Ten Companies Join UN Foundation, Promise Better Lives for Women

Katja Iverson, President and CEO of Women Deliver, speaks at the Women Deliver conference held in early June, 2019, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau look on. (Image credit: Women Deliver 2019)

Women comprise a large and growing percentage of the global workforce, yet they often work under unhealthy and difficult conditions, including harassment and violence, that are damaging to them, and to their families and communities. In textile, garment and shoe manufacturing, as well as flower farming and tea, coffee, and cocoa processing, women comprise 50 to 80 percent of the workforce. Many of these female workers are underpaid and suffer from pervasive gender discrimination.

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Shaping the Shapers: How WMM Trains Women in Social Change

Sarah Haacke Byrd is the Executive Director for Women Moving Millions, where she is responsible for building strategy and scale around WMM’s mission for greater impact on gender equality. (Photo credit: Women Moving Millions)

Feminist philanthropy is designed to change the world.

Sometimes it works slowly, dollar by dollar, woman by woman and girl by girl, as we each come to realize that there are issues in this world we strongly disagree with — issues that we can take a stand against. In other cases, feminist philanthropy finds huge momentum in large-dollar donations, and campaigns leap forward with the assistance of celebrity women and female pioneers who hold significant amounts of the world’s wealth.

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Women Givers: Support Female Empowerment through UN’s CEDAW

CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is underfunded, and its fourth quarter meeting for 2019 is threatened by budget shortfalls. (Image Credit: CEDAW)

The rights of women, girls, and LGBTQA+ people around the world are once again coming into question, based on countries’ like the U.S.’s reluctance to commit to championing those rights in the United Nations.

On May 27, 2019, the Women’s UN Report Network (WUNRN) drafted an open letter to United Nations representatives, urging the protection of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) session scheduled for later this year.

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Knowing When to Say No: Sometimes Leaving Money on the Table Sends the Strongest Message

The Haitian Project President Deacon Patrick Moynihan (right) stands with Louverture Cleary School faculty and administration at an all-school morning prayer and meeting. (photo credit: The Haitian Project)

Patrick Moynihan, President of The Haitian Project, a Rhode Island-based Catholic non-profit which educates poor Haitians, has publicly rejected a $100,000 donation offered by a representative of Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots.

In a May 8, 2019 Skype interview given to the GoLocalProv website, and reiterated in a Providence Journal opinion piece published several days later, Moynihan stated that because Kraft has refused to denounce the sex trade and apologize for his participation in it, it was improper for The Haitian Project to accept funds from the Patriots owner.

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Women Missing From Research on Fake News and Politics

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has awarded its first round of “Social Media and Democracy Research Grants.” The 12 projects provide “systematic scholarly access to privacy-protected Facebook data to study the platform’s impact on democracy worldwide.” The SSRC is an independent, international nonprofit led by Alondra Nelson, a Columbia University Professor of Sociology and inaugural Dean of Social Science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Facebook data will be used by researchers to better understand the role of social media on politics and society, notably the spread of disinformation and fake news, and how social media users attach themselves to particular online narratives. Several of the projects analyze how social media has affected particular political events, including recent elections in Italy, Chile, and Germany, as well as public opinion in Taiwan. The projects also examine the relationship between Facebook and traditional news media, and delve into the complex question of what constitutes “fake news,” and how it can be distinguished from more fact-based reporting.

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How This Nonprofit is Growing Support to End FGM Globally

Former First Lady Michelle Obama with Amy Maglio, Founder of the Women’s Global Education Project. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy for the Obama Foundation)

Recently when checking in with the Obama Foundation, we learned that they are highlighting the Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP) and its work in helping global communities end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). To find our more about how this work takes place, Philanthropy Women spoke with Amy Maglio, Founder of WGEP. Maglio founded WGEP over 14 years ago after she was a peace corp volunteer in Senegal, where she lived for three years.

