For the past 30 years, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has honored exceptional women in journalism, highlighting the courage of female journalists around the world as well as the groundbreaking journalists who have dedicated their careers to paving the way for female journalists of the future.
This week, IWMF announced the 2020 recipients of the 30th annual Courage in Journalism Awards, granted to female journalists who go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to reporting the truth. These women face down harassment, violence, government oppression, and more in their pursuit of journalistic integrity.
At first, Megha Desai thought there was no way girls and women would take to social media to tell stories about their first periods. But as education, dignity, and confidence grew in a small town in India, the local women and girls surprised her.
Four years ago, the Desai Foundation held an awareness campaign about menstrual health and hygiene in the small town of Untdi, Gujarat–the village Desai’s father grew up in.
“We had all these signs laid out on tables, saying things like ‘Happy to Bleed,’ ‘Proud to be a Woman,’ and ‘Proud of my Womanhood,” remembers Desai, President of the Desai Foundation. “I looked at those signs and I thought, ‘Nobody is going to hold these signs up. We’re in a tiny little village where no woman would talk about her period. But by the end of the campaign, the women and girls were so confident and proud that they posed for pictures with these signs. It blew me away. I thought to myself, if these girls in this little village can hold these signs and pledge their periods, then we ought to be able to do that, too.”
On May 21st, attendees gathered for IUPUI’s first webinar in the Perspectives on Philanthropy Discussion Series. The series asks, “As we search for context in our transforming world, what role does philanthropy play? Broadly understood to encompass the human voluntary spirit, philanthropy is responding in a variety of ways to the current global crisis today. How is it doing and what role will it have in the world that is emerging?”
On May 20th, get ready for a one-of-a-kind online event honoring female movers and shakers with some moving and shaking of your own. The first-ever Feminist Block Party is an online dance party and fundraiser for critical nonprofits and community organizations run by women of color, supporting those organizations in the nation’s communities most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women, Roar for Women: A Feminist Dance Partywill include notes from guest speakers, leaders from the Ms. Foundation, influencers, and organization spokespeople from across the country, including the 2020 Women of Vision Honorees.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sonal Sachdev Patel, writer, activist and CEO of GMSP Foundation.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
So much. I wish I had known to go straight to the grassroots. The civil society leaders on the frontlines know what their communities need and know how to deliver it. But they’re constrained by a funding environment that is too often inflexible, impatient and imperialistic in terms of who drives the agenda. When we started in 2006, we were giving project-based funds. After listening to our local partners, we shifted to unrestricted funding.
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 which will take place this Tuesday, May 5, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
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.
The far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 crisis appear as more than just devastating illness. Crop failures, locust swarms, and market shutdowns all combine to put African villages in further peril, and when it comes to fighting these widespread effects, the Pastoralist Child Foundation finds itself on the front lines.
The Pastoralist Child Foundation (PCF) is a nonprofit dedicated to ending female genital mutilation and forced marriages while empowering African women and girls to pursue education and leadership roles in their communities.
In the face of global crises, the poor and vulnerable always suffer the most. Globally, the majority of the poor and vulnerable are women and children. Women face rape, perpetual abuse, and violence in the face of war, political instability, and global pandemics like COVID-19. I am seeing this first-hand through our field training centers in rural India, where most villagers rely on daily wages to meet their basic needs.
We also work in states such as Bihar, where there is extensive corruption, lack of rule of law, and systemic violence against women. Through many disheartening calls and reports from our field staff, these are some of the ways that we are witnessing our trainees and villagers suffering the most:
We have known about gender injustice for centuries, yet only over the past one hundred years have we been more publicly working to end this vast inequality. The rights women have claimed, from voting rights to reproductive rights, have been hard fought and hard won. Undergirding all of those public battles, there has been the ongoing battle for a woman’s right to safety at home. Gender-based violence has plagued people for as long as we have written history, yet even during our current health pandemic, this social problem continues to be defined as a private issue.
One reason for this is that governments and those who create policy insist on spreading false narratives, such as the one recently sent out by the Malaysian government: Don’t nag your husbands during quarantine and social distancing. This form of misinformation does nothing to help women be safe. It allows violence against women to be blamed on women. Home is the most dangerous place for a woman, and violence against women is about power and control.
Announced in June 2019 with a historic contribution of $300 million CAD from Global Affairs Canada, the Equality Fund is an innovative model delivering unprecedented resources to feminist movements. Our goal is ambitious: Mobilize $1 billion for gender equality in philanthropic and investment capital in Canada and around the world.
We are shifting power and resources to organizations and leaders on the frontlines. Why? Because this is the most effective way to fight inequality.