Over the past few years, the #MeToo movement has brought to light the rampant issues of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence that plague many of our communities. Mainstream media has primarily focused on sexual violence and harassment in high-profile industries, such as entertainment, sports, journalism, higher education, and the corporate world.
But the populations most disproportionately affected by sexual violence and harassment are often the same ones that go underserved, both financially and by media coverage. These populations include women of color, trans and nonbinary women, women with disabilities and/or mental illnesses, immigrants and migrants, socioeconomically disadvantaged women, indigenous women, and incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women, among others. Many of these women work in industries where sexual violence is prevalent and often ignored, such as domestic work, restaurants, and hospitality. Workers in these industries often go without the labor protections that can serve as a partial buffer against sexual exploitation.
Do major league sports leaders have a responsibility to model respect for women in everything they do? This question is fresh on the minds of many due to Robert Kraft, philanthropist and owner of the New England Patriots, being charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute in Florida, where he was allegedly engaging in sex acts with women at Orchids of Asia Salon.
Through his philanthropy, Robert Kraft has funded initiatives specifically aimed at ending sexual exploitation of women and girls. USA Today reports that Kraft gave $100,000 in 2015 to My Life, My Choice, a Boston-based organization that works on ending child sex trafficking. Some might ask how the same man can be both perpetrating sexual exploitation and funding initiatives to end it.
The subject of female genital mutilation (FGM) — the practice of removing a female’s clitoris, sometimes accompanied by sewing together her labia — rarely makes it into the mainstream news, so recent public awareness campaigns like February 6th’s #EndFGM campaign are helping to put it on the agenda.
Ending FGM is central to movements for women to be free to direct their own lives both in the U.S. and abroad. Feminist philanthropists have been working on this issue for decades, and now, with legislation passing to criminalize the practice, there is more potential than ever to realize some bigger gains.
Despite the prevalence of the sexual exploitation of women and girls, gender-based violence funding accounts for just 1.8% of all foundation giving. And even within that small percentage, the majority of funds go to domestic violence, with commercial sexual exploitation often remaining neglected.
To bridge that crucial gap, the NoVo Foundation recently announced a $10 million, 3-year funding commitment for U.S.-based programs. The funding will go to programs that are aimed at “opening exit ramps” and “closing on-ramps” to the commercial sex trade–or, as it’s often called, The Life.
Women are cracking the glass ceiling and making it into top leadership positions amid the #MeToo Movement, according to new research, but the distribution of female replacements varies by geography and social sector.
In an article in the Houston Chronicle, authors Yan Zhang and Yoon Jung Kwon, a professor and Ph.D. student at Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business, argue that the phenomena of women replacing men in leadership roles holds great potential for signaling all sectors of society about changing gender norms. Even in heavily male-dominated sectors like major league men’s sports, a new era is dawning in which women’s leadership will provide a different paradigm.
Cynthia Marshall was hired as the new CEO of the Dallas Mavericks last February, with the mission to clean up the toxic culture of the franchise.
Marshall’s appointment at the time was not an anomaly. According to data recently compiled by the New York Times, the #MeToo movement has brought down 201 powerful men (and three powerful women). Among the 98 men whose positions have been filled, half of their replacements were women. However, the percentage of female replacements was lower in Republican states than in Democratic states, and it was lower in government, politics and businesses than in media, entertainment and education.
An important point here for women donors to contemplate: moves like that of the Dallas Mavericks bring the #MeToo movement into the popular culture domain through sports, and this may be an effective way to create visible leaders for gender equality that contribute significantly to social change.
The research also highlights an important problem: women in the fields of government, politics and business need more opportunities to rise into leadership positions. Feminist philanthropists are uniquely positioned to push for this in the companies that they own or invest in, and by contributing to PACs, women candidates, and organizations supporting the government and business leadership pipelines for women.
Back to the article:
Replacing accused men with women amid the #MeToo movement offers important benefits to the institutions where the scandals were uncovered.
First and foremost, replacing an accused man with a woman immediately sends a signal to external and internal constituents that the institution is going to change its culture. Second, since most victims of the #MeToo movement are women, it is easier for a female replacement than a male to connect with the victims based upon their gender similarity.
