Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Heidi Gonzalez, Executive Director of Adoptions From The Heart (AFTH). In addition to her duties as the new Executive Director, Heidi is the Regional Supervisor of Wynnewood, PA, Allentown, PA, and Wilmington, DE for AFTH.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I never really thought about it. In fact, I take each day as it comes. I try not to look back and get caught up in a “woulda shoulda coulda” mentality. Instead, I focus on the future and what I can do to improve my agency and myself. Every profession has its challenges: it’s all in how you handle them, and if I don’t think I did a bang up job the first time, I try to look at where I made mistakes and try to correct them the next time. Every day is an opportunity to do better–so that’s what I aspire to do.
Kiersten Marek, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, opened up today’s webinar, “Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color,” with a welcome to the speakers and audience.
She introduced the webinar with a discussion on the idea behind Philanthropy Women. Partially inspired by NoVo Foundation’s bold commitment of $90 million in funding for women and girls of color in 2016, Philanthropy Women launched in January of 2017 to cover this kind of intersectional feminist giving approach and others like it. However, with NoVo’s recent shuttering of programs for women and girls of color, the funding landscape for addressing domestic violence against women of color is facing some big changes.
This important discussion comes at a critical time: as the COVID-19 crisis continues to play a dangerous role in the rise of domestic violence cases; as demonstrations continue in response to the deaths of people of color at the hands of police officers; and as people join together around the world to call for action on behalf of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless other women and people of color who deserve to have their stories heard.
The webinar will focus on ways philanthropy can help to end violence against women of color. With the tragic death of Breonna Taylor, we see how women’s lives are snuffed out with no repercussions. Black women in the US are more likely to experience domestic violence, be arrested for it, and be murdered by an intimate partner. This webinar will focus on key strategies funders can take to support women of color as they fight for their right to live and prosper.
COVID-19 puts pressure on all of us, but many women and girls are at higher risk of danger and oppression during these unprecedented times. A crisis like COVID-19 makes the widespread effects of issues like abuse, domestic violence, and rising barriers to educational, financial, and social survival much more intense–and often, much more deadly. The new Global Resilience Fund for Girls and Young Women seeks to answer this understated emergency with rapid, flexible funding to activist groups led by girls and young women.
The Global Resilience Fund supports informal collectives, registered organizations, and unregistered community groups led by girls, young women, and trans and intersex young people around the world. To reach populations that may otherwise have a difficult time obtaining funding, the Global Resilience Fund only offers grants to organizations with a budget of less than $50,000 per year. Successful applicants can receive “fully flexible rapid response grants” worth up to $5,000.
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, feminist activists, institutions, and individuals around the world need immediate access to funding and other forms of support. Many aid packages have already been deployed to the people who need them most, but some other lesser-known populations are in danger of falling by the wayside.
One of these groups of vulnerable people includes feminist activists: people who have lost their jobs or livelihoods yet are still fighting for protection and social change. In the midst of a pandemic, these rights battles can’t simply be put aside.
For the past 30 years, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has honored exceptional women in journalism, highlighting the courage of female journalists around the world as well as the groundbreaking journalists who have dedicated their careers to paving the way for female journalists of the future.
This week, IWMF announced the 2020 recipients of the 30th annual Courage in Journalism Awards, granted to female journalists who go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to reporting the truth. These women face down harassment, violence, government oppression, and more in their pursuit of journalistic integrity.
At first, Megha Desai thought there was no way girls and women would take to social media to tell stories about their first periods. But as education, dignity, and confidence grew in a small town in India, the local women and girls surprised her.
Four years ago, the Desai Foundation held an awareness campaign about menstrual health and hygiene in the small town of Untdi, Gujarat–the village Desai’s father grew up in.
“We had all these signs laid out on tables, saying things like ‘Happy to Bleed,’ ‘Proud to be a Woman,’ and ‘Proud of my Womanhood,” remembers Desai, President of the Desai Foundation. “I looked at those signs and I thought, ‘Nobody is going to hold these signs up. We’re in a tiny little village where no woman would talk about her period. But by the end of the campaign, the women and girls were so confident and proud that they posed for pictures with these signs. It blew me away. I thought to myself, if these girls in this little village can hold these signs and pledge their periods, then we ought to be able to do that, too.”
Cindy Southworth knows how it feels to be at the center of the fire. As the Executive Vice President for the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), Southworth has found herself, like many nonprofit and crisis aid workers, pivoting almost daily to meet the needs of victims of domestic violence around the country.
Speaking to Women Moving Millions during a webinar session in early April, Southworth laid out the organization’s mission, as well as the deep plea for help from domestic violence organizations around the country.
“We want to get the message out that domestic violence shelters are still open,” she says. “What we’re all working to do is create a world where the idea of domestic violence no longer exists, where it doesn’t even seem fathomable that somebody would use violence and control to harm their partner. And in the meantime, we want to make sure that, until we create that new world with different gender norms and different social and cultural expectations, that we are serving every single survivor who needs and wants to reach out for help.”
In March 2020, the National Domestic Workers Alliance announced the Coronavirus Care Fund, a campaign to raise $4 million in emergency relief funds for domestic workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Domestic workers, a large percentage of whom are women, immigrants, and people of color, are among the unsung heroes on the front lines of the pandemic. They take care of homes, families, and people who are at high risk of catching the virus, like the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. What’s more, many domestic workers find themselves faced with the COVID-19 crisis without any kind of support network, savings to fall back on, or union to protect their rights.
UPDATE: Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of rape in landmark case for the #MeToo era. Weinstein was convicted of third degree rape of Jessica Mann. The jury in New York also convicted Weinstein, 67, of third-degree rape of Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress. He was also convicted of criminal sexual act in the first degree against Mimi Haley, a former “Project Runway” production assistant. Read more here.
(Original article published February 13, 2020) Harvey Weinstein is now on trial, and all the world is watching to see how far the women survivors can get in their pursuit of justice. Women in philanthropy, in particular, are paying close attention to the Weinstein trial, many of them commenting regularly on social media about it, and offering support and thanks for the bravery of the women testifying. There also appears to be a surge in funding for initiatives that get women’s voices on the record about sexual assault and harassment, particularly in the film industry. All of these events are evidence of #MeToo’s indelible imprint on civil society.