Obama Foundation Announces New Global Initiative to Educate Girls

The Obama Foundation announced the launch of The Global Girls Alliance, which will seek to increase education for girls worldwide. (Photo courtesy of Obama Foundation website.)

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.”

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This Social Enterprise Helps Women See Strategies for Giving Up-Close


Jacquie Love becoming a student for the day at ZOE International rescue house in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

As feminist strategies in philanthropy continue to grow, new organizations are being created to serve the needs of this sector.  Among these new organizations is the Secret Sisterhood, founded by Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Jacquie Love. Launched in the second half of 2017, the enterprise reports already having 40,000 women in its network.

Along with creating jewelry that celebrates gender equality and women’s leadership, the Secret Sisterhood conducts “philanthropic journeys” —  travel events in the developing world that offer women an opportunity to see first-hand how philanthropy can aid in gender equality movements. The journeys have four aims — empowering female entrepreneurs in developing nations, reducing human trafficking, eliminating violence against women, and providing education for girls.

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Potluck Power: How This Women’s Giving Circle Feeds Global Gender Equity

Photo from a 2018 trip to Rwanda for Dining for Women Members to learn about grantees.

Sharing food: one of the ultimate human communing experiences. Now imagine sharing food with a group of generous women who, like you, want to make every dollar they give to charity count toward helping women and girls and addressing gender equality in developing countries.

Welcome to Dining for Women (DFW), a global giving circle dedicated to funding social change for women and girls.  At monthly potluck dinners, members come together and discuss today’s issues impacting women and girls, particularly the organizations being funded that month, and in the process, these 8,000-plus women raise more than a million dollars annually to fight for gender equity. Dining for Women was founded in 2003, and many chapters have already had 10 or even 15 year anniversaries.

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London Convening Focuses on Ending Violence Against Women

Left to Right: Marai Larasi (Imkaan); Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK); Emma Watson; Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA–The Young Feminist Fund)

“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.”

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This Women’s Foundation is Fueling Social Change in DC and Israel

The Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation makes grants to organizations in both Washington D.C. and Israel.

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.

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Innovation Symposium Will Look at Gender-Based Giving, Participatory Grantmaking

Innovations in International Philanthropy is sponsored by Fidelity Charitable, Veris Wealth Partners, the Boston Foundation, and many other notable partners in the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Good news for the philanthropic sector, as mainstream philanthropy appears to be embracing key concepts and strategies related to gender equality and a more relational way to do grantmaking.

The latest example of this trend? New England International Donors (NEID) and The Philanthropic Initiative’s Center for Global Philanthropy have gotten together to co-host  the 2018 Innovations in International Philanthropy Symposium at MIT’s Samberg Center September 6-7, 2018. The goal of this event is to “propel forward the capacity and impact of internationally-oriented philanthropists, including individuals, families, foundations, investors, and corporate funders.”

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Abigail Disney: Feminist Changer, Feminist Changed

Screenshot from a Facebook discussion: Abigail Disney, left, with Rev. Rob Schenck, right, on the release of his book, Costly Grace.

An email arrived from Fork Films. Who can open and read the mountainous volume of emails one receives these days? This one, however, I opened.

There was Abigail Disney sitting with Rev. Rob Schenck. He is the center point of her own first directed film, The Armour of Light, released in 2015. In the process of making the film, the arch-conservative preacher wrestled with his position on guns, and came to the conclusion that gun use was contradictory to his position on right to life. He has now formed The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute to combat present social crises. The current special focus of the Institute is on gun violence in the U.S. from a Christian, ethical perspective. Abigail Disney, filmmaker, activist and philanthropist, is a Governor on his Board of Directors.

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Supporting Women-Led Enterprises in South East Asia: Root Capital Partners with Australian Government

Root Capital is partnering with an Australian Program to provide loans for women in agriculture in South East Asia.

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.

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How NoVo is Spreading Radical Hope in Africa and Beyond

NoVo Foundation has granted $34 million to organizations across the globe working on social problems, including reducing violence against women.

The NoVo Foundation is one of the largest private foundations to advocate for gender equality and has specifically focused much of its funding on reducing violence against girls and women globally. In their most recent initiative, the Radical Hope Fund, the foundation donated $34 million in grants to 19 different organizations around the world.

The Radical Hope Fund began as a response to the 2016 election. Seeing the increase in attacks on women and girls as well as LGBTQ  populations, immigrants, people of color, and refugees, the foundation felt compelled to take action in a new, bolder way. Thus, the Radical Hope Fund was born, initially pledging to donate $20 million to selected grantees, but eventually deciding to deepen that commitment to $34 million.

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Praising the Deeds of Women: How Gender Equity and Reconciliation Can Change the World

Women encircle men during a closing ceremony at the Gender Equity and Reconciliation Initiative retreat in Framingham, MA.

When I told my husband I was going to a three-day retreat on gender reconciliation, he was genuinely excited for me, but he couldn’t help getting in a sarcastic reference to cliché. “Are you going to hold hands and sing kumbaya?” he asked.

I thought for a moment, and then my eyes lit up. “I think so!” I said.

The Gender Equity and Reconciliation International (GERI) retreat held in Framingham, MA did indeed involve some hand-holding and song-singing. But it also did much more, traveling into a realm of meaningful communication and understanding where I have never been before.

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