In the case of the Mavs, minutes after accepting the job offer, Marshall joined the team’s owner Mark Cuban for a news conference, in which she told the media, “I want to do it for the sisterhood.” Such a commitment to the “sisterhood” is unlikely to be made by a male replacement. The connection between a female replacement and the victims can help the institution repair its stigmatized image and damaged relationships with constituents.
Seriously, try to imagine anyone other than a woman taking a CEO position and saying they are going to do it “for the sisterhood.” This kind of leadership sends major shock waves through the culture and helps shift our understanding of what it means to be a leader.
By finding ways to link women’s empowerment and safety with cultures that are known for being particularly male-dominated, like major league men’s sports, feminist philanthropists may find unique opportunities to create awareness and foster social change.
After an extensive search and interview process, Women Moving Millions (WMM) recently announced the appointment of Sarah Haacke Byrd as its new Executive Director. Byrd is an influential rising star of the feminist philanthropy community known for being a “joyful warrior” in the ongoing battle for gender equality. Byrd also comes to her new position at WMM with a history of leadership focused on legislative changes that would make the processing of rape kits a necessity in all police investigations of sexual assault.
As the former Managing Director of the Joyful Heart Foundation, Sarah Haacke Byrd has played a critical role in movement-building around ending sexual violence. With her work at Joyful Heart, Byrd helped to convene a national community of sexual violence survivors, legislators, law enforcement, and major funders, to shed light on the frightening fact that rape kits frequently go untested. Byrd helped raise an estimated $169 million in new funding to address this lack of testing of rape kits, resulting in the passage of 35 laws in 26 states.
Founded in 2007 by sisters Helen LaKelly Hunt and Swanee Hunt, Women Moving Millions is focused on supporting women donors who are making large-scale investments in women and girls that are aiding in the global fight for gender equality. By taking on this key leadership role at WMM, Byrd will be steering one of the most significant and powerful networks for funding gender equality worldwide.
Earlier this year, Byrd testified before the California Legislature regarding legislation to mandate the processing of rape kits. This legislation passed in the House and Senate in California, and is only being held up by the Governor’s veto for budgetary reasons, so will likely proceed to a full pass in the near future. Byrd’s testimony is a powerful sample of how effectively she communicates within the political realm, and how well this bodes for the future leadership of Women Moving Millions. It’s also an excellent example of how philanthropy can aid in the process of gathering and disseminating critical information about a public safety issue, such as sexual violence, and push for needed reforms.
New Board Chair of Women Moving Millions Bring Financial Expertise
Along with WMM having a new Executive Director, the organization also has a new Board Chair: Mona Sinha, who is a passionate and longtime advocate for women and girls and the recipient of Smith College’s 2018 Development Award for Exemplary Leadership. Sinha is also very involved in efforts to end sex trafficking, and received the The Last Girl Champion award in 2017 from Apne Aap, an organization working globally on the issue.
Sinha brings particular expertise from the corporate worlds of finance, marketing and business restructuring. She is also is co-founder of Raising Change, which coaches mission-driven organizations to raise resources for social change.
As incoming Board Chair at WMM, Sinha is looking forward to launching a new education curriculum for members, who will spend several days together to work on three areas of development: impact, influence, and investment. “Each pillar will be taught in small cohorts that do a deep dive into the subject matter and enable robust reflection and discussion about practices and innovative ideas that are emerging in the world of philanthropy,” writes Sinha in a recent brief on the education curriculum launch entitled Why Women’s Philanthropic Education Matters.
Sinha sees this new education curriculum as having the potential to fulfill a prediction by the Stanford Social Innovation Review that the impact of gender equity efforts will add $28 trillion to the global economy by 2025. “Match that with the fact that women will control over $72 trillion in wealth by 2020,” writes Sinha, and she sees many more large-scale investments from women aiming to close the gender gap on pay and improve health and safety for women.
