It’s an election like no other, with record numbers of women running for office at the local, state, and national levels, and women everywhere becoming activist voters who want to see themselves represented in government.
It’s a great time to be publishing about women’s philanthropy, as more women take on funding nonprofits that are supporting gender equality, not only in the U.S. but also globally. So far this year we’ve seen significant growth in new organizations committing to addressing gender-based violence and education for girls worldwide, including Girls, Inc, the Obama Foundation, and the #MeToo Fund headed by Tarana Burke.
The recent Kavanaugh hearings resurfaced a very old story about gender, power, and the truth of experience. When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testified, people everywhere had to grapple with the fact that early life relationships, and particularly sexual traumas, can drastically impact our lives.
In fact, while our dominant culture remains in denial about the prevalence and negative effects of sexual violence, thought leaders in feminist psychology and sociology have been calling attention to the problem for decades. While sexual violence is an extreme form of domination and abuse, these thought leaders have demonstrated how gender-based violence is part of a continuum of control and exploitation that most women begin to experience more of as they hit adolescence.
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.”
One thing is for sure: there are not enough financial supports out there for women. As a woman myself developing the sustainability of my publishing work, I am always on the look-out for ways to get a stronger foothold in my own business/nonprofit niche, and I know many women who are in the same boat. Banks and investors routinely discriminate against women entrepreneurs when giving small business loans and venture capital, so where can women entrepreneurs turn when they are angling to start successful small businesses?
With the advent of new technologies to accelerate donating money and distributing grants, giving circles are the cutting edge of how many communities are finding and funding their causes. Now, a significant group of giving circles and funders are coming together to enhance the potential for giving circles to impact the philanthropy landscape.
This new partnership is led by five giving circles and collective giving networks, many of which bring unique social and cultural foci to the collaboration. These five networks are coming together to “engage dozens of stakeholders across the philanthropic sector to design efficient and effective infrastructure to scale and strengthen the American giving circle movement.”
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.
After leading the DAFNA Fund in Israel for over 15 years, Hamutal Gouri has written an overview of how we can grow funding for feminist philanthropy and accelerate social change that is both inclusive and fair, and that engages the larger systems of government in new ways.
In the article, Gouri calls on leaders invested in Israel to do more to safeguard human rights and equality, which are under threat from growing religious and nationalist extremes. She then outlines the unequal status of women in Israel before offering her vision of the future steps needed. The article considers the particular concerns of Israel, including specific religious, security, and social justice contexts of the nation.
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, in recognition of International Day of the Girl, the Obama Foundation has announced the launch of a new initiative that will empower adolescent girls around the world through education.
The initiative aims to support more than 1,500 grassroots organizations around the world that reduce barriers to education for girls such as early marriage, limited access, and lack of financial resources.
Michelle Obama appeared on the Today Show to make the announcement, emphasizing that “The stats show that when you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country.”
If you are a woman who needs medical care, it often becomes crystal clear to you that the health care system doesn’t understand your problems very well. As celebrity chef and gender equality advocate Padma Lakshmi put it at the recent Social Good Summit in New York, when speaking about her own difficulties getting care for endometriosis: “I realized there was a lot of misogyny in the health care system.”
But hopefully as we progress in medicine, misogyny will be rooted out, and more doctors will learn how to attend to the full spectrum of women’s medical concerns. To aid in that process, a $10 million commitment was recently made by philanthropist Iris Cantor to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. These funds will be used to advance the medical school’s work to educate and train both clinicians and researchers in the field of women’s health care.