During a class at the Harvard School of Public Health, Debbie Chang’s instructor showed a picture of a tractor in the middle of a field in Africa. Rusted away, with weeds growing through its seat and tires, the tractor stood forgotten and ignored, the last remnants of some well-intentioned but badly thought out campaign for change.
“The point was that you can’t force social change upon people,” Chang says. “It may work in America, but it won’t work in Africa. It really made me think about how you can’t solve problems in a top-down model. You’ve got to focus on the local people and their culture, and solve problems with the community, not for the community.”
This year’s signature series from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) focuses on a vast area of study — gender and technology. This subject is just beginning to get explored, and for good reason — it turns out there are significant differences in how women use technology to conduct their philanthropy. There are also key spaces online where women network and build on their work in philanthropy, and those spaces are influencing the direction of philanthropy writ large.
Today, WPI is launching its Plugged In Podcast series, which will explore different aspects of how gender and technology influence philanthropy. Speakers today include:
-Asha Curran, CEO, #GivingTuesday -Elizabeth Gore, President, Alice -Beth Kanter, Author and nonprofit innovator -Walle Mafolasire, Founder, Givelify -Teresa Younger, CEO and President, Ms. Foundation for Women
The question is being asked all over the internet: why, oh why, are we following men?
For the sake of humanity, the only sensible thing to do right now seems to be to turn off the toxic male leaders, like literally stop broadcasting the President’s updates, and turn on the women leaders of the world who can get us through this crisis.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to pivot away from men’s leadership, especially here in the U.S. They are entrenched at the top, and seem to become more teflon as they ascend to higher levels of authority.
Why are women better leaders for this moment in human history? Let me count the layers of experience that result in women being the better leaders during COVID or any health crisis:
If you ask your little Amazon robot this question, she responds with a female mathematician, a woman scientist, a labor rights activist–and tells you all about them!
You can also tell Alexa, “Happy International Women’s Day!” to hear information on lady trailblazers like architect Zaha Hadid, environmental scientist Rachel Carson, and activist Dolores Huerta.
“Our goal is to showcase some examples of the far-ranging impact women have had on all aspects of culture, and inspire women and girls to be their own trailblazers,” said Lilian Rincon, Google Assistant’s Senior Director of Product Management, in an interview with USA Today.
Philanthropy Plugged In: Exploring new research on gender, technology and giving
On April 21, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute will launch our Women Give 2020 report along with the Philanthropy Plugged In podcast series dedicated to exploring technology, gender and giving. Also included in the release is a new video and other resources.
These themes are all the more relevant as people around the world are leveraging technology in new ways to reimagine community and stay connected.
Sasha Rabsey has heard the same story more than once. Most recently, she heard it at a conference, where a young woman presented on her work with trauma organizations. Her funding came from a series of high-level civil and private sector awards–enough to start ten different programs supporting women recovering from trauma in Latin America–but as the awards began to dry up, she found herself floundering for funding.
“I’ll take anything you can give me,” the young woman said, echoing scores of people Rabsey has worked with over the years. “If I don’t start winning more awards, we’re going to have to close more than half of our locations.”
We have known about gender injustice for centuries, yet only over the past one hundred years have we been more publicly working to end this vast inequality. The rights women have claimed, from voting rights to reproductive rights, have been hard fought and hard won. Undergirding all of those public battles, there has been the ongoing battle for a woman’s right to safety at home. Gender-based violence has plagued people for as long as we have written history, yet even during our current health pandemic, this social problem continues to be defined as a private issue.
One reason for this is that governments and those who create policy insist on spreading false narratives, such as the one recently sent out by the Malaysian government: Don’t nag your husbands during quarantine and social distancing. This form of misinformation does nothing to help women be safe. It allows violence against women to be blamed on women. Home is the most dangerous place for a woman, and violence against women is about power and control.
Editor’s Note: The following essay is by Tory Dietel Hopps, Managing Partner of Dietel & Partners, where she assists grantees with strategies, resource development and capacity building.
As the past weeks have unfolded, I have found myself thinking about the choices I will make regarding what I will not go back to after COVID-19. I believe that we are essentially having a dress rehearsal for what must be our new normal. This pandemic has made it abundantly clear that as a human race, we are truly globally interconnected.
This has been the message of climate activists for decades, but the esoteric nature of those conversations clearly were not getting us to move quickly enough. It took a real life and death situation to make us realize we can change our behavior on a dime if we need and want to. We have an opportunity to come out of this pandemic with a new normal where we don’t go back to how we functioned before. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to squander.
How do we respond in uncertain times? A colleague shared these lines from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: ‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’
I have found the simple principles that underlie what we do at Women Moving Millions – Learn, Listen, Connect, and Collaborate – to be valuable tools to guide us towards gender equality and to keep us grounded. In these times of uncertainty, this framework works for me as I try to make sense of my own emotions and how best I can share my skills in this world. Ironically, a month ago, I wrote an article titled, ‘Discovering the Highest and Best Use of my Worth’, and today, it seems more relevant than ever before.
Beth Ellen Holimon’s mission throughout most of her career has been helping women. For the past five years, she has led Dining for Women, dedicated to eradicating poverty in the developing world for girls and women and achieving gender equity. DFW educates approximately 8500 member donors on the underlying issues contributing to women’s inequality. Under Holimon’s leadership as President and CEO, the global giving circle has grown to 500 chapters throughout the U.S.
Each month, DFW selects a charity to receive funding though a rigorous vetting process. The organization’s grant making is guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Holimon emphatically asks: “What woman around the world doesn’t want their children to have the very best education, be provided with safe birth options, address climate change, safeguard themselves and their children from domestic violence and acknowledge issues of aging?”