But Sinha recognizes that women philanthropists making these large-scale investments need support and education to achieve this goal. Within the new education curriculum, donors will have an opportunities to clarify and amplify their strategies, bringing greater integrity and influence to feminist philanthropy. “We have found that WMM members benefit from learning in community,” she writes. In the upcoming education curriculum launching in February of 2019, Women Moving Millions members will have the chance to more deeply investigate and structure their giving for women and girls. The development of the leadership curriculum was led by Jessica Houssian at WMM and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including a detailed assessment before a full rollout of the program.
Sinha also serves several other organizations in the gender equality sphere including, Breakthrough (ending violence against women), Direct Impact Africa (empowers women to be leaders in the lower Zambezi) the Advisory boards at the Museum of Natural History (sponsors science education for inner city girls), Columbia Business School Tamer Center Social Enterprise Program (building awareness of social justice in future business leaders), Women Creating Change at Columbia University, and Columbia Global Mental Health program (promoting mental health as integral to overall healthcare around the world).
This is just a quick post before taking a few days off to enjoy time with family and friends. We will be covering several important events in upcoming posts, including a fascinating call on Gender Alpha with Suzanne Biegel and David Bank, where they discussed how “Gender Alpha” is all about identifying the specific dividends that gender lens investing yields. Biegel and Bank are co-producers of November’s Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London. Guests on the call included Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris Wealth Partners, which specializes in gender lens investing and research.
And one other quick note to acknowledge the significance of the recent elections, where voter turnout was higher than it has been in 104 years. That’s right — the last time voter turnout was as high as it was in 2018 was in 1914, before women even had the right to vote. Now that women and millennials are getting into the driver’s seat with social change, we hope to see even better voter turnout in 2020. I don’t know about you, but I am mighty thankful that people are finally getting the message (it seems!) about the importance of civic engagement. That could mean in 2020 we elect a President that gets us back on track in terms of valuing safety, diversity, and systems change to address inequality.
Coming up soon, we’ll also be providing some news on Women Moving Millions and its new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, and will be sharing and discussing WMM new Board Chair Mona Sinha’s Education Curriculum for WMM members, which will be launching in February.
A great deal of emphasis in feminist philanthropy is placed on women, and changing the role of women in society. But what about men? What role can men play in challenging gender norms, and what initiatives are gender equality organizations taking to reach men?
To further explore these questions, I spoke to Giovanna Lauro, Vice President of Programs and Research at Promundo, by telephone from her D.C. office. Promundo was founded in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1997, working with young men in Rio’s poorest communities on transforming gender norms and concepts of masculinity. It has since taken that approach far beyond Brazil, and its website notes, “Promundo works to promote gender equality and create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls.”
The organization’s expansion from the global South to global North makes it an anomaly, as many NGOs start in wealthy countries and then move into less developed nations. Regardless, Lauro says that there is a commonality to the organization’s work, wherever it takes place, namely, “a frustration with the limits of putting the burden of change on women and girls only.” One can work to empower women and girls all one wants, but it’s a tough mandate without change occurring among the other half of the population.
Promundo’s Washington, D.C. office opened in 2011, allowing the organization to expand its reach globally to more than 40 nations. To date, Promundo’s projects and technical assistance have reached roughly 10 million individuals, including over 4,500 health professionals, 22,000 educators, 1,400 members of the police and military, and 300 government officials.
The emphasis on masculinities—what it means to be a man—separates Promundo from many NGOs in the gender-equity field. Lauro argues that continued female empowerment requires men and boys to see themselves as allies and partners, not adversaries. Moreover, change is not a zero-sum game; men and boys also gain in many ways when rigid attitudes toward gender are challenged.
Promundo’s “Manhood 2.0” project, developed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, aims to prevent teen dating violence by engaging young males aged 15-24 in understanding the effects of harmful gender norms. Manhood 2.0 is modelled on Promundo’s Program H (named after homens and hombres, the Portuguese and Spanish words for men) which launched in 2002. Employed by Promundo and its partners in 34 countries worldwide, Program H is based on research with young Brazilian men who exhibited more gender-equitable attitudes than others in their demographic cohort. Men expressing less rigid attitudes around gender roles typically have peer group support in this area, positive personal experiences around gender equality, and male role models who express support for gender equality.
