With gender-based violence still a major barrier to women’s equality and empowerment, funders are starting to put more money toward prevention internationally.
The World Bank Group recently announced, in partnership with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI), ten awards of up to $150,000 each to organizations who will prevent and respond to gender-based violence worldwide. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, in announcing the grants, said another $3.5 million will also be invested in the cause of ending physical and sexual violence against women.
An estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, a staggering statistic that speaks to the pervasiveness of the problem. “Gender-based violence thrives on secrecy and indifference with devastating consequences,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said upon announcing the grants. “We cannot stand by while so many women suffer harm that’s completely preventable.”
Ever wonder why progress for gender equity remains incremental, and constantly faces regression? Well, it might have something to do with our institutions being so entrenched in patriarchy that they aren’t able to effectively carry out a gender equality agenda.
That appears to be the argument of an open letter from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and 25 MENA Women Civil Society Organizations, sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The letter cites a of a growing lack of trust in the Security Council throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). To counter this lack of credibility and action, the group of women’s civil society NGO’s is proposing bold measures “to advance women’s rights and set the UN back on track as an Organization that works for the common interests of our shared humanity.”
Am I being watched by the government? Am I the kind of activist/writer who might get detained and questioned at the US border? Across the world, activists and social justice leaders are asking themselves scary questions about what the many repressive events of recent days portend for their safety and security, and for political struggle worldwide.
A new report from the Transnational Institute (TNI) in Amsterdam makes the point that civil society may be shrinking in the coming years, as we face increasing barriers to movement-building from government.
The report was created by a group of eight authors, and also several organizations including “Palestine Link, Women Peacemaker Program, Un Ponte Per, AWID, Africans Rising for Justice, and Peace and Development,” as valuable contributors.
The report cites the recent attempts to suppress Black Lives Matter, as well as the “the criminalization of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement” as examples of activism facing repressive action from “states, corporations and the Far Right.”
This report raises important concerns that are central to the cause of gender equality, and to issues related to how and where women fund social movements. In particular, the report cites donors having higher levels of “risk aversion and securitization,” which will result in “limiting or withdrawal of funding available for both grassroots activism and marginalized causes.” Instead, donors will be more inclined to favor larger, less politicized organizations that are seen as “safer.”
From the report:
The current emergency has been a long time in the making. But only recently has it galvanized a concerted response by organized ‘civil society’, which is now mobilizing to understand and counter what is termed ‘shrinking space,’ a metaphor that has been widely embraced as a way of describing a new generation of restrictions on political struggle. The concept of space itself has different definitions depending on who you talk to. Some understand it as limited to space to influence policy (a seat at the table) while others understand its meaning as political space to organize, to operate, to have a legitimate voice, to protest and to dissent. The former tends to depoliticize contestations while the latter is empowering them. These distinctions concerning how ‘space’ is conceived will shape the type of response warranted, with important implications for who engages in that space and how.
This paper attempts to deconstruct the ‘shrinking space’ narrative by explaining what it means and unpacks some of the problems inherent in the concept. It also considers who is most affected by ‘shrinking space’, and why; where the trend is headed; how it relates to the other dominant paradigms of the 21st century; and how progressive social movements may respond.
Progress for women is gradual in a world where an estimated 15 million girls are sold into marriage. In developing nations, the situation is even worse. According to the UNFPA, an estimated “one in three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15.” Among other scary news on child marriage is this recent report that child marriages are on the rise in Syria.
There are several funders paying close attention to the problem of child marriage. These include Kendeda, which has committed over $31 million in this arena in recent years, and provides support for Human Rights Watch, the Global Fund for Women, and Girls Not Brides. The Ford Foundation also does some significant work in this area, and The NoVo Foundation is also committed to the cause of ending child marriage.
A recent addition to the funders in this space is The Firelight Foundation, which according to Inside Philanthropy, partnered with Agape AIDS Control Program in 2015 to put in place programs to stop child marriages and early pregnancies “across five wards in the Shinyanga, a region of Tanzania where nearly 60 percent of girls are married before their 18th birthdays.”
