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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Funders for social progress appear to be increasingly recognizing the intersection of women’s rights and climate change. For example, the million dollar Roddenberry Prize, recently discussed on Philanthropy Women, seeks to support organizations with new solutions to both gender inequality and climate change. Additionally, substantial research, such as this recent issue of Gender and Development, highlights how environmental issues are closely related to gender equality problems.
Here’s where Rachel’s Network comes in. One of the most significant funding networks in the ecofeminist space, Rachel’s Network has a mission of promoting women as the leading strategists in addressing environmental issues and climate change. Rachel’s Network is made up of female advocates for environmental justice and women’s empowerment, many of whom work in major environmental organizations across the globe. These women annually donate about $60 million to organizations and projects that are helping our planet and addressing gender inequality.
“We focus on women at the grassroots, aligning our grant-making strategies and priorities to fit their needs,” says Chandra Alexandre, Global Fund for Women’s Vice-President of Development. The goal is to leverage local knowledge and expertise with donor funds to create system-level change for women in the Global South.
Global Fund for Women is headquartered in San Francisco, but five members of its 41-person staff are in New York, and four more work remotely from various locales. The organization was founded in 1987, and since then has invested in roughly 5,000 grassroots organizations in 175 countries. Its approach encompasses both advocacy and grant-making, with an emphasis on supporting, funding and partnering with women-led groups and movements. According to their website: “Our vision is that every woman and girl is strong, safe, powerful, and heard. No exceptions.”
If you follow the news on philanthropy, you have probably heard about Oxfam’s troubles. One of the oldest and largest global relief and development organizations, Oxfam is now facing heavy scrutiny due to sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Haiti in 2011. The Haitian government has suspended some of Oxfam’s operations in its country for two months while it investigates how the nonprofit handled the allegations of sexual misconduct during their humanitarian response in 2011. An estimated 7,000 individual supporters have since abandoned the organization since the allegations were reported in February this year, although the nonprofit asserts that their corporate partners have not withdrawn support. (A helpful timeline of events about the Oxfam crisis is available at Third Sector.)
It’s hard for me to keep up with all the news these days on feminist philanthropy, which is a good thing. That means there are more stories every day (and especially during women’s history month) that are reaching people’s inboxes and getting the world thinking about turning further in the direction of a feminist vision of peace and justice. The constancy of this news is why I publish a daily aggregate of news called Giving For Good, which I encourage you to subscribe to if you are a feminist philanthropy news junkie like me.
Sometimes the news is so big that it deserves extra attention, which is one of the reasons I created Philanthropy Women: to highlight the feminist philanthropy news that is truly game-changing and groundbreaking. Here are a few extra important stories that I wanted to pick out and share:
An article in the November 2017 issue of Geographical, a print publication out of the UK, does an exceptional job of summarizing the current research on gender equality globally. Geographical came to my attention after having the opportunity to talk with staff at Oxfam Great Britain (Oxfam GB), in order to learn more about the way Oxfam has approached integrating gender and development for the past two and a half decades.
The article points to research showing that making gains in gender equality could add as much as $12 trillion to the economy, but also quotes some experts who are dubious about using economic arguments for achieving political gains for women. Dr. Torrun Wimpelmann says that it’s unproductive to argue with social conservatives using this economic data. Another expert, Dr. Jeni Klugman, author of a high level UN report called Leave No-One Behind, says there is room for the economic argument, since it comes at the issue pragmatically.