Stereotypical and rigidly enforced conceptions of gender are toxic to all. Statistics indicate the high rate of male violence against women, but it’s not as if men are untouched by violence. They are twice as likely as women to die of suicide, and comprise over three-quarters of homicide victims in the U.S. The large number of male lives lost in wars and other armed conflicts goes without saying. Research by Promundo and other organizations indicates that many of these negative outcomes have their basis in overly rigid conceptions of masculinity. Promundo’s report “Masculine Norms and Violence: Making the Connections” explores this relationship.
Engaging Men Through Pre-Natal Programs and Soccer
Engaging with young men in the U.S. and abroad around harmful gender norms is a noble goal, but how does one lead the male horse to the trough of gender equity? Firstly, Promundo identifies local partners who can make a difference. “Find a facilitator who believes in what they preach,” says Lauro, “someone who has shown a commitment or potential for working for gender equality.” Next, she says, it’s vital to “incorporate contextual intervention” in recruiting and retaining participants. In other words, don’t place an announcement for a gender-equity workshop in the local paper and expect men to rush the doors. Lauro notes two specific angles that Promundo has tried: fatherhood and soccer.
In Chile (and other locales) sessions on gender norms have been rolled into pre-natal programs for first-time dads. Fatherhood, family, child-rearing and gender norms are intertwined, and Lauro notes that a group for expectant fathers can function as “a place where men can have meaningful discussion around gender and express themselves in a safe space.” Promundo is a sponsor of the State of the World’s Fathers report series examining men’s contributions to parenting and caregiving globally. These are published as part of the Men Care (“a global fatherhood campaign”) which Promundo co-founded and coordinates.
Sports is another approach used by Promundo to recruit young men to explore gender-equity and masculinity. The study “Engaging men to prevent gender-based violence” sponsored by Promundo and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women documents a Brazilian program that used soccer to engage men around the issue of gender-based violence. According to the report, “Sports, particularly weekly football (soccer) matches were used as a venue for dialogue and an opportunity to convey the themes of the workshops.” The same report also details programs aimed at understanding and combating gender-based violence that were organized around the workplace (Rwanda), the health sector (Chile), and the community (India). Regardless of the setting, scale or target of the intervention, “We focus on building local partnerships with local organizations,” says Lauro.
The only places where Promundo implements projects directly using its own staff is on its home turf of Brazil, the United States, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where in 2014 Promundo co-founded the NGO Living Peace with local partners. In Eastern DRC, Promundo has worked to promote gender equity in the wake of a brutal conflict which resulted in millions of people being injured, killed, and displaced. The DRC is notable for a very high level of sexual violence, not just as part of the armed conflict, but also in the home and elsewhere. Promundo’s outreach has sought to combat the prevalence of attitudes and practices, including ones about masculinity, which had embedded gender violence so deeply in that society. “We take into account trauma and how this affects behavior,” says Lauro.
Measuring Concrete Change
Promoting gender equity is not easy, and approaches must vary. She notes that sometimes norms change, and then drive a change in behavior. Other times a behavior—which might be encouraged by a public policy like parental leave for both women and men—can produce a change in attitudes, which subsequently influences behavior, and so on. It is not always easy to separate cause and effect. Regardless, the Italian-born Lauro, who has a Ph.D. in political science from Oxford, and previously served as Associate Director of the Women and Population Programme on behalf of the United Nations Foundation, believes in the power of research. “Our goal is to ensure that we can measure concrete change around attitudes, behaviors and norms,” she says.
To this end, Promundo and the International Center for Research on Women have created the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). This household survey probes men’s and women’s practices and attitudes around gender norms, gender-equality policies, care-work distribution, intimate partner violence, health, economic stress and other issues facing women, men, and families. As of 2017, notes Lauro, IMAGES and IMAGES-inspired studies have been administered to more than 40,000 men and 20,000 women in nearly 40 countries. Moreover, Lauro describes the IMAGES survey as an “open source” tool which “can be used by local organizations to inform their own work.”
Promundo uses research not just to take the temperature of a given community regarding gender-equity, sexual violence and other topics, but also to evaluate whether the programs that it and its partners sponsor are having an impact. Do they really produce a change in attitudes and practices? How, I wondered, can one know if a program simply teaches its participants to talk a good game about gender equity to researchers, but leave the reality unchanged?
