Sustainable Harvest International Founder and President Florence Reed did not encounter many other women leaders in philanthropy when she started the organization in 1997. “I was flying by the seat of my pants. I literally went to a library and checked out a book on how to start a non-profit, and went through it chapter by chapter,” she recalled in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Who knew then how successful her initiative would be: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) was recently named by Charity Navigator as one of the “six highest-ranking charities in the sector making major strides to increase sustainable food production.”
Fourth of July, 2017 came and went, but Lady Liberty’s vigil continues, reminding us of the brave work required in every generation to truly live as a free people.
As we turn the page on the 4th of July this year, report after report like the Freedom in the World 2017 and the 2017 Social Progress Index confirm a feeling in the air today: freedom is not currently advancing but rather is in decline. According to these reports, 2016 marked the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
“In past years we generally saw declines in freedom among autocracies and dictatorships,” describes Arch Puddington, one of Freedom In the World 2017’s co-authors, “but in 2016 it was established democracies that dominated the list of countries suffering setbacks.” The US was among a list of “Free” countries – including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Tunisia – where freedom was found to be in decline as “populist and nationalist forces made significant gains.”
In another unexpected “first” for our nation, Donald Trump decided to have his daughter, Ivanka sit in for him at the G20 leaders’ summit in Hamburg, Germany. But another, perhaps more important first also took place at this meeting: The World Bank Group announced the creation of an innovative new facility that plans to invest more than $1 billion to advance women’s entrepreneurship. This new facility will give women in developing countries a leg up when it comes to increasing their access to capital and markets that will help them start and grow businesses.
Here’s a good idea: Encouraging funders to adopt language in their contracts with grantees that spells out how the grantees will prevent gender-based abuse and harassment and provide safety for everyone in the work environment.
An article by Sophie Edwards in Devex discusses some new research from Humanitarian Women’s Network that shows just how serious the problem of gender-based harassment still is in the aid and relief work sector. The Devex article spells out some specific ways that funders of international aid can help protect aid workers from gender-based harassment and abuse. From the article:
Young feminists have been organizing across the globe for decades, but their work, particularly in the media sector, has been woefully underfunded. I know, since I was one of them. In 1969, when I co-founded Women Make Movies, women’s funds didn’t exist.
Over the decades, thousands of young activists have gathered at events like the International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, the flagship event of AWID (Association of Women’s Rights in Development), and have talked about the need for more funding for young feminists, particularly in media. As the last decade closed, many young activists lamented that no women’s fund specifically addressed their youthful organizing needs. So they decided to start their own, with AWID and Fondo Centralamericano de Mujeres (Central America Women’s Fund) incubating this spark of an idea.
A coalition of international and UN organizations, private foundations and governments have come together to produce startling new research on the state of gender norms in the Middle East. The study, entitled Understanding Masculinities: Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), helps to clarify how cultural norms for both men and women contribute to hostility and violence against women, specifically in the nations of Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Palestine.
Recently, one of our lead sponsors, Emily Nielsen Jones, philanthropist and Co-founder of Imago Dei Fund, raised the warning flag about the growing conservative Christian influence on religious culture in the U.S. Now, a new report has come out that warns of a growing conservative religious influence on the United Nations. The report, entitled Rights at Risk and produced by The Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURS), argues that “the universality of human rights is under attack by an increasingly coordinated and agile set of anti-rights actors operating in the international human rights sphere.”
Recently, I got an email from Stephanie Gillis, Senior Advisor at the Raikes Foundation, wanting to “explore potential synergies” with the work we are doing at Philanthropy Women. Naturally, I was eager to do so, and soon learned about Givingcompass.org, a new team effort of several foundations and nonprofits, aimed at drawing on the chops of the tech sector in order to provide more resources for the philanthropy sector, particularly around how to assess the quality of philanthropy and get the most impact per philanthropy dollar.
Some of the wealthiest women in the world deploying vast fortunes with gender lens grantmaking: This is the future of philanthropy.
But gender norms of the past still haunt many women philanthropists. “Women told us that they would be at a cocktail party, and people would come talk to their husbands, but not them,” said Kate Roberts, Senior Vice President for Corporate Partnerships with Population Services International (PSI). A global nonprofit “focused on the encouragement of healthy behavior and affordability of health products,” PSI is the host organization for The Maverick Collective.
Confusion reigns in Trumpland. And lack of awareness in decision-making appears to be rampant in the Trump Administration.
The latest example is the Trump Administration’s internal memo ending “Let Girls Learn,” Michelle Obama’s signature philanthropic endeavor. On May 1st, CNN opened up the can of worms with the headline, “Trump administration memo calls for ending Michelle Obama’s girls education program.” Hours later, CNN would post another headline, “Despite memo, White House says Michelle Obama program unchanged.”