“When I got back from Senegal, I thought about all the girls I knew who weren’t in school,” said Maglio. She was particularly concerned with the reasons that girls weren’t going to school, and wanted to find more ways to ensure that girls got into school and stayed in school in Senegal. Maglio began partnering with local community-based organizations in Senegal that were already working on these questions. Local organizers in Senegal identified that girls ended their education often because of healthy, safety, and cultural issues.

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What is Feminist Foreign Policy? How Can Donors Support More of It?

Sweden’s feminist foreign policy is helping to define key strategies for addressing gender equality worldwide.

In 2014, Sweden made waves by becoming the first country across the globe to adopt an explicitly feminist foreign policy. Drawing both controversy and acclaim, the foreign policy was the first of its kind to focus so pointedly on international gender equality across every level of government. Since Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was confirmed to a second term on Jan. 18, 2019, activists have called for even more emphasis on continuing the successes of the feminist foreign policy.

But what exactly is a feminist foreign policy? In Sweden’s case, the policy focused on funding initiatives across the three “Rs” in which women tend to be underserved and neglected: resources, representation, and rights. Donors who are interested in promoting gender equality through their efforts and outreach can look to the Swedish model of feminist foreign policy to know where to begin.

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Women Donors: What Can You Do to Support Women in Union Jobs?

Women workers belonging to unions earn more money. How can feminist philanthropists support unionized women? (Image courtesy of National Nurses United.)

As I scour the internet in my never-ending quest to know more about feminist strategies in philanthropy, I don’t often come across union support as a primary strategy. The Ms. Foundation for Women does some work in this area with its support of the Miami Worker’s Center and the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, but supporting unions like the American Federation of Teachers or National Nurses United does not appear to be a primary focus of most feminist philanthropy strategies.

Consequently, this article on Apolitical by Odette Chalaby garnered my attention as one that progressive women donors might want to read and think about in terms of how they are aligning their strategy with union activity. There are many potential benefits for women’s empowerment to supporting unions that are primarily comprised of women.

First, some background on the problem:

Women in Unions Have Gender Pay Gaps that are Half the Size

While unions are often seen as largely white and male, it’s Hispanic women that stand to gain the most from membership in the US today.

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Measure and Inspire: How a New Tool Tracks Women, Peace, and Security

The new global Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Index tracks the number of missing girls in the world, showing that China and India have the highest numbers of missing girls.

“I firmly believe that data not only measure progress but inspire it,” said Hillary Rodham Clinton recently, referring to the potential uses for the inaugural Women, Peace and Security Index, a new tool for measuring the role of women in making progress on global peace and security. Clinton recognized “the work that remains to confront the violence, injustice, and exclusion that still hold back too many women and girls around the world,” but she believes this new global index on women, peace and security will help “to inform public debate and discussion and hold decision-makers to account.”

With our current GOP administration, the threat of war has increased substantially. Now, perhaps more than ever, the role that women play in achieving sustainable peace needs to be recognized. The Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Index, created and introduced by Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and The Peace Research Institute Oslo, is a significant tool for helping women get a foothold on the climb to greater influence in global peace and security.

The index ranks 153 countries (98% of the world’s population) on three dimensions of well-being: inclusion, justice, and security. The index is based on a shared vision that countries are more secure and economically successful when women have equal rights, and public efforts are made to accelerate progress toward equal opportunity for women.  Such a shared vision has been a long time in the making. “It has taken 17 years from the adoption of the first resolution on women, peace and security for this index to become a reality,” said Børge Brende, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Much has been said about justice, security, and inclusion being interlinked, but only now have the data been put together that show us how.”

Brende referenced the fact that women are often the first to be impacted by war, and added that the Women, Peace, and Security Index “has the potential to sensitize us to dangerous situations and could ultimately contribute to conflict prevention efforts.” Ultimately, the participation of women in peace and security policy, and the promotion of gender equality, are key drivers of security both within and between states.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, linked the importance of this new index to the sustainable development goals. “As the world works to realize the sustainable development goals (SDGs), we will need robust tools to measure progress. I welcome this new global Index—the first gender index to be developed for women’s role in peace and security—as a mechanism to assess countries’ progress against the SDGs, thus creating inclusive, just, and peaceful societies for all.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women, recognized how the new index is part of a “global gender equality compact” that holds great promise for transforming the lives of women and girls. “Like any promise, it needs to be kept—and that means we need to track progress.”