Lauro notes that a rigorous attempt to gauge the impact of programs and interventions requires more than asking participants easily-answered questions. “From our research, we know that when we word questions in the positive, everyone answers the politically correct ‘yes.’” In other words, asking, “Do you support equality between men and women?” is likely to elicit positive answers, but more authentic responses come from creative questions. “For example,” says Lauro, “we don’t ask ‘have you ever beaten your partner?’ Instead, we ask, ‘how often have you beaten your partner?’” The idea is to remove the cues that would push respondents toward the “correct” response. Furthermore, says Lauro, to corroborate the trends highlighted in men’s responses, women are surveyed as well to find out if they have noticed a reduction in violence. Finally, notes Lauro, “At times we employ a control group which helps isolate the impact of the intervention.” This commitment to research has helped Promundo weed out or modify interventions which have been ineffective in promoting change.
Lauro has a long history of work in this area, including her Ph.D. thesis, which addressed the double standard of European governments toward the global South on harmful gender norms. The Europeans would advocate for women’s rights in Africa or Asia, but at home would use contentious gender issues as a wedge to demonize or punish immigrant communities rather than protect women. Lauro recommends that issues such as child or forced marriage, wherever it occurs, be “framed first and foremost as a human rights issue rather than a cultural practice.”
Promundo works with NGOs and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. These stakeholders have partnered with Promundo, or adopted their programs and implemented them in communities around the world. Promundo receives funding from bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, international NGOs, and individuals. A range of feminist-friendly foundations also support Promundo, “There is a large pool of funders committed to combating gender-based violence,” says Lauro. Other foundations, she notes, are more interested in thematic work on fatherhood and caregiving, gender and youth, or the ramifications for women of large-scale conflict resulting from local gangs, or from ethnic, tribal, national or other differences. Regardless, funding and advocacy around male conceptions of masculinity and gender represents an important part of the fight for gender equality.
Within the past year, the Women’s Media Center reports that coverage of #MeToo in the mainstream media has grown significantly. As awareness about the detrimental effects of sexual assault continues to grow in our culture, the New York Women’s Foundation is fostering real efforts to aid #MeToo survivors. In May of 2018, the foundation created the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies, and now that fund has made $840,000 in its first round of grant funding. This is a collaborative effort, housed and managed by The New York Women’s Foundation, with the grantmaking decisions being made jointly with Tarana Burke, founder and leader of the #MeToo Movement.
Ms. Burke announced the first recipients of grants from the Fund for The Me Too Movement and Allies. “The money we are awarding today will undoubtedly make an impact in the work to end sexual violence because all eight organizations are doing tremendous work,” said Burke, in a press release announcing the new grants. Burke noted that all chosen grantee organizations are not only helping survivors of sexual violence, they are also “combating deeply-rooted systemic issues that allow it to persist across all our communities.”
In keeping with the core feminist philanthropy principle of inclusion, the Fund prioritized organizations “led by and for communities of color that give voice to women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.” The first grant recipients are:
Everyday, it seems, some new subgroup is taking ownership of the #MeToo hashtag to create a movement of their own. The latest in this growing series of movements: girls. Today, Girls Inc., one of the country’s oldest nonprofits dedicated to helping girls, announced the launch of a new campaign called #GirlsToo, which will work to address gender-based violence against girls, including sexual harassment and assault.
#GirlsToo will take an approach that challenges gender norms for youth. “Sexual harassment and violence is an epidemic facing adults, but the problem starts at a much younger age,” said Judy Vredenburgh, president and CEO of Girls Inc. “The #GirlsToo campaign will focus on building a culture of respect for girls today and generations to come.”
The announcement was coupled with some sobering facts about just how prevalent sexual harassment is among high school girls. Young girls ages 14 to 19 report report that they hear boys making sexual comments “at least several times a week,” and the majority do not feel safe most of the time in society.
Accompanying the launch is a pledge that both youth and adult can take at girlstoo.girlsinc.org in order to increase their advocacy for gender equality and working to promote the dignity of girls. The campaign also provides resources for girls, boys, parents and educators about how to discuss harassment and abuse in order to feed healthy change in communities.