles in philanthropy and is redefining what it means to give.
It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.
But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.
“This gift is about supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” said Kendra Scott, philanthropist, designer and professor of practice at University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. Since 2019, when Scott first started an institute for women’s leadership in business at the school, she has enjoyed seeing women expand their horizons. “I’ve loved seeing UT create a space where women are inspired and motivated to be leaders in business and to use their knowledge, skills, and energy to keep changing the world and outdated business stereotypes.”
Kendra Scott started her company in 2002, just three months after her first son was born. With $500 and a love for dynamic design and good quality materials, she grew a start-up jewelry business into a company with over 2,000 employees (96% women) and expanded the product line to include home décor and beauty.