How Does WPS Index Track?

The new WPS Index fills a gap in the gender equality research on conflict monitoring, analyzing the fragility of states, and estimating political instability, along with including several other indicators created by other research hubs.It is guided by the confirmed correlation between the treatment of women at all levels of society and the degree to which any given society can maintain peace. If a state uses violence to resolve disputes, justifies its abuse of women’s rights, has low levels of women in the workforce, and a preference for the birth of sons, chances are that society is also not able to maintain peace and may be ripe for war.

So What Does the WPS Index Tell Us?  

The big leaders in terms of gender equality related to peace and security are Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The U.S. ranked 22nd, doing well in marks for inclusion in finances, employment, and cell phone use, as well as justice indicators such as the number of men who believe it is unacceptable for women to work. The U.S. has high rates of intimate partner violence, though, with rates that are 10 percentage points above the mean for developed countries.

Who are the Funders for the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS)?

Bank of America Foundation recently made a $1 million dollar grant to be shared between GIWPS and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative. The Compton Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to GIWPS in 2018. (If you want to get a picture of a whole slew of funding going toward peace and security, take a look at the Compton Foundation’s giving overall.) Other funders include Ford Foundation and the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.

United States Began Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Act in 2018

Related to this index, the United States has been slowly moving forward in recognizing the role that women must play in building global security, with 2017 being a breakthrough year in U.S. policymaking on the subject. In 2017, Congress passed the Women, Peace, and Security Act, a piece of legislation that evolved from 2011 to 2017 under the Obama Administration, in order to recognize that women’s participation in the field of peace and security is more than just a matter of parity — it’s a matter of global security.


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Ms. Foundation Shifts Strategic Course Toward Women of Color

The Ms. Foundation’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan targets low-income women, many of whom are women of color. (Photo Credit: Ms. Foundation Strategic Plan, Building Power: Advancing Democracy)

The nation’s oldest public women’s foundation recently announced that it will steer in a new direction over the next five years — toward growing its commitment to low-income women and women of color by more than $25 million.

In addition, the Ms. Foundation will form its first-ever political fund, which will support the legislative agenda for women and girls both nationally and locally.

With Teresa C. Younger at the helm, the  Ms. Foundation for Women is joining other big funders in the feminist philanthropy space, including the NoVo Foundation and Prosperity Together (the national coalition of women’s funds focused on low-income women and women of color) in making economic, social and cultural equality for women and girls of color a central feature of its strategic plan. “Women of color are a political force to be reckoned with,” said Younger, in a press release announcing the new strategic plan. “In 2018, we delivered unprecedented electoral wins in Alabama, Georgia, and New York — yet we are sorely underrepresented in philanthropic investment, with only 2% of that spending going to women and girls of color.”

The Ms. Foundation’s announcement comes at a time when women’s rights and equality are under new threat from regressive local and national political movements. The new grants from the Ms. Foundation will provide both financial support and capacity-building and strategic support. Another important feature of this new strategic plan will be its first-ever formation of a 501(c)(4) fund specifically designed to amplify political movements. “It’s time that we champion and do all we can to ensure that women and girls of color are in power, at the tables of power and are supported as movement leaders,” said Younger.

One more thing this new feminist philanthropy strategic plan will emphasize: relationships, of course! “In response to the fragmented state of the women’s movement and promising new practices that are evolving, our Ms. Foundation for Women team will pilot cross-movement, cross-sector, and cross-generational strategies that can amass a much larger base of supporters and hold diverse social movements accountable for advancing a gender and racial equity agenda,” explains the Ms. Foundation’s strategic plan,  Building Power: Advancing Democracy.

As is often the case in feminist philanthropy, this new strategic plan is  all about the relationships and building power among the grassroots. For more information, please visit the Ms. Foundation’s website here. 


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