Rachel’s Network is a prime example of how women donors in particular use networks to enhance their strategy and address multiple levels of culture with their work, from environmental concerns to helping underserved populations. By championing funding initiatives that pair environmentalism and gender equality and acknowledging the intersection between them, Rachel’s Network has become “one of the most significant funding networks in the ecofeminist space,” as Philanthropy Women has previously reported.
The organization, which has donated about $2 million to relevant causes, is best known for looking at the “other side” of commonly-discussed issues like climate change and environmental preservation, noting how certain marginalized groups often go overlooked by media coverage and funding efforts alike.
In the early 1980s, armed government forces massacred hundred of members of the Maya Achi communities near the Rio Negro highlands of Guatemala. When the Maya Achi resisted eviction from their ancestral homes, the armed forces began a destructive campaign that spanned five massacres and ten communities, killing 441 women, children, and men. Ultimately, around 3,500 people were displaced from their homes, tortured, assaulted, or left without food or livelihood. Recent studies place the number of affected individuals around 11,000.
Why? To make room for a hydroelectric dam on the Chixoy River.
Women around the world who are leading the fight against climate damage are to be highlighted by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner, in the hopes of building a new global movement that will create “a feminist solution for climate change”.
Perhaps more revolutionary still, the new initiative is light-hearted in tone, optimistic in outlook and presents positive stories in what the originators hope will be seen as a fun way.
Called Mothers of Invention, the initiative will kick off with a series of podcasts showcasing the work of grassroots climate activists at a local level, as well as globally resonant initiatives such as the legal challenges under way in numerous jurisdictions to force governments to adhere to the Paris agreement goals. Scientists and politicians feature alongside farmers and indigenous community leaders from Europe, the US and Australia to India, Kenya, South Africa and Peru.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we are tracking the grantmaking and strategizing that is happening in the ecofeminist space, from the new Roddenberry Prize seeking solutions to both climate change and advancement for women and girls, to the grantmaking done by the Gender Just Climate Solutions award, which makes grants that share both feminist and climate strategies. We’re also showing how women’s giving collectives like Rachel’s Network are bringing feminist philanthropists together who share a vision of how to integrate climate solutions with gender equality. Stay tuned!
Feminist philanthropists take note: The 25th Anniversary issue of GreenMoney is entitled Women and Investing, and is written entirely by women. Here are some quick summaries of the top articles.
Julie Gorte of Pax World/Impax AM:
In her piece, Gender Equality: With or Without the Federal Government, Gorte notes that the current GOP administration is less gender-diverse than the previous five (FIVE!) administrations. Gorte contends that there are many other ways that gender equality can be effected besides federal policy. She points to recent moves in corporations pushing for more board diversity, and provides evidence for gender equality being a significant stimulus to local economies.
Choice Quote: “These kinds of strong economic and financial drivers give investors reasons to care about gender equality, and to use their tools—investments, proxy voting, and engagement—to achieve it.”
Kristin Hull of Nia Impact Capital
In Putting Feminism into Our Finances, Kristin Hull explores several important markers of feminist values that can be considered when investing, including whether the company has women in leadership, provides access to capital for women, and produces products beneficial to women. Investors should also consider hiring female investment advisors and using their own voices as advocates for better policies in the companies they are investing in.
Choice Quote: “From women in board leadership, to CEO pay, to workplace equity we can all use our investor voice by voting proxy statements in alignment with fair and equitable corporate policies and procedures. ”
Choice Quote: “Staying true to core beliefs, being unafraid to carve out a non-traditional niche, and tending carefully to the surrounding community have been huge factors to my, and to Saturna’s, success.”
Choice Quote: “It is clear that managing a portfolio with even the simplest gender standards is an uncomfortable position to find myself in. I hope that by my rising to the challenge, future generations will discover my path is easy to find and follow.”
