While some feminist thought leaders such as Chief Executive of Women’s World Banking of Ghana, Charlotte Baidoo, are calling on microfinance institutions to do more when it comes to lending to women, Root Capital is beginning a new partnership with the Australian Government to do just that.
Root Capital will partner with the Australian Government’s program, Investing in Women, to deploy $2 million AUD (approximately $1.49 million U.S. dollars) in a ten-year program to support women business owners in South East Asia. As a partner of Investing in Women, Root Capital plans to bring in private sector co-investments for women’s small and medium-sized agricultural businesses in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
While there has been a recent rise in the number of women running for offices across the United States, the journey towards gender equality in politics is not moving fast enough. Statistics shown in a recent paper written by Saskia Brechenmacher, an associate fellow in Carnegie’s Democracy and Rule of Law Program, prove that gender equality in politics is still far from reach, yet many European countries have come significantly closer to this goal. Brechenmacher’s paper provides research about the efforts of such countries and identified moves the United States can make to reach gender equality sooner.
There’s the philanthropy that happens when people invest money to promote social change, and then there’s the philanthropy that happens when people take their money and their talent, and employ them in a way that addresses a social problem. Celebrities, particularly multi-talented and highly educated ones, have a unique capacity to combine their financial capital, talent, and public stature in order to push for needed social change.
That appears to be part of what happened when Israeli-American filmmaker Sigal Avin teamed up with several feature actors including David Schwimmer, Cynthia Nixon and Bobby Cannavale, to film a series of six short films called, “That’s Harassment.” In each of these three to six minute cinéma verité shorts, the viewer is positioned as a cringing voyeur while scenes of sexual harassment unfold. Since debuting in the spring of 2017, these films have been adapted into 30 second public service announcements that are getting wide visibility.
Yesterday, International Women’s Day, was packed with events acknowledging the value of women in the world and calling for more women’s leadership across all sectors. It was also a great day to celebrate the role that gender equality movements are increasingly playing in social change that advances peace and justice for humanity. Here are just 5 of the philanthropy-related happenings that made #IWD2018 a significant day of partying for women’s equality:
Last evening, I had the pleasure of being a panelist on Take the Lead Virtual Happy Hour, hosted by Gloria Feldt. The topic for discussion was The Many Faces of Love: How Women & Philanthropy Can Change the World. Here are my responses:
What are the challenges for you in philanthropy?
Like everyone, my challenges are fundraising. I knew when I launched Philanthropy Women, I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed key stakeholders, so reached out for support from women who I knew who wanted to grow the sector of media attention for gender equality philanthropy.
With every day in America bringing news of regressive political changes that will negatively impact women, it’s important for those who want to increase gender equality to explore different strategies for reaching women who need resources. One strategy that recently caught my eye was Grameen America’s announcement that, in celebration of its 10-year anniversary in the U.S., it would enter the fray of impact investing and disburse an added $11 million in capital in microloans to low-income women across the country. With this new fund, over a five-year period, Grameen will make $140 million in loans to low-income women who are struggling to get a foothold in the U.S. economy as entrepreneurs.
A new report from Oxfam takes a hard look at our growing inequality problems, and outlines steps that governments and businesses can take to work toward a more equitable and healthy economy.
Endorsed by several experts in development and labor, the report also has a section devoted to addressing the overlap between “economic and gender inequality” that looks at how the gender wealth gap plays out in women having less land ownership and other assets, and observes that “the neoliberal economic model has made this worse – reductions in public services, cuts to taxes for the richest, and a race to the bottom on wages and labour rights have all hurt women more than men.”
One of our goals at Philanthropy Women is to explore different ways to invest in reducing the gender gap and building a better economy — ways that operate in both philanthropy and in regular business markets. Alongside gender lens grantmaking, progressive women donors also have another important way they can deploy their capital for gender justice: gender lens investing.
One new investment instrument that recently came to our attention is BRAVA Investments, headed by CEO Nathalie Molina Niño, with partners Trevor Neilson and J. Todd Morley. BRAVA is not primarily focused on supporting women owned start-ups or getting more women into the c-suite of corporations (though this is something they look at), but on investing in industries that economically benefit employees or consumers that are disproportionately women.
Great news for the gender lens investing sector — 2017 brought a massive 41% increase in public market securities that use gender lens strategies.
A report entitled Gender Lens Investing: Investment Options in the Public Markets produced by Veris Wealth Partners has the details. Suzanne Biegel, Founder of Catalyst At Large, is credited with collaborating and gathering the information used in the analysis, this being her second year working in partnership with Veris Wealth Partners to create the public market scan. The study pulls together information from over 23 gender lens investment instruments produced by a wide range of financial companies including Barclay’s, Pax Ellevate, State Street Global Investors, ThirtyNorth Investments, Morgan Stanley, and others.
The holiday season means different things to all of us, but one meaning I would like to suggest we share this holiday season is a renewed dedication to self-care.
The idea of self-care can seem trite, but it is definitely not all about getting manicures. When I work with clients in my therapy practice, I like to help them widen their definition of self-care to include acts large and small that we can do to bring ourselves to a healthier place emotionally and physically. Here are a few examples from my life:
Look through the gender lens at your own life, and realize that the holidays might mean extra work for you as a woman. Explore ways to delegate holiday work to those around you who are able to give with their time and attention.
Re-read a familiar book that helps to reset your mind. My book is Diary of A Nobody by George and Weedon Grosssmith. Reading it is like rinsing my brain with a conditioner that take out some of the toxicity and negativity of daily life.
Watch a sit-com or other TV/film that helps shift you into a more neutral state, if you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Cute animal videos can also do the trick.
Do 10 minutes of unscheduled aerobic exercise. Get your heart rate up, and then feel how it makes your brain work differently. (If you are in some work environments, this sometimes needs to be done in the bathroom to avoid undue scrutiny. Yes, I did aerobics and yoga in the bathroom at corporate jobs.)
Linger longer over an activity you enjoy. Bake or cook alone or with others. Play games. Go out to dinner. Take a walk. Feel glad about the value of your solitude as well as the value of your relationships, and find time at the holidays to celebrate both.
Take selfies. Paris Hilton may have invented the Selfie, but I’m inventing the selfie for self-care. Be your own model for pictures of good moments in life. Take more selfies at the holidays, to reinforce the experience of enjoying yourself a moment.
In particular for women in philanthropy, an important component of self-care involves investing in and amplifying our vision for a more loving and tolerant world. Use the holiday season to contemplate new ideas for your vision of a better world. Take time to imagine how your ideas might evolve, and allow your intuition to guide you about how to pursue them.