When corporations divert rivers, when governments displace communities, and when the constant human desire for “more” disrupts the safety of our environment, women and children are often the first to suffer. Access to clean water, a full belly, and a safe place to sleep at night are rights humans should have at birth.
What can we do when these natural rights are violated?
Global Greengrants Fund, also known as Greengrants, seeks to answer this question by taking action. By committing to a program based on participatory grantmaking, Greengrants connects under-served and under-funded communities with the resources and mentorship they need to fight for justice.
The Ohio River forms at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, and flows southwest nearly 1,000 miles to southern Illinois where it meets the Mississippi River. Several corporations, notably Shell, have projects in the works to produce plastics and chemicals in the Ohio River Valley, and have already begun building ethane cracker plants, pipelines, storage facilities, and other dirty infrastructure. These projects will foul the air and water, exposing residents of parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to toxic emissions, sending health costs from just three proposed plants into the billions over the plants’ lifespan. Moreover, such production exacerbates climate change and make local economies vulnerable to the boom-bust cycles typical of the energy industry.
As a feminist, reading the news that Jeff Bezos has pledged $10 billion to fight climate change feels jarring, and a little frightening, especially as I scanned through several articles and realized there was no real plan for all this money, and no mention of gender as part of the strategy. I started to feel a little like a wife learning that her husband wants to work on improving their marriage, so he’s bought a boat to prove it, without considering whether she like boats or has any interest in the sport.
Slow your roll, Jeff. It seems like a better plan would be to step back and take a look at what the business you created has done to women, men, children, workers, the environment, and the global economy, and figure out a path to a more sustainable business model for Amazon.
On October 31, Rachel’s Network announced the inaugural winners of the first-ever Catalyst Award. Designed to provide women leaders of color support and recognition, the Catalyst Award highlights winners’ commitment to a healthy planet.
Each award winner will receive $10,000, extensive networking opportunities, and national recognition for their outstanding work. In addition, the award winners will be recognized at an invitation-only ceremony held in March 2020 in Washington, DC.
Chosen from a massive application pool, the winners reflect some of the top talent and dedication in the fields of conservation, environmental law, public policy, and water access.
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.