There is more of interest in this issue, including an overview of how Pax World persuaded finance and tech companies to address their gender pay gaps. Clearly, there is a lot happening in the gender lens investing space, where profit and purpose are being integrated in new ways.
As the tech industry continues to recognize its gender and race gaps, foundations are committing funds to address these gaps, particularly for girls. A recent example: an announcement by the TE Connectivity Foundation that it will grant $1.25 million to three nonprofit organizations this year: Girl Up, FIRST Global, and SMASH. The foundation’s mission is to bring innovation to engineering and technology by providing opportunities for women and minorities to learn and take part in such innovation.
TE Connectivity is a tech company specializing in the creation of various products for the technology world. With 78,000 employees worldwide, TE Connectivity has 13.1 billion in sales in 2017, and has over 7,000 engineers on staff. The company website describes their work as creating “a world that’s smarter, safer, greener, and more connected.”
Girl Up was chosen for this grant because of the organization’s mission to develop female leadership in STEM fields across the globe. Being an organization of the United Nations Foundation, they have sites and connections worldwide. These sites host GIRLHERO Solution Labs and STEM boot camps. Together, these programs teach STEM skills to girls to both grow their interest in the field and increase STEM job availability for women.
Girl Up also has corporate partners and and foundation support from Disney, BNY Mellon, Caterpillar Foundation, Oath (an advertising subsidiary of Verizon), and Special K Cereal.
There is definitely more room for corporate partnerships like TE Connectivity’s partnership with Girl Up. Imagine if every corporation took an interest in supporting collaborative efforts to address the race and gender gaps in tech — we could make so much more progress. Learn more about Girl Up partnerships here.
The other two grantees for this year from TE Connectivity Foundation are First Global, organizers of a yearly international robotics challenge that reaches more than two billion youth with STEM education, and SMASH, which seeks to reach underrepresented youth of color with STEM education and “access to resources and social capital,” helping them to launch successful careers in the technology sector.
The newest issue of Gender & Development is taking a close look at the connections between gender equality and environmental work in today’s world, a world where President Trump has the power to reduce the size of public monuments in Utah by millions of acres, a potentially illegal move that has huge implications for gender justice. Certainly, now is the time for feminist and environmentalists to come together and strategize about how to fight back.
In a post introducing the new issue of Gender & Development, Editor Caroline Sweetman reminds us that 2017 has been the deadliest on record for environmental activists. Further, in many countries around the world, women are on the losing end of deals made to extract natural resources from developing nations.
It’s important to keep making the connections between gender justice and climate change for several reasons. First, it integrates the natural world into the equation when talking about how to equalize power and maintain the planet for everyone. Second, the approach calls into account the powerful corporate forces that are influencing the equation, and how they need to be held accountable both for addressing gender equality and for their role in impacting climate change.
I believe feminist philanthropy has a critical role to play in funding ecofeminism — continuing the work that began over 30 years ago when women leaders started to call attention to the parallels of environmental destruction and other forms of human domination and exploitation. I believe as we approach critical mass for women in both government and business, we will see more forward movement for the ecofeminist agendas. However, that forward movement is going to need significant funding from progressive leaders who understand the connections between environmental and gender justice.
Because of the importance of addressing climate change for women worldwide (as well as for all other manner of human and other species), it is important to take note of the economic activity that other countries are poised to engage in as a result of the Paris Accord. It’s also important to note how the U.S. will miss out on these economic opportunities because of our current poor (and non-representative) presidential leadership.
Recently, a new international commission formed to encourage more businesses to see the sustainable development goals as a smart business move — one that will generate an estimated $5 trillion and 230 million jobs in Asia alone by 2030.
Better Business, Better World Asia is part of a series of reports, first launched in January 2017, which make the business case for the Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals—17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle our key environmental challenges by 2030.
The research shows that, instead of being a constraint to growth, companies pursuing strategies aligned with the Global Goals could open economic opportunities across 60 “hot spots” worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs globally by 2030. Asia represents 40 percent of the global value, and nearly two-thirds of total jobs.
