Jaana Rehnström: Bigger Not Always Better, Especially for Women

Dr. Jaana Rehnström, Founder and President of the Kota Alliance, an organization fostering international collaboration for women-centered nonprofits, recently authored an article that struck a deep chord with me. Readers here at Philanthropy Women will also likely feel a strong resonance with Dr. Rehnström’s words.

Dr. Rehnström begins by summarizing the current status of gender equality in the world:

Dr. Jaana Rehnström, Founder and President of the Kota Alliance, discusses the need for funders to step up for women and girls if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. (Image Credit: Kota Alliance)

Gender equality has been talked about in Europe and the United States since the late 1800s. The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972, falling short of state ratifications by the original deadline. The CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) was adopted in 1979. The 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and SDG #5 commits governments to take measures to comply by 2030.

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What if Only Women Voted in the 2020 Election?

The question came up in my mind, and I see many other people have been tossing this question around in conversations online: What if only women voted in the 2020 election? Would it have been a much easier win for the Biden-Harris presidency?

2020 Election Results for Women Voters

2020 election
This image from the Washington Post helps illustrate the point: if only women voted in the 2020 election, it would have been a much easier win for Biden. The key states of Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania would have all been sure wins, as well as many other states. (Image credit: Washington Post)

The above graphic says it all. In the 14 states listed above and in many others, Biden would have won handily.

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Anybody Got a Spare $6.3 Billion to Fund Women and Girls?

I was doing some thinking on the funding-of-women quandary. What the Women’s Philanthropy Institute helpfully taught us was that as of 2016, funding specifically for women and girls in the U.S. is at 6.3 billion a year, comprising 1.6% of total philanthropy funding.

That’s not enough, as we explain here.

6.3 billion
Photo by Monica Melton on Unsplash

It’s unclear whether this giving has increased under Trump’s tenure. It’s also unclear whether this type of giving will face new barriers in the COVID economy. Therefore, one has to wonder what we should be doing to try to bridge the gap between the conversation about funding women and girls, and the actual doing of it.

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Feminist Donors: The Way to the Future

It’s always great to see your name up in lights, particularly at such a highly esteemed publication as Women’s eNews. Alyssa Fisher, the 2020 fellow in the Sy Syms Journalistic Excellence Program at Women’s eNews called me up and let me have a great riffing session on what it’s like to be at the helm of our small but mighty publication, Philanthropy Women, and what I see feminist donors doing for the world that no one else is doing.

feminist donors
(Image Credit: WMM)

From the article:

The idea to launch  a website dedicated to women in philanthropy first came to Kiersten Marek in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was anticipated to win the presidential election and become the United State’s first woman president. When she launched it the following  year, it felt even more pertinent. 

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When Women’s Leadership Has Market Value, the World Changes

It seems, in the feminist philanthropy community, everyone is waiting for that tipping point to come, when women’s leadership finally establishes its value to the world. Covid, it seems, is helping to accelerate our awareness of the added value of women’s leadership. By showing that countries led by women having strikingly better COVID survival and containment rates, we should finally be at that point where you could practically pour the product of women’s leadership into a bottle and sell it on the open market.

And now a few words from our Editor in Chief, Kiersten Marek.

Well, think again. I have been on my own quest to establish the value of women’s leadership, particularly women’s leadership in philanthropy, over the past four years. I went in with the theory that feminist strategies are more powerful strategies, and once people get to know more about them, lots of folks would flock to our website and build up our subscriber base to the point where, eventually, it might even turn into a for-profit market product. Though fiscally sponsored by the Women’s Funding Network, our budget and strategy is built around the idea that only a small portion of our funding should come from grants, and that as our subscriber base grows, eventually, we could become attractive to a regular small business publication or larger progressive media platform.

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Give for Women in COVID on May 5, #GivingTuesdayNow

With the world in a state of crisis and flux, the people at Giving Tuesday, which happens the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, have created another day of global unity, #GivingTuesdayNow, which will take place this Tuesday, May 5, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

women in covid
GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of unity to support people dealing with COVID-19. Here we share about how we are participating with a gender lens. (Image Credit: GivingTuesdayNow)

As editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, I will be participating in GivingTuesdayNow by supporting organizations that are particularly dedicated to women. We know from reports that women are crying out for help during this time, due to increased rates of domestic violence, increased problems with employment and income, and many other needs. In consultation with my family, these are the organizations we have chosen to support.

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Philanthropy Women Responds to COVID by Going FREE

Right now, what we need more than ever is feminist leadership to get us through the COVID crisis. 

That’s why we’re excited to share some BIG NEWS here at Philanthropy Women. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, a generous donor has provided extra support so that we can make registration for Premium Access to Philanthropy Women FREE for the next three months. (Editor’s Note: This special offer is now over.)

At Philanthropy Women, we will be working extra hard to be a resource for the feminist giving community on best practices to get us through the COVID crisis. We will work to generate ideas and share news that will help us make system-wide changes that will address this crisis and prevent future crises of this proportion in the future.

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PW Update: Where We’re Going from Here

Time for a PW update about the future! We are now heading into our fourth year since our founding in January of 2017 here at Philanthropy Women. Starting and running PW has been a fascinating experience, and in an effort at radical business transparency, I’d like to fill you in on a little of the behind-the-scenes story of why we do what we do, and where we’re going.

Why Do We Do What We Do

Philanthropy Women was born out of my realization that very few people knew about the funders who have made gender equality a growing possibility in our world. Some 93% of these funders are women, and true to gender norms as women, they failed to promote their world-changing work.

the future of philanthropy women
Philanthropy Women celebrated its 3-year anniversary in January 2020. Where are we going from here?

This was a loss to society that I wanted to reconcile by showing what feminist givers looks like in real life. I also wanted to expand the definition of feminist giving to encompass a wide array of leaders at every level of society — from direct care workers to CEOs — who are giving their time, energy, and resources for the express purpose of seeing the world become more gender equal.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Women’s Giving Week in Review

The Good

Bill and Melinda Gates, Co-Chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation meeting with the Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, in New Delhi on September 19, 2014. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Melinda Gates Commits $1 Billion to Gender Equity in the U.S. : It’s a good day for women’s giving when one of the richest women in the world declares she will invest $1 billion over ten years (still not enough!) in new efforts to address gender equality. Not surprisingly, Melinda lays awake at night worrying about many of the same things I worry about:

Here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on. That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell instead of a sea change.

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What is Feminist Leadership?

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, Editor and Publisher of Philanthropy Women.

This short video features me discussing the five components that make up my definition of feminist leadership.

I made this video to participate in the Feminist Leadership Project’s series. If you’d like to participate in this project, you can go here for more details.

Hope you enjoy this video in which I describe my definition of feminist leadership.

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Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.

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