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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Today is a remarkable day in American history, particularly for survivors of sexual assault. Today, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, bringing to light her experiences with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his alleged attempt to rape her while they were in high school. “Brett’s assault on me drastically changed my life,” she stated, and went on to recount the many ways that her life was changed by the trauma.
Both the Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions are in Seattle today, meeting with their members. The Women Moving Millions event is co-hosted by the Gates Foundation, and both groups will be meeting up to discuss their work in the evening at the Gates Foundation.
One might wonder if this is an indicator of the increasing involvement of the Gates Foundation in gender equality philanthropy. And, in fact, the evening will close with a cocktail hour for the Women’s Funding Network hosted by Women Moving Millions at the Gates Foundation, so there will be some time for the three networks to compare notes.
Just how sexist is the state you live in? As it turns out, we live in a relatively low-sexism state, Rhode Island, whereas states like Utah, Arkansas, and Alabama have some of the highest rates of “mean overall sexism,” as reported in a new study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago.
The title of the paper is “The Effects of Sexism on American Women: The Role of Norms vs. Discrimination,” which boils down to these findings:
The paper explains that sexist beliefs, especially those embedded early in life, have a significant impact on a woman’s ability to earn and to move up the social class ladder.
Both sexism in your birth state and in the state you live currently impact your wages and likelihood of having a job if you are a woman. Background sexism, the type of sexism a woman experiences as a girl, impact a woman’s outcomes “even after she is an adult living in another place through the influence of norms that she internalized during her formative years.”
Residential sexism, the sexism a woman experiences where she currently lives, impacts wages and job opportunities, due to male-dominated markets practicing discrimination.
Prejudice-based discrimination, founded on prevailing sexist beliefs and cultural norms that vary across states, drive lower wages and less job opportunities for women.
This study is helpful to have handy in case anyone tries to make the argument that the playing field is level for women in the United States. In fact, the playing field is full of major pits and grooves and is still giving men a decided advantage in the job markets. We have a long way to go before we are anywhere near leveling the playing field for women.
Here’s some disturbing news: a male academic who appeared to be a strong ally of feminism, Michael Kimmel, is facing serious charges of sexual exploitation and other inappropriate behavior.
It’s always extra disturbing when this happens with someone who is considered an ally of feminism, so be prepared to have a full range of emotional reactions to this story.
As you sort through your anger, sadness, confusion, and feelings of betrayal, don’t forget to recognize how this is also a positive story about how women are speaking up and changing the game. Exposing these problems will help prevent future abuse and exploitation, particularly in academia. With the number of women in leadership increasing toward critical mass in different professional sectors, we may hear a lot more reports coming out like those about Michael Kimmel.
“I think supporting girls and women’s organizations is the greatest hope we have for worldwide transformative change – and my philanthropic choices are grounded in that belief,” said celebrity and activist Emma Watson, at a convening on July 10 in London, sponsored by NoVo Foundation, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy and Ariadne.
Watson also noted that research across seventy countries concludes that women’s movements are the key factor in enacting policy change. “This makes it all the more shocking that a survey of European foundations found that less than 5 percent of funds were targeted towards girls and women.”
A new round of grants from the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation demonstrates how the foundation is employing its strategy of reaching girls and women both in the Washington D.C. area and in Israel.
The Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation was created in 2004 to improve the lives of Jewish women and girls, both in Washington D.C. and in Israel. Co-founders Robin Hettlemen Weinberg and Liza Levy realized that in order to make an impact, they needed to combine their efforts and coordinate more with other philanthropists to accomplish their goals. Their mission, to change and better the lives of women and girls, both locally in Washington D.C. and in Israel, is being carried out in diverse ways through their grantmaking.