Better Business, Better World Asia breaks down the estimated US$5 trillion of economic value across four key systems:
Food & Agriculture: US$1 trillion Cities: US$1.5 trillion Energy & Minerals: US$1.9 trillion Health & Well-being: US$670 billion
Of the total value for Asia, around US$2.3 trillion could be found in China alone, US$1.1 trillion in India, US$1.1 trillion in developing and emerging Asia, and US$0.7 trillion in developed Asia, which include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.
“Asia’s economic transformation in recent decades is unprecedented, thanks to smart government intervention and business innovation, but the ‘Asian Century’ is threatened by persistent inequality, environmental collapse and unabated climate change,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. “The same ingenuity that catalysed Asia’s rise can also turn these challenges into opportunities that rewards both business and society. Better Business, Better World Asia shows that the continent already has the means to do so—it needs only the will to realise this US$5 trillion opportunity.”
The estimated value of US$5 trillion is conservative. Additional value could be released from other sectors, including information communication technologies (ICT), education, and consumer goods. Globally, these sectors could add a further 66 percent to the global value of US$12 trillion. Pricing in environmental costs such as climate change could increase the ‘real’ size of the prize by a further 40 percent. And making progress on the single global goal of gender equality in countries in Asia where women are not strongly engaged in the economy is likely to add an additional 30 percent to the economic growth of these countries.
“With the locus of global influence shifting East and South and with 40 percent of a US$12 trillion prize at stake, the opportunities for businesses serving consumers in Asia are obvious,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and member of the Business Commission. Strategies that sustainably meet the demands of the growing middle-class in the region, whilst at the same time tackling urgent environmental and social challenges will ultimately be successful in unlocking market value. Aligning these strategies with the Global Goals is not just good for society and the environment, but makes strategic business sense.”
The 20 largest opportunities identified in the report account for more than 70 percent of this prize; they also vary across countries. In China and the rest of developing and emerging Asia, affordable housing presents the largest business opportunity, reflecting a large unmet need. In India, where much of the population is not covered by health insurance, risk pooling in healthcare presents the biggest opportunity. In developed Asia, creating closed-loop systems in automotive and appliances presents the biggest opportunities, due in part to the manufacturing power of Japan and South Korea. Reducing food waste in food supply chains, worth US$260 million, is the largest single opportunity in food and agriculture; while low-income food markets comes in second, with a value of US$190 billion.
“Feeding Asia has become an urgent priority, with its current 4.4 billion and still-growing population. Sustainable agriculture at scale has never been more crucial, even as farming participation continues to fall in Asia,” said Sunny Verghese, Co-Founder and Group CEO of Olam International, and a commissioner. “We believe that businesses have a critical role to play in ensuring agriculture remains viable by partnering with smallholders who constitute the majority of Asian farmers to enable them to help feed the world sustainably.”
According to the report 230 million jobs that could be generated through SDGs-aligned business models in Asia, However, these jobs created will only meet Global Goals targets if they provide decent work which create sufficient reward and development opportunities for workers.
An estimated US$1.7 trillion is needed annually to develop all the opportunities across the four systems in Asia. Blended financing—where public and philanthropic bodies take on the high risk and more policy-sensitive tranches of investment—can fill the funding gap and help bring in private investors at lower risk.
“The Global Goals can be see through a local lens, for example, through Balinese philosophy, Tri Hita Karana, or ‘Three Ways to Happiness,’ which emphasizes harmony with people, nature, and spirit,” said Cherie Nursalim, Vice Chairman of GITI Group, and a member of the Commission. “The Global Goals align with these age old traditions through what we call an ‘SDG Pyramid.’”
The new report, Better Business, Better World Asia, was produced in partnership with Temasek, an investment company headquartered in Singapore, and AlphaBeta, a “strategy and economics” firm based in both Singapore and Sydney.