Kris Kepler: On Radical Hospitality and Unexpected Leaders

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Kris Kepler, CEO of mobile hygiene pioneer LavaMaeX, which brings hygiene and other critical services to the unhoused.

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I left my corporate job over three years ago to work in the non-profit sector. I craved a role in social impact, I wanted to give more, and I’ve never looked back.  

Kris Kepler
Kris Kepler, CEO of mobile hygiene pioneer LavaMaeX. (Image credit: LavaMaeX)

When I started, I wish I would have known the power of embracing failure, saying “I tried my best,” being okay with it and not defeated by it. I have learned to look at those moments with curiosity and optimism and know that failure brings great opportunity for change both personally and professionally.

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A Bloody Problem: Dominika Kulczyk on Ending Period Poverty

A bloody problem: period poverty, why we need to end it and how to do it

Dominika Kulczyk launches new report on period poverty and joins a group of world-class philanthropists as part of a partnership with Founders Pledge

(Image Credit: Kulczyk Foundation)
  • Kulczyk Foundation and Founders Pledge launch first-ever report on effective funding recommendations to address period poverty
  • Dominika Kulczyk, a Polish philanthropist and businesswoman, provided seed funding for the pioneering report and calls upon the international community to unite efforts and commit to ending period poverty
  • Report finds lack of developed and existing evidence base in the field on the most effective interventions to address period poverty
  • Eight organisations including Days for Girls and Irise International highlighted as best practice 

[15 October 2020, London / Warsaw] – Kulczyk Foundation, a Polish private family foundation, and Founders Pledge, a community of entrepreneurs committed to finding and funding solutions to global challenges, have launched a new report on period poverty. A bloody problem: period poverty, why we need to end it and how to do it – which reviews the current state of funding and solutions to ending period poverty – finds that there is no unified approach to data collection, fundraising or implementation of period poverty programmes.

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#SayHerName: What Feminist Givers Can Do For Breonna Taylor

On March 13th, the Louisville Metro Police executed a “no knock” warrant at the Kentucky home of Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. The exact events of the night have been hotly contested in and out of court, but the end result was that a young woman with a bright future lost her life, and the police who perpetrated the killing did not seem to be held accountable in any way.

Image Credit: Todd Heisler / The New York Times

In the months that followed, protests surrounding Breonna’s death and the deaths of women of color at the hands of police officers have rocked the country, even amidst the most serious pandemic of our time. Bolstered by the Black Lives Matter movement, and further aided by Kimberlé  Crenshaw’s creation of the #SayHerName hashtag, Breonna’s story broke through to mainstream culture and gave America a new awareness about what racism looks like for women of color.

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Equal Rights Amendment Can’t Wait in Time of COVID

Three weeks ago, I was elected as Board Chair of the Equal Rights Amendment Fund for Women’s Equality. As a funder and champion of women’s rights and economic justice, this call to step up could not have come at a more urgent time. 

The ERA Coalition is the sister organization to the Equal Rights Amendment Fund for Women’s Equality. (Image Credit: ERA Coalition)

Each one of us has had many moments of reckoning during COVID-19. But as women of color, we have seen that COVID has treated us differently from the rest. Race has been identified as a co-morbidity and a risk factor, just like diabetes or heart disease. Our healthcare systems, our educational systems, and our systems for protecting essential workers are all struggling mightily against a dangerous and mysterious disease. Basic rights and systems have been demolished for women, and women of color are being particularly hard-hit, facing higher rates of job loss while also being expected to bear more responsibility for caregiving and educating children.

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Coming Together to Make Health Care More Gender Responsive

Editor’s Note: The following announcement is from the publication Foreign Policy.

Nonprofit organization Women in Global Health is one of the sponsors of an upcoming conference on gender-responsive global health. (Image credit: Women in Global Health)

The COVID-19 crisis has been a stark reminder that global health is a fundamental security concern. The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in health and social systems at global and national levels, including gender inequities, weakening our collective ability to tackle COVID-19 and generate improved health outcomes into the future. It is clear that the commitment made by governments to deliver Universal Health Coverage by 2030 is an essential prerequisite for global health security. Many lives will be lost to COVID-19 because gender disparities in the health workforce and wider society weaken our response. We can take steps now to build back better and bring the important conversation about equality and health into the international security arena.

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Kamala Harris: “We’re Gonna Get It Done.”

