Leadership for a Changing World: Mary Robinson at #WomenFunded

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, provided the keynote address for Women Funding Network’s conference, Leadership for a Changing World, held in San Francisco in September. With a message of urgency about our climate crisis combined with a call for more women’s leadership, Robinson brought the audience to their feet with applause for her words.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – September 12 – Mary Robinson and Melanie Allen attend Women’s Funding Network Conference and VIP Reception with Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson on September 12th 2019 at Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, CA (Photo – Susana Bates for Drew Altizer Photography)

“Unless women take leadership in dealing with the climate crisis, then all the other issues, and I fully believe in the intersectionality of all the other issues, but all the other issues will actually fade, because we won’t have a livable world for our children and grandchildren,” said Robinson. “It’s as simple as that, and as stark as that, and as real as that, and that’s why it’s so important that women are now taking that leadership.”

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Giving Through Celebration: Batonga Foundation Hosts NYC Benefit

One of the best ways to leverage support for a community is by celebrating its culture. Angélique Kidjo and the Batonga Foundation seek to amplify their campaign for women and girls in West Africa through a one-of-a-kind benefit dinner hosted later this month in New York City.

Angelique Kidjo invites YOU to a night of West African flavor in New York City! (Source: Batonga Foundation)

Kidjo, a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer and musician, was born in Benin and grew up steeped in the rich musical and social culture of West Africa. She attended school at a time when girls’ education was not considered socially acceptable. In answer to taunts from boys in her classes, Kidjo would shout back, “Batonga!,” an invented word that has since translated into Kidjo’s music and philanthropy.

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Joining Forces To Empower Women in Senegal

Local girls enjoy clean water from a rehabilitated well in Senegal. Photo Credit: CREATE! (@createsenegal)

Where are the effects of climate change felt the strongest?

West Africa shoulders some of the heaviest impacts created by climate change, particularly in communities where families live off the land. Many communities in Sub-Saharan Africa have laid claim to lush, verdant farmlands for hundreds or thousands of years—but today, those families find themselves fighting against the very land they’ve called home for generations.

Between desert encroachment, deforestation, and the effects of a rising global temperature, rural populations in Senegal experience some of the worst effects of climate change. Farming families struggle to cope with a shorter growing season, while communities across the continent suffer from a shortage of clean water, food, and fuel.

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The International Battle for Women’s Water Rights

Five years later, the battle for clean water still rages in Flint, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Flint Rising)

Superheroes no longer wear capes: they wear gym shoes. 

A few days before we spoke on the phone, Gina Luster represented Flint Rising at an activist event in San Francisco. A red-eye flight took her to Grand Rapids, Michigan, then to her home in Flint at 7:30 in the morning. Next, Gina drove to Detroit for a panel appearance at the NAACP’s annual conference. She arrived in the city exhausted and ready for a shower before our interview, only to find out she couldn’t check into her hotel. 

Gina took my call from the hotel parking lot, sitting under a tree next to the Detroit River. Despite the insanity of her schedule and the flickering cell phone signal, her attitude was overwhelmingly positive. 

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New Microgrants Cultivate Collective Giving

Members of the co-design team working to grow the power and amplification of giving circles. (Photo credit: Catalist)

On August 20, 2019, an initiative to connect and catalyst the field of giving circles announced their intention to donate $32,000 to collective giving organizations. The funds, distributed in thirteen microgrants ranging from $500 to $5,000, will go toward circles and networks that “showcase, scale, strengthen, and sustain the field of collective giving. 

This initiative is born out of a yearlong co-design process spearheaded by the organizations Amplifier, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Catalist, Community Investment Network, and Latino Community Foundation. 

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Alarm Bells Ringing Over Trump Human Rights Commission

Organizations and legislators are urging the U.S. to protect human rights globally and disband U.S. Secretory of State Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Inalienable Rights.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Women funders with an eye on world affairs and human rights, take note: Critics fear that Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Unalienable Rights” is nothing more than a device for legitimizing a roll-back of gender, reproductive and LGBTQ rights globally.

In his July 8 “Remarks to the Press,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the new commission as an “informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy.” Opposition to the commission has been swift. Led by New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 22 Democratic senators—including presidential hopefuls Bennet, Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren—sent a July 23 letter to Pompeo “expressing deep concern” about the commission. They also noted, “The President’s personal affection for those who have trampled on human rights has stained America’s moral fabric.”

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Girl Power: Helping Empower Teen Girls in Grantmaking

Girls participate in the WFG-funded Unearth storytelling project. (Image credit: BRAVE)

“Too few girls have the chance to make decisions about any aspect of their lives – whether they can stay in school, whether and what they can study, when or who they marry, accessing health care, and if and where they can see friends,” Swatee Deepak, director of With and For Girls (WFG) says. WFG is a funding collaborative that seeks to shift the scales of power in teen girls’ favor. It gives financial support to girl-led and -centered groups around the world and engages young women in participatory grantmaking panels. This means, every year, former winning organizations train teen girls to choose the next prize recipients. As we’ve pointed out, girls and young women ages 10 to 24 make up 12.5% of the world’s population — around 900 million people total. But, less than 2 cents of every international aid dollar goes to campaigns directed toward girls in this age group.

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45 Years, Millions of Lives: An Interview with Leah Margulies

Leah Margulies is an attorney, human rights advocate, and policymaker who has dedicated her career to bringing corporations to task over their activities that violate human rights.

“Join other people who are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and things will just happen.”

This is how my interview ended with Leah Margulies, a longstanding figure in the world of activism and corporate accountability. A civil rights lawyer, a policy maker, an attorney, an author – Leah’s resume stretches across almost five decades of powerful work. Her career represents the best possible outcome when philanthropy and activism intersect – years of positive action, progress, and the ability to look back and see how far we’ve come.

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Relationship-Oriented Leadership: Caryl Stern After 13 Years at UNICEF

Caryl Stern (Image credit: Jessie English for UNICEF USA)

The second interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Caryl Stern, the CEO of UNICEF USA who recently announced she will be leaving the organization after 13 years. 

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had known that I would succeed. I don’t think in my wildest dreams I thought I would end up as CEO, and it would have been great to know that from the very beginning! And, I wish I had known from the very beginning to just be yourself at work. I grew into that and it’s something that I learned from experience in my role – it definitely served me well.

What is your current greatest professional challenge?

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It’s All About Health for Women and Girls: Ghada Khan on Ending FGM

Ghada Khan (front row, far right) with U.S. End FGM/C members and other attendees of the 63rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2019. (Image credit: Ghada Khan)

An estimated 3.9 million girls around the world are at risk of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) every year. About 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. are at risk of or have undergone this procedure. Ending FGM/C is an issue that many funders can engage in; those who are interested in gender equality, who want to end gender-based violence and child abuse, who want to defend women’s bodily autonomy, and who want to make sure all girls are safe, educated and empowered.

Dr. Ghada Khan is a health program analyst and the network coordinator for the U.S. End FGM/C Network, a collaborative group of “survivors, civil society organizations, foundations, activists, policymakers, researchers, health care providers and others committed to promoting the abandonment of [FGM/C] in the U.S. and around the world.” She spoke to Philanthropy Women about her work and how philanthropy can be more effective in the fight to end FGM/C.

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