Philanthropy will hopefully become more attuned to the particular reforms that countries need to end practices that hurt women and girls. There is so much to know and learn in this area, and reforms that must be funded. For example, I would like to find out about funders who are working to ban the Islamic practice of triple talaq in India, which entitles a man to dissolve his relationship with his wife by announcing three times, “Talaq.” Recently, there has been successful organizing to end the controversial “Talaq” practice. CNN reported that more than a million Muslims, mostly women, have signed a petition to end the divorce practice of triple talaq.
You can count me in on signing the petition to end triple talaq. Meanwhile, Philanthropy Women will continue investigating the funders working on particular areas of legal reform to marriage codes that impact women and girls, and will highlight the philanthropy working to remedy the problems.Read More
In the world of philanthropy, it’s a little unusual to hear about a public debate between high level professionals. We have a lot of panel discussions, and not so many debates. But Philanthropy New York (PNY) clearly has other ideas.
PNY, “a regional association of grantmakers with global impact,” is sponsoring a debate between two very different leaders in the philanthropy sector. Picture, if you will, the matchup:
In this corner, we have David Callahan, Founder and Publisher of Inside Philanthropy, and author of the forthcoming title, The Givers, a riveting text that makes you question everything you know about philanthropy, and which lands squarely on the side of tightening up taxation and regulation of the rich. Furthermore, it makes you want to run laps around the block to vent your rage at the rampant inequality in today’s world.
Certainly it is worth noting for women in philanthropy when one of the great funders of progressive causes passes on. David Rockefeller is one of those progressive philanthropists who helped contribute to early funding for human rights overall and particularly for women’s rights.
More will need to be said on this blog about how David Rockefeller contributed to the evolution of women’s empowerment in philanthropy. For now, we offer prayers and good thoughts for the Rockefeller family as they celebrate his amazing life and navigate this transition.
When you meet Ana Morales you are immediately struck by her charm. She is warm, funny, approachable, accessible.
But if you stop there, you’d be missing out on the full picture. Morales is also a philanthropist who is constantly working to understand the world and give back. And given how fearlessly she approaches this mission, she is a great study in how women are changing the face of global philanthropy.
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Morales credits her interest in community and social change to her grandfather, Roberto, a man who epitomized giving back.
“My grandfather was an entrepreneur. Starting at the age of five he shined shoes and sold vegetables,” said Morales, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. “He believed in business as a force for change and he believed in community.”
Ten years into her signature philanthropic endeavor, Lumos, author J.K. Rowling has grown increasingly vocal about her disdain for developing world orphanages that do nothing to address the underlying needs of children and families.
Readers here at The Chronicle of Social Change know about the damage that child welfare systems can do to children, but perhaps even more damaging are money-driven orphanage systems, where children can suffer extreme neglect and lifetime attachment issues. And parents, often because of poverty, are deprived of the opportunity to raise their children.
“Globally, poverty is the no. 1 reason that children are institutionalized. Well-intentioned Westerners supporting orphanages perpetuate this highly damaging system and encourage the creation of more institutions as money magnets,” tweeted Rowling in late August, when expressing her fury at a voluntourism charity that was offering young adults the “CV-distinguishing” opportunity to volunteer in an orphanage in Moldova, where they could “play and interact” with children” in desperate need of affection.”
Like many who follow philanthropy, I pay attention to the Rockefellers. No family has done more to shape modern giving over the past century. But what are the Rockefellers doing these days to change the world? Having a chance to talk to Neva Rockefeller Goodwin gave me a window into what the Rockefellers are doing these days.
For one thing, as most of us have heard, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund took the major step not long ago of divesting from fossil fuels—a move that received enormous attention, given that the family’s wealth is famously derived from Standard Oil. Less well known is that the Rockefeller Family Fund is also divesting.
One member of the Rockefeller clan deeply involved in these issues is Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, a fourth-generation Rockefeller who previously served as a trustee and vice chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She is also President of the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve in Maine.