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:
It looks like the UN is finding more ways to connect its gender equality strategy to the economy and culture. In a bold new multi-sector alliance with such big names as Unilever, Twitter, and Microsoft, UN Women announced a global campaign to end sexist stereotypes in advertising.
The new launch is called the Unstereotype Alliance, and it seeks to unite leaders across business, technology and media to tackle the stereotypes that normalize sexism. On June 22 at The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, the Unstereotype Alliance held its inaugural session to define its strategy and priorities.
Young feminists have been organizing across the globe for decades, but their work, particularly in the media sector, has been woefully underfunded. I know, since I was one of them. In 1969, when I co-founded Women Make Movies, women’s funds didn’t exist.
Over the decades, thousands of young activists have gathered at events like the International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, the flagship event of AWID (Association of Women’s Rights in Development), and have talked about the need for more funding for young feminists, particularly in media. As the last decade closed, many young activists lamented that no women’s fund specifically addressed their youthful organizing needs. So they decided to start their own, with AWID and Fondo Centralamericano de Mujeres (Central America Women’s Fund) incubating this spark of an idea.
An article from Barista Magazine brings good news for women and coffee aficionados worldwide: the launching of a new program aimed at improving coffee quality and productivity for female farmers in Colombia. The new program is a partnership of Strauss Coffee, Sustainable Harvest and the Relationship Coffee Institute. From the article:
A coalition of international and UN organizations, private foundations and governments have come together to produce startling new research on the state of gender norms in the Middle East. The study, entitled Understanding Masculinities: Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), helps to clarify how cultural norms for both men and women contribute to hostility and violence against women, specifically in the nations of Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Palestine.