On October 17th, 2019, the Women’s Foundation of California (WFoC) celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a major announcement: the organization pledged $40 million to gender justice, and began its groundbreaking campaign to raise the funds to facilitate another forty years of gender justice grantmaking.
Less than a month later, the WFoC is more than halfway to its goal of $40 million. This stunning fundraising effort is the result of a steadfast community of donors, supporters, and activists, which the Foundation has built over forty years of campaigning for social change.
On October 31, Rachel’s Network announced the inaugural winners of the first-ever Catalyst Award. Designed to provide women leaders of color support and recognition, the Catalyst Award highlights winners’ commitment to a healthy planet.
Each award winner will receive $10,000, extensive networking opportunities, and national recognition for their outstanding work. In addition, the award winners will be recognized at an invitation-only ceremony held in March 2020 in Washington, DC.
Chosen from a massive application pool, the winners reflect some of the top talent and dedication in the fields of conservation, environmental law, public policy, and water access.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Swatee Deepak, director of With and For Girls (WFG), a collective that gives financial support to girl-led and -centered groups around the world and engages young women in participatory grantmaking panels.
What is your current greatest professional challenge?
How to best support mergers in the philanthropic sector adhering to the same values and care we place across our work.
With and For Girls was initially incubated within a private foundation, Stars Foundation. In 2018, as a collective, we worked together with adolescent girls to identify a new home and chose Purposeful. What followed was a merger of WFG from Stars to Purposeful. Progressive philanthropy is filled with discussions about shifting power. Here we are, a funder collaborative, working globally across the global north and south and made up of established funders now being held by a grassroots-based organization with headquarters in Sierra Leone.
This week’s essential reading for feminist givers comes from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) with their report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem. The report helps to more clearly define the different types of funding that impact feminist movement-building, and makes recommendations for how to increase the most effective forms of funding.
The report cites evidence that, “A remarkable – and disturbing – 99% of gender-related international aid fails to reach women’s rights and feminist organizations directly.” Instead, these funds end up being used by the development agencies that receive them, or get redistributed to mainstream organizations that are not associated with feminist movement builders.
Looking for ways to buy gifts and support gender equality at the same time? The Body Shop US is donating one dollar to Plan International USA for every holiday pre-packaged gift box and bag sold between November 1 and the end of the year. The money raised, up to a total of $50,000, will contribute to Plan USA’s work to empower girls globally. The program will enable 1,200 youth, through national leadership and advocacy programs, to transform gender norms by creating new narratives about girls focused on power, intelligence and capability.
The impetus for the Body Shop’s “Empower Our Girls” donation are the results of a Plan International USA study on gender equality. Some stats from the survey:
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Loreen Arbus, producer, writer, author, and disability rights activist. She is the Founder of the Loreen Arbus Foundation, President of the Goldenson-Arbus Foundation, and sponsor of the WMC Loreen Arbus Journalism Program, among other projects. On October 21st, Loreen received the Eagle Award at the Disability Rights Advocates’ 2019 Gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Her work as an advocate for people with disabilities, including her commitment to inclusion and integration of differently-abled people and minorities, spans a lifetime of exemplary philanthropic efforts.
Around the world, girls and teens are exposed to violence, environmental devastation, societal exclusion and harm, and other difficulties. MADRE is an international women’s rights organization that typically partners with women-led groups dealing with war and disaster. It is now stepping up to specifically support girls’ growth as they face diverse challenges through a new grantmaking program: VIVA Girls.
With a focus on listening to and uplifting girls’ voices and solutions, MADRE wants to reach “girls from marginalized communities who endure many forms of discrimination; what some people would call ‘girls on the last mile,’” Executive Director Yifat Susskind says. Susskind offered us insights into how VIVA Girls works. MADRE plans to devote about $3 million to this initiative during the next three years.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we are primarily concerned with how gender equality movements are being cultivated through charitable giving. However, we occasionally like to step out of our silo and bring in news about how gender equality can be fostered through our collective distribution systems known as governments.
Which is why, today, we want to talk about Elizabeth Warren’s proposed ‘Wealth Tax’. According to Nancy L. Cohen, author, historian and thought leader on gender and American politics, “Warren’s wealth tax would be a massive investment in gender equity.”
“Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax is a massive investment in gender equality – and if enacted, would be a gamechanger for women and girls across the US,” said Cohen, further describing the tax plan as a “bold investments in universal childcare and early education” that would “raise wages for childcare workers” and “unleash the potential of American women – increasing workforce participation and helping to close the gender wage gap.”
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Suzanne Lerner, activist, philanthropist, and co-founder and president of fashion brand Michael Stars. She serves on the board of the Ms. Foundation, ERA Coalition, and A Call to Men, as well as being a member of Women Moving Millions and Women Donors Network. To learn more about Suzanne, go to www.suzannelerner.com.
What is the most important message people need to understand about why gender equality is so important?
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, provided the keynote address for Women Funding Network’s conference, Leadership for a Changing World, held in San Francisco in September. With a message of urgency about our climate crisis combined with a call for more women’s leadership, Robinson brought the audience to their feet with applause for her words.
“Unless women take leadership in dealing with the climate crisis, then all the other issues, and I fully believe in the intersectionality of all the other issues, but all the other issues will actually fade, because we won’t have a livable world for our children and grandchildren,” said Robinson. “It’s as simple as that, and as stark as that, and as real as that, and that’s why it’s so important that women are now taking that leadership.”