“Join other people who are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and things will just happen.”
This is how my interview ended with Leah Margulies, a longstanding figure in the world of activism and corporate
accountability. A civil rights lawyer, a policy maker, an attorney, an author –
Leah’s resume stretches across almost five decades of powerful work. Her career
represents the best possible outcome when philanthropy and activism intersect –
years of positive action, progress, and the ability to look back and see how
far we’ve come.
It’s an election like no other, with record numbers of women running for office at the local, state, and national levels, and women everywhere becoming activist voters who want to see themselves represented in government.
It’s a great time to be publishing about women’s philanthropy, as more women take on funding nonprofits that are supporting gender equality, not only in the U.S. but also globally. So far this year we’ve seen significant growth in new organizations committing to addressing gender-based violence and education for girls worldwide, including Girls, Inc, the Obama Foundation, and the #MeToo Fund headed by Tarana Burke.
And yet so much more can happen to enlarge gender equality movements, and integrate new awarenesses into our daily lives about how we can treat others with less gender prejudice. Tomorrow, I’m excited to be sponsoring a Safe Conversations workshop for licensed mental health professionals at my offices in Cranston, Rhode Island. This is one way that I am trying to enlarge the gender equality practices that we all have the capacity to change — the ways that we speak to and support one another in our communities.
I will be holding subsequent workshops in Safe Conversations over the coming months. Please contact me if you are interested in enrolling in a future workshop.
Just as I was remarking on Teresa Tanzi’s courage and how it led to an important victory for women and girls, comes news that the episode is bearing more fruit in terms of raising awareness and taking action.
Adding to the momentum of Teresa Tanzi and other state legislators, Time Magazine is spotlighting 7 female legislators from across the country who are collectively voicing their concerns about sexual harassment, and calling for states to lead the way with creating safer, harassment-free environments for all people.
The piece was cowritten by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, South Carolina; Rep. Daneya Esgar, Colorado; Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, California; Sen. Sara Gelser, Oregon; Rep. Renitta Shannon, Georgia; Rep. Teresa Tanzi, Rhode Island; and Rep. Litesa Wallace, Illinois.
The #MeToo movement on social media has awakened many Americans to the reality that sexual violence and harassment are prevalent in all corners of the country and take many different forms. Sometimes, harassment looks like an unwanted grope on a street corner. Sometimes, it looks like a boss making uncomfortable demands, or a friend who doesn’t listen when you say “no.” It looks like the fear, anger and shame felt for years afterward by those who are targeted. While millions of women responded #MeToo, we know sexual violence and harassment happens in all communities. We know that transgender individuals suffer at alarming rates, and that men and boys are victimized, too.
[…] We see it. We live it. We power through it. Every day. And we are saying enough. That’s why we have spoken out, sponsored legislation and demanded change. We need change in our state houses, in our schools and on our campuses, on our streets, and in our workplaces. And big change starts with the states.
This collective action is a great example of how women at every level can collaborate and leverage their political power, encouraging more citizen activism. It would be great to see this coalition grow into the hundreds — all legislators working to end gender-based violence.
It’s Time Network hosted a conference call this past week that gave a window for states across the country to learn about California’s efforts to grow gender equality movements. The call featured Jessica Stender of Equal Rights Advocates, who has been coordinating and enacting many steps of a legislative agenda for women in California. The call was well-received nationally, with people registered from 16 states.
From Betsy McKinney and the It’s Time Network team:
Thank you for joining us for Tuesday’s virtual convening to learn about how we can support policy agendas that lift women and children out of poverty, ensure fair pay and family-friendly workplaces, and more, focusing on the Stronger California legislation.
Here are some actions you can take now to build momentum around action for women’s rights:
Join the network to be invited to participate in future convenings, connect with others in your city who are working for change, support collective action for women’s rights, and more
Please note that this call will cover topics of interest to all who support gender equity, whether or not you live in Denver, as we’ll provide information about how you can apply these learnings to your own city.
Kate Raworth has written a very compelling article about the need to redesign economies to address inequality. The change requires relinquishing old economic thinking, which said something like, “Inequality has to get worse before it can get better in a growing economy,” and replacing it with new thinking that builds on “a network of flows” which are distributive by design.
Instead of focusing foremost on income, 21st-century economists will seek to redistribute the sources of wealth too – especially the wealth that lies in controlling land and resources, in controlling money creation, and in owning enterprise, technology and knowledge. And instead of turning solely to the market and state for solutions, they will harness the power of the commons to make it happen. Here are some questions that 21st century economists have already taken on to help create an economy that is distributive by design:Land and resources: how can the value of Earth’s natural commonwealth be more equitably distributed: through land reform, land-value taxes, or by reclaiming land as a commons? And how could understanding our planet’s atmosphere and oceans as global commons far better distribute the global returns to their sustainable use?Money creation: why endow commercial banks with the right to create money as interest-based debt, and leave them to reap the rents that flow from it? Money could alternatively be created by the state, or indeed by communities as complementary currencies: it’s time to create a monetary ecosystem that can fulfill this distributive potential. Enterprise: what business design models – such as cooperatives and employee-owned companies – can best ensure that committed workers, not fickle shareholders, reap a far greater share of the value that they help to generate?Knowledge: how can the potential of the creative commons be unleashed internationally, through free open-source hardware and software, and the rise of creative commons licensing? Technology: who will own the robots, and why should it be that way? Given that much basic research underlying automation and digitization has been publicly funded, should a share of the rewards not return to the public purse?
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.