“We’re gonna get it done.” These were some of the first words spoken by Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris in her phenomenal half-hour interview with Errin Haines, Editor-at-Large for the 19th, during the 19th Represents Summit on Friday. Harris’s plans to “get it done” refer to the upcoming Presidential election, and her goal to join Joe Biden in leading the U.S. out of one of its worst crisis periods in history.

Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke with Errin Haines of The 19th on Friday, August 14th, giving details of her experience becoming the first woman of color nominated to the U.S. Presidential ticket. (Image Credit: The 19th video, Youtube)

Haines began the interview by asking what it was like for Kamala Harris to be in competition with women she respected and worked with, other candidates who were running for President and were in the lead to be asked to fill Biden’s ticket for the Vice President spot.

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MacKenzie’s Pledge: Leaders Driving Change to Fix Inequality

Last June, MacKenzie Bezos (now MacKenzie Scott)’s $37 billion divorce settlement made headlines — as did her signing of the Giving Pledge, committing to give away at least 50% of her wealth while still alive.

MacKenzie Scott has pledged to donate at least 50% of her wealth within her lifetime. (Image Credit: The Giving Pledge)

This $18.5 billion commitment bodes well for philanthropy (although the true 50-50 split that was rumored would have boosted that number to something like $69 billion for MacKenzie and $34.5 billion for philanthropy). To date, MacKenzie appears to be putting her money where her mouth is when it comes to fulfilling the Giving Pledge.

On July 28, MacKenzie published a list of her contributions to 116 nonprofits around the world. This list is exciting not only because of her deep-set and clear commitment to feminist philanthropy, but because a number of the nonprofits and NGOs on MacKenzie’s list are organizations we’ve worked with here at Philanthropy Women.

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How is COVID-19 Impacting Justice for Women?

In a new report from the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), UN Women, and a collection of sponsors and contributors, the combined crises of women’s justice and COVID-19 come to light.

Image Credit: IDLO

In Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19, Jeni Klugman of the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security investigates the difficulties women face in seeking justice–difficulties that have been exacerbated, sometimes with disastrous consequences, due to COVID-19.

Drawing on a women’s justice landscape outlined in a 2019 report from the same team (Justice for Women), this new report examines the multiple dimensions of the COVID-19 catastrophe. Common themes in fighting the pandemic–country-wide stay-at-home orders, mass layoffs, closure of businesses that employ low-wage workers–align with troubling themes in women’s justice, such as a rise in intimate partner violence (IPV), lack of access to information via mobile phones and the Internet, and discrimination (both inherent and supposed) against women around the world.

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What Melinda Gates Says, and Doesn’t Say, About Women in COVID

“Architects of a better world” is how Melinda Gates frames the role of women in the age of COVID. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, the co-founder of the world’s largest philanthropic organization makes the case that women’s leadership is the beacon of light the world needs most right now.

Gates starts off the essay by recognizing the silent pandemic of violence against women happening during COVID. She goes on to detail in full the many ways that women are losing access to health care and jobs, all while being piled with more housework and childcare duties.

(Image Credit: Oladimeji Odunsi at Unsplash)

Maternity Care Needs to Develop Workarounds for COVID

Gates is particularly worried about expectant moms in COVID, and with good reason. She relates some of the staggering losses suffered in the Ebola outbreak of 2014 in Sierra Leone. One suggestion that Gates makes for COVID: separate facilities for COVID and non-COVID pregnant women in some countries so that women can still get maternal care, even if they are COVID positive.

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Merck Seeks Grantees to Improve U.S. Childbirth Safety


Americans often think of high childbirth mortality rates as a problem plaguing low-income countries, but U.S. maternal mortality rates, particularly for African American and Native women, are high. Merck for Mothers’ “Safer Childbirth Cities” initiative is combating this trend, and its latest call for proposals is expanding its efforts beyond its initial ten-city cohort.

Merck for Mothers has issued an important new report on maternal mortality called “Insights from the States Report.” (Image Credit: Merck for Mothers)

While the U.S. maternal mortality rate is substantially lower than most countries of the Global South, according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. maternal death rate of 19 deaths per 100,000 live births it is substantially higher than Canada (10 per 100,000), the United Kingdom (7), Japan (5), Spain (4) and Italy (2). Countries comparable to the U.S. include Russia (17), Turkey (17) and Romania (19). Moreover, the U.S. is the only high-income country with a rising level of maternal mortality.

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