It’s always good to start the week learning about the launch of a new gender equality nonprofit. Tomorrow at Georgetown University, Women on the Map (WOMAP), an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the role of women and girls in fields of technology and foreign affairs, will officially launch. To celebrate the launch, WOMAP will host an expert panel discussion on how technology can empower women and girls. Following the panel, a photo exhibition will be unveiled which celebrates the history of female trailblazers from around the world who have contributed to women’s rights, peace and security as well as international business, development, diplomacy, and public service.
Today at 11 am EST, I’m going to be tuning in to Lumos and its partners, Catholic Relief Services and Maestral International, as they hold a Facebook event where they will talk about their plans as finalists in the MacArthur Foundation #100andchange global competition, which will make a $100 million grant to one of four finalists.
As a supporter of Lumos, I’m thrilled to see that the organization has teamed up with other powerful partners to move forward on its goal of ending orphanages by 2050. If they receive the $100 million grant from MacArthur, that would make a huge difference in their ability to carry out their ambitious plans.
Do you know all 17 of the sustainable development goals adopted by the UN in January of 2016? If so, good for you. Up until today, I was mainly familiar with SDG 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Now that I read Equal Measures 2030’s research showing that many policy leaders in the development sector do not know very much about the SDGs, I decided it was time to do my homework and learn more about the SDGs myself.
So here they are. They read kind of a like a very long human rights mantra. Let’s break it down and start with the first five:
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Timing couldn’t be better. Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will give $20 million over the next three years to empower women’s organizations globally.
The news comes on the same day that Equal Measures 2030 released a Gender Report along with the Gates Foundation and ONE Campaign Coalition at the United Nations General Assembly, taking place this week in New York.
Some of the new funding from the Gates Foundation will go toward better research and training, as well as multiplying support for grassroots activism in the gender equality sector of development.
Last week in New York, over 50 female philanthropists came together to launch a new educational scholarship fund for women.
At the occasion, the American Society of University of Haifa announced the founding of its new Women’s Scholarship Fund. The scholarship seeks to engage women at all levels of philanthropy and support female students at all levels of education.
“We are very committed to education. Education is the key to everything. It is something that you can’t take away and if you give someone an education, it will enable them to help themselves for the rest of their life,” said Lady Irene Hatter, who spoke at the gathering. With their philanthropy, Hatter and her husband, Sir Maurice Hatter, support World Jewish Relief and World ORT, a worldwide Jewish educational NGO.
“We see our members—grass roots organizations—as the experts,” says Emily Bove, Executive Director of the Women Thrive Alliance.
Women Thrive comprises 285 organizations in 53 developing countries. Based in Washington, D.C., Women Thrive supports its member groups in advancing women’s rights globally. “We only work with groups that are engaged in advocacy,” says Bove, citing Women Thrive’s expertise in this area. The other criteria for Women Thrive membership is that the participant organization have female decision-makers at the helm. Given its expansive membership roster and skeleton staff, much of Women Thrive’s work is virtual, including online courses aimed at helping member groups organize around gender and poverty issues.
While Women Thrive prioritizes women’s rights and equal access to education, Bove stresses that all aspects of development are interconnected, and breaking them up into discrete parts is somewhat arbitrary. “Women don’t wake up and say, ‘today my focus is on my child’s education and tomorrow it’s on clean water.’” The goals of women holding political power, controlling their own bodies, receiving fair pay and having access to education are interrelated, and all are key in furthering development.
Sustainable Harvest International Founder and President Florence Reed did not encounter many other women leaders in philanthropy when she started the organization in 1997. “I was flying by the seat of my pants. I literally went to a library and checked out a book on how to start a non-profit, and went through it chapter by chapter,” she recalled in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Who knew then how successful her initiative would be: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) was recently named by Charity Navigator as one of the “six highest-ranking charities in the sector making major strides to increase sustainable food production.”
In another unexpected “first” for our nation, Donald Trump decided to have his daughter, Ivanka sit in for him at the G20 leaders’ summit in Hamburg, Germany. But another, perhaps more important first also took place at this meeting: The World Bank Group announced the creation of an innovative new facility that plans to invest more than $1 billion to advance women’s entrepreneurship. This new facility will give women in developing countries a leg up when it comes to increasing their access to capital and markets that will help them start and grow businesses.
Here’s a good idea: Encouraging funders to adopt language in their contracts with grantees that spells out how the grantees will prevent gender-based abuse and harassment and provide safety for everyone in the work environment.
An article by Sophie Edwards in Devex discusses some new research from Humanitarian Women’s Network that shows just how serious the problem of gender-based harassment still is in the aid and relief work sector. The Devex article spells out some specific ways that funders of international aid can help protect aid workers from gender-based harassment and abuse. From the article: