Women Asset Managers: San Francisco Foundation Needs You

The San Francisco Foundation is modeling a higher level of financial integrity as it announces a new $50 million for justice-lens investing, including hiring minority and women financial managers.

When you think of San Francisco, the first thing to come to mind is probably the Golden Gate Bridge, or the picturesque houses lining multi-million-dollar streets. You likely don’t immediately think of the wealth disparity that Silicon Valley brought to the city’s families, or the racial tensions that still crop up in a “dark blue region of a blue state.”

San Francisco faces the same problems that plague any city of its size. But what if that could change?

The San Francisco Foundation recently announced that it is committing $50 million to “investments that are aligned with its mission to building inclusive prosperity and racial equity in and around San Francisco.” In other words, the Foundation is committing 6.3% of its $800 million endowment to investment opportunities that will be good for the city of San Francisco — and they’re looking to invest with women- and minority-owned asset managers.

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MDRC Confirms: Grameen Loans Help Fight Poverty for U.S. Women

A Grameen America borrower with child. (Photo credit: Grameen America)

Micro-loans, in which poor people are provided small loans so that they can jump-start or grow an enterprise, are often associated with least developed countries, but, according to a new study, this model has proved highly effective when applied to poor American women over the last decade.

The Grameen Bank model was pioneered in Bangladesh during the 1970s and 80s, and aimed to reduce poverty through the provision of loans, financial training, and peer support to those unable to access traditional credit mechanisms. It turned out a that small amount of funds enabling the purchase of such basics as tools, seeds, and livestock enabled many to lift themselves out of the most desperate kinds of poverty.

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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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Vision and Decision-Making: Straight Talk from a DAF Giving Expert

Eileen R. Heisman, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust, shares ideas and strategies for philanthropists.

Eileen R. Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), has a 30 year record of professional achievements in philanthropy, but it all started  with being a social worker. I wanted to learn more about Heisman’s early social work origins, and also about how she led NPT from a small nonprofit in 1996 to the $6 billion dollar grantmaking organization it is today, making an indelible imprint on the landscape of modern philanthropy.

When we began our conversation, I asked Heisman to comment on what it felt like to run the country’s largest host organization for Donor Advised Funds. “When I read my own bio, sometimes it feels kind of like an out of body experience,” said Heisman with a chuckle. “But it’s nice to be able to say all those things are true.”

For all the time and energy Heisman has put into growing NPT over the past 22 years, she says the things that have kept her up at night were more parenting-related than work-related. Her children are now young adults and Heisman, now age 64 (“I feel like I’m about 39!”), is still steering NPT toward bigger and better things, with NPT now managing over 7,400 Donor Advised Funds and continuing to grow. NPT has raised over $13 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages $7.4 billion in charitable assets, making it one of top 25 largest grantmaking institutions in the US.

Vision + Decision-Making = Success

With her breadth of experience, I asked Heisman to talk about what attributes she sees as critical to success for philanthropists today.

“Two things are key to success: having a vision and being able to make decisions in a timely way,” said Heisman. “Even if you make a wrong decision from time to time, people want to see leaders who are decisive.”

Heisman emphasized that being able to envision growing the organization is critical, even if plans take a change of direction. “I like planning and I would do a lot of incremental planning about how it was going to work.”

In terms of how to make decisions, Heisman advised, “knowing your conscience and being a great data gatherer,” as a key combination.

While seemingly obvious, Heisman says paying attention to these two key elements — vision and decision-making — will put you leagues ahead as an organizational leader. Next, Heisman credits her ability to hire well and form successful professional relationships with her staff. “Hiring smart people, making sure they have enough resources to do their job, that they’re well trained, and relying on them when you’re not the best person to make a decision,” said Heisman. “I loved the idea of hiring people who were better at something than I was, and giving them the chance to do it.”

Leadership: It’s About the Relationships

I commented on how Heisman depended on relationships to build the  strength of NPT as an organization. “I think relationships are almost more important than knowledge sometimes — learning who you can trust, who is a big picture thinker, who is a detail person, who do you go to when you’re upset and angry, who can go to who to process information and they aren’t threatened by it or upset by it.”

For Heisman, this kind of relationship-building is a big key to NPT’s growth over the past two decades. She talked about keeping a close eye on the roster of people around her, choosing carefully who to be in contact with, and what the intent is of the relationship. “I love having those thought partners around me.”

Heisman also described how leaders need to be fluent in dealing with disagreement, and create an environment where people can be different but also stay connected. “So if you have divergent points of view, how do you have civil discourse about it?”

Women’s Leadership and Political Giving

On the role of women in leadership, Heisman expressed frustration at the slow pace of change. “I think that women are really effective leaders, and I’m astounded at how few women are on corporate boards or running publicly traded companies. I find it really sad and unfortunate.”

While criticizing the lack of leadership opportunities for women, Heisman suggested that the most effective way for many high net worth women to influence this problem is through political support for candidates and PACs.

“The way women come to the forefront on topics like gender equality is through PAC’s and supporting campaigns of the leaders taking us there,” said Heisman. She sees tremendous potential for philanthropic women to direct some of their resources toward gender equality political action. “Philanthropy does effect the fringes of how some ideas get started, but the real substantial things happen when the government gets involved.”

Heisman cautioned, though, that NPT’s intent is not to direct donors in giving in any way. “Donors come to us from all different arenas and political points of view,” she said. “I’m in a different position [at NPT] where my personal points of view are really not important. I really have to stay out of that public discourse, and it’s hard sometimes.”

The Potential Chilling Effect of the New Tax Law on Small Nonprofits

I offered Heisman a chance to comment on the effects of the Trump tax laws on charitable giving, particularly the laws which took away the charitable giving deduction for a certain segment of the middle class. “I think small gifts to charities are going to decrease,” said Heisman. “The question is how much. You need two or three or four years of data points to see a trend. Maybe by that time, the tax laws will change back to being more reasonable relative to giving.”

“Another trend is even scarier,” added Heisman. “Twenty million fewer households are giving in the US, but giving is going up. So the wealthier are giving the lion’s share of the gifts in the US and regular everyday households are already giving less. Then we add the tax law change,” said Heisman, and suggested that the new tax law will likely even further exacerbate the trend of reduced giving from small donors and increased giving from the ultra-rich.

“Do we want giving in the US to be only the domain of the ultra wealthy? I think no,” said Heisman. She sees philanthropy’s definition as tied to the definition of a democracy in which people can use charitable giving to organize at the grassroots to improve their communities. “I think the idea that fewer people are giving is concerning,” she said, “And if I were running a small human services charity in a community, I would be concerned right now.”

Heisman described a dynamic whereby high net worth givers get cultivated by hospitals, universities, and research institutions and end up giving large sums in that direction. Meanwhile, small charities have a hard time accessing wealthy individuals, so there is a big division between the haves and the have-nots in how this plays out.

“This is going to be the first time people are trying these new regulations on,” said Heisman. “There’s been a big push on Capitol Hill to have a universal deduction, where people get to deduct every charitable gift regardless of where they stand for income. If I had my wish as a policy maker, that’s what I would be promoting.”

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Reasons to be Thankful: Gender Alpha and Record Voter Turnout

This is just a quick post before taking a few days off to enjoy time with family and friends. We will be covering several important events in upcoming posts, including a fascinating call on Gender Alpha with Suzanne Biegel and David Bank, where they discussed how “Gender Alpha” is all about identifying the specific dividends that gender lens investing yields. Biegel and Bank are co-producers of November’s Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London. Guests on the call included Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris Wealth Partners, which specializes in gender lens investing and research.

And one other quick note to acknowledge the significance of the recent elections, where voter turnout was higher than it has been in 104 years. That’s right — the last time voter turnout was as high as it was in 2018 was in 1914, before women even had the right to vote. Now that women and millennials are getting into the driver’s seat with social change, we hope to see even better voter turnout in 2020. I don’t know about you, but I am mighty thankful that people are finally getting the message (it seems!) about the importance of civic engagement. That could mean in 2020 we elect a President that gets us back on track in terms of valuing safety, diversity, and systems change to address inequality.

Coming up soon, we’ll also be providing some news on Women Moving Millions and its new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, and will be sharing and discussing WMM new Board Chair Mona Sinha’s Education Curriculum for WMM members, which will be launching in February.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Empowering Women by Changing Men: Promundo’s Global Fight for Gender Equality

Giovanna Lauro, Vice President of Programs and Research at Promundo, talked with Philanthropy Women about finding key entry points for reaching men, in order to change gender norms. Some of these entry points include sports and prenatal education for families.

A great deal of emphasis in feminist philanthropy is placed on women, and changing the role of women in society. But what about men? What role can men play in challenging gender norms, and what initiatives are gender equality organizations taking to reach men?

To further explore these questions, I spoke to Giovanna Lauro, Vice President of Programs and Research at Promundo, by telephone from her D.C. office. Promundo was founded in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1997, working with young men in Rio’s poorest communities on transforming gender norms and concepts of masculinity. It has since taken that approach far beyond Brazil, and its website notes, “Promundo works to promote gender equality and create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls.”

The organization’s expansion from the global South to global North makes it an anomaly, as many NGOs start in wealthy countries and then move into less developed nations. Regardless, Lauro says that there is a commonality to the organization’s work, wherever it takes place, namely, “a frustration with the limits of putting the burden of change on women and girls only.” One can work to empower women and girls all one wants, but it’s a tough mandate without change occurring among the other half of the population.

Promundo’s Washington, D.C. office opened in 2011, allowing the organization to expand its reach globally to more than 40 nations. To date, Promundo’s projects and technical assistance have reached roughly 10 million individuals, including over 4,500 health professionals, 22,000 educators, 1,400 members of the police and military, and 300 government officials.

The emphasis on masculinities—what it means to be a man—separates Promundo from many NGOs in the gender-equity field. Lauro argues that continued female empowerment requires men and boys to see themselves as allies and partners, not adversaries. Moreover, change is not a zero-sum game; men and boys also gain in many ways when rigid attitudes toward gender are challenged.

Promundo’s “Manhood 2.0” project, developed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, aims to prevent teen dating violence by engaging young males aged 15-24 in understanding the effects of harmful gender norms. Manhood 2.0 is modelled on Promundo’s Program H (named after homens and hombres, the Portuguese and Spanish words for men) which launched in 2002. Employed by Promundo and its partners in 34 countries worldwide, Program H is based on research with young Brazilian men who exhibited more gender-equitable attitudes than others in their demographic cohort. Men expressing less rigid attitudes around gender roles typically have peer group support in this area, positive personal experiences around gender equality, and male role models who express support for gender equality.

Stereotypical and rigidly enforced conceptions of gender are toxic to all. Statistics indicate the high rate of male violence against women, but it’s not as if men are untouched by violence. They are twice as likely as women to die of suicide, and comprise over three-quarters of homicide victims in the U.S. The large number of male lives lost in wars and other armed conflicts goes without saying. Research by Promundo and other organizations indicates that many of these negative outcomes have their basis in overly rigid conceptions of masculinity. Promundo’s report “Masculine Norms and Violence: Making the Connections” explores this relationship.

Engaging Men Through Pre-Natal Programs and Soccer

Engaging with young men in the U.S. and abroad around harmful gender norms is a noble goal, but how does one lead the male horse to the trough of gender equity? Firstly, Promundo identifies local partners who can make a difference. “Find a facilitator who believes in what they preach,” says Lauro, “someone who has shown a commitment or potential for working for gender equality.” Next, she says, it’s vital to “incorporate contextual intervention” in recruiting and retaining participants. In other words, don’t place an announcement for a gender-equity workshop in the local paper and expect men to rush the doors. Lauro notes two specific angles that Promundo has tried: fatherhood and soccer.

In Chile (and other locales) sessions on gender norms have been rolled into pre-natal programs for first-time dads. Fatherhood, family, child-rearing and gender norms are intertwined, and Lauro notes that a group for expectant fathers can function as “a place where men can have meaningful discussion around gender and express themselves in a safe space.” Promundo is a sponsor of the State of the World’s Fathers report series examining men’s contributions to parenting and caregiving globally. These are published as part of the Men Care (“a global fatherhood campaign”) which Promundo co-founded and coordinates.

Sports is another approach used by Promundo to recruit young men to explore gender-equity and masculinity. The study “Engaging men to prevent gender-based violence” sponsored by Promundo and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women documents a Brazilian program that used soccer to engage men around the issue of gender-based violence. According to the report, “Sports, particularly weekly football (soccer) matches were used as a venue for dialogue and an opportunity to convey the themes of the workshops.” The same report also details programs aimed at understanding and combating gender-based violence that were organized around the workplace (Rwanda), the health sector (Chile), and the community (India). Regardless of the setting, scale or target of the intervention, “We focus on building local partnerships with local organizations,” says Lauro.

The only places where Promundo implements projects directly using its own staff is on its home turf of Brazil, the United States, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where in 2014 Promundo co-founded the NGO Living Peace with local partners. In Eastern DRC, Promundo has worked to promote gender equity in the wake of a brutal conflict which resulted in millions of people being injured, killed, and displaced. The DRC is notable for a very high level of sexual violence, not just as part of the armed conflict, but also in the home and elsewhere. Promundo’s outreach has sought to combat the prevalence of attitudes and practices, including ones about masculinity, which had embedded gender violence so deeply in that society. “We take into account trauma and how this affects behavior,” says Lauro.

Measuring Concrete Change

Promoting gender equity is not easy, and approaches must vary. She notes that sometimes norms change, and then drive a change in behavior. Other times a behavior—which might be encouraged by a public policy like parental leave for both women and men—can produce a change in attitudes, which subsequently influences behavior, and so on. It is not always easy to separate cause and effect. Regardless, the Italian-born Lauro, who has a Ph.D. in political science from Oxford, and previously served as Associate Director of the Women and Population Programme on behalf of the United Nations Foundation, believes in the power of research. “Our goal is to ensure that we can measure concrete change around attitudes, behaviors and norms,” she says.

To this end, Promundo and the International Center for Research on Women have created the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). This household survey probes men’s and women’s practices and attitudes around gender norms, gender-equality policies, care-work distribution, intimate partner violence, health, economic stress and other issues facing women, men, and families. As of 2017, notes Lauro, IMAGES and IMAGES-inspired studies have been administered to more than 40,000 men and 20,000 women in nearly 40 countries. Moreover, Lauro describes the IMAGES survey as an “open source” tool which “can be used by local organizations to inform their own work.”

Promundo uses research not just to take the temperature of a given community regarding gender-equity, sexual violence and other topics, but also to evaluate whether the programs that it and its partners sponsor are having an impact. Do they really produce a change in attitudes and practices? How, I wondered, can one know if a program simply teaches its participants to talk a good game about gender equity to researchers, but leave the reality unchanged?

Lauro notes that a rigorous attempt to gauge the impact of programs and interventions requires more than asking participants easily-answered questions. “From our research, we know that when we word questions in the positive, everyone answers the politically correct ‘yes.’” In other words, asking, “Do you support equality between men and women?” is likely to elicit positive answers, but more authentic responses come from creative questions. “For example,” says Lauro, “we don’t ask ‘have you ever beaten your partner?’ Instead, we ask, ‘how often have you beaten your partner?’” The idea is to remove the cues that would push respondents toward the “correct” response. Furthermore, says Lauro, to corroborate the trends highlighted in men’s responses, women are surveyed as well to find out if they have noticed a reduction in violence. Finally, notes Lauro, “At times we employ a control group which helps isolate the impact of the intervention.” This commitment to research has helped Promundo weed out or modify interventions which have been ineffective in promoting change.

Lauro has a long history of work in this area, including her Ph.D. thesis, which addressed the double standard of European governments toward the global South on harmful gender norms. The Europeans would advocate for women’s rights in Africa or Asia, but at home would use contentious gender issues as a wedge to demonize or punish immigrant communities rather than protect women. Lauro recommends that issues such as child or forced marriage, wherever it occurs, be “framed first and foremost as a human rights issue rather than a cultural practice.”

Promundo works with NGOs and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. These stakeholders have partnered with Promundo, or adopted their programs and implemented them in communities around the world. Promundo receives funding from bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, international NGOs, and individuals. A range of feminist-friendly foundations also support Promundo, “There is a large pool of funders committed to combating gender-based violence,” says Lauro. Other foundations, she notes, are more interested in thematic work on fatherhood and caregiving, gender and youth, or the ramifications for women of large-scale conflict resulting from local gangs, or from ethnic, tribal, national or other differences. Regardless, funding and advocacy around male conceptions of masculinity and gender represents an important part of the fight for gender equality.

Related:

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Hamutal Gouri: Seven Steps to Growing Feminist Funding Eco-Systems

Hamutal Gouri takes her decades of experience as a feminist funding leader and outlines seven steps we can follow to grow feminist funding ecosystems.

After leading the DAFNA Fund in Israel for over 15 years, Hamutal Gouri has written an overview of how we can grow funding for feminist philanthropy and accelerate social change that is both inclusive and fair, and that engages the larger systems of government in new ways.

In the article, Gouri calls on leaders invested in Israel to do more to safeguard human rights and equality, which are under threat from growing religious and nationalist extremes. She then outlines the unequal status of women in Israel before offering her vision of the future steps needed. The article considers the particular concerns of Israel, including specific religious, security, and social justice contexts of the nation.

From the article:

Women comprise 51 per cent of Israel’s population, yet according to the Gender Index published by the WIPS Center at Van Leer Institute, the gender gap in Israel remains steady in most areas of life. Less than 30 per cent of Knesset members are women; only three out 19 government ministers are women and only 2 per cent of mayors and heads of local and regional councils. Women in Israel still earn up to 32 per cent less for the same work as men, are more exposed to abusive employment practices and comprise 54.6 per cent of people living in poverty.

While these numbers are true for other countries around the world, women in Israel face two unique challenges: coping with the lack of separation between religion and State and living in a violent conflict zone. While the former accounts for the exclusion of women from public spaces and the subjugation of their rights and welfare to conservative religious laws and practices, the latter accounts for our exclusion from political discourse and decision-making on issues of peace and security.

In this political climate, the leadership qualities and unique assets of women who could offer a gendered lens on society and the conflict are often undervalued. Yet there is a great deal of evidence that the active participation of women in public and political life serves to build stronger societies and economies, especially when the voices of diverse women are heard in policy formation and decision-making.

The article also describes the growth of intersectional approaches in Israel, which have helped to connect diverse organizations that share a commitment to gender equality. The steps that Gouri outlines are vividly articulated and align well with other visions of feminist philanthropy. While the steps outlined are specific to the needs of Israel, they can also provide guidance to other nations or organizations that are looking to grow a more feminist approach to their work.

In her seven steps to funding the feminist ecosystem, Gouri calls on the Israeli community to jointly strategize for action with diverse stakeholders, increase engagement of state agencies, learn from the work on the ground, apply a gender lens, get more political, take risks with big gifts for promising approaches, and have a vision that extends beyond short-term fixes. Read the full article at Fathom Journal.

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Potluck Power: How This Women’s Giving Circle Feeds Global Gender Equity

Photo from a 2018 trip to Rwanda for Dining for Women Members to learn about grantees.

Sharing food: one of the ultimate human communing experiences. Now imagine sharing food with a group of generous women who, like you, want to make every dollar they give to charity count toward helping women and girls and addressing gender equality in developing countries.

Welcome to Dining for Women (DFW), a global giving circle dedicated to funding social change for women and girls.  At monthly potluck dinners, members come together and discuss today’s issues impacting women and girls, particularly the organizations being funded that month, and in the process, these 8,000-plus women raise more than a million dollars annually to fight for gender equity. Dining for Women was founded in 2003, and many chapters have already had 10 or even 15 year anniversaries.

“Global citizens,” is how Dining for Women President Beth Ellen Holimon describes the women who participate in the growing movement. “Through member education, grantmaking and advocacy, DFW builds community here in the U.S.,” said Holimon, but that’s only the beginning of their positive impact.

Each DFW meeting helps to raise awareness about how women and girls are experiencing life worldwide, with presentations and information about organizations currently being funded. As they share a meal, members also share camaraderie and open discussion. Big issues now being funded by Dining for Women include helping Syrian refugee women find employment in Jordan and joining UNICEF’s effort to end gender-based violence in South Sudan.

One of the features that got me wanting to know more DFW was the organization’s attention to social policy and advocacy. On June 1 of this year, Betsy Dunklin, Chair of Dining for Women’s Advocacy Committee, sounded the alarm bells in a post about devastating cuts to International Aid proposed in the U.S Government’s 2019 budget. “The Administration has proposed a more than 30% cut to the International Affairs (IA) budget for FY2019,” she wrote. “Dining for Women opposes cuts to the US foreign aid budget because they disproportionately affect women and girls, who already suffer the most from global poverty, inequality, and humanitarian crises. Many of the proposed cuts fall most heavily on gender equality programs.” DFW’s advocacy position on these cuts is fully explained in Raise Your Voices for Women and Girls, DFW’s advocacy guide.

In her call to action, Dunklin also helped members understand the added impact of their advocacy by providing the context in which DFW operates as a member of the US Global Leadership Coalition — a 500 member nonprofit and business coalition. “We have the power as US citizens living in a democracy to stand up for women and girls around the world,” she wrote.

Doubling Down: How Some Organizations Become Sustained Grantees

Another way that Dining for Women amplifies the work they do is by choosing certain organizations formerly funded as a featured grantee for sustained funding. Starting in 2012, DFW began making two- and three-year grants totaling $40,000 — 60,000  to organizations chosen by a Grant Selection Committee. Grantees who have demonstrated significant progress toward achieving grant goals are eligible to become sustained grantees. Organizations such as Girl Determined in Myanmar and the Nepal Youth Foundation are able to get help to achieve specific goals, such as in Nepal, where Napal Youth Foundation is helping to eradicate  “Kamlari,” the traditionally-accepted practice of selling young girls into servitude.

The Impact, Globally and Locally

In January of 2018, DFW Chair Susan Stall shared the latest 2017 stats on impact with members in the newsletter. “Thanks to your record-breaking donations, in 2017 we were able to fund grants and partnerships that directly impacted the lives of nearly 40,000 women and girls in 18 countries around the world,” she wrote.

In the still-small-but-growing world of gender equality philanthropy, that is a significant impact. Imagine if DFW’s membership went from 8,000 to 80,000 — and 400,000 women and girls were reached. Then we might really see the way that gender equality can shift economies and cultures in a positive way.

What It’s All About: Feeding Ourselves, Feeding the World

In case all of this isn’t enough, there are also the DFW recipes — a wide-ranging collection of favorite dishes from all over the world like Bolivia, Guatemala, Myanmar, and Chad. Joining DFW might also mean you get to try out new foods and recognize how different cultures provide nourishment in amazing and creative ways.

Another big plus: in joining DFW, you don’t have to worry about the level of your financial commitment. There is no pledge or yearly minimum. Members pay what they can, with the hope that as they get more supported by and investing in the group, their donation will organically grow.

“As we share food, we share something of ourselves and we honor each other.” So begins the Dining for Women Affirmation that women say collectively when they come together. The affirmation also recognizes the added burden that women experience as the main food providers in much of the world. If you’re one of the main family cooks like me, you probably suffer periodic episodes of cooking burnout. But the benefits of feeding others ultimately seem to outweigh the burdens, particularly for longtime members of DFW who continue to feel inspired and supported in their efforts to value and improve the lives of women and girls.

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London Convening Focuses on Ending Violence Against Women

Left to Right: Marai Larasi (Imkaan); Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK); Emma Watson; Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA–The Young Feminist Fund)

“I think supporting girls and women’s organizations is the greatest hope we have for worldwide transformative change – and my philanthropic choices are grounded in that belief,” said celebrity and activist Emma Watson, at a convening on July 10 in London, sponsored by NoVo Foundation, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy and Ariadne.

Watson also noted that  research across seventy countries concludes that women’s movements are the key factor in enacting policy change. “This makes it all the more shocking that a survey of European foundations found that less than 5 percent of funds were targeted towards girls and women.”

Watson chaired the opening session of From Violence to a Place of Power: A Funder Convening on Movement Building to End Sexual Violence. The convening was facilitated by Jude Kelly, and explored the many ways that philanthropy can increase its support for ending gender-based violence.  The conversation in London was a “deepening” of an earlier convening held in April in New York, which brought together U.S.-based funders on the subject. In London, the goal was to examine the UK and European context for the movement to end violence against women and girls.

The day-long convening examined the fact that gender equality advocates face growing threats to their work and require more resources to preserve the gains women have already made, and move toward Sustainable Development Goal Number 5: the attainment of global gender equality.

Watson joined activists Nasra Ayub (Integrate UK), Marai Larasi (Imkaan), and Devi Leiper O’Malley (FRIDA–The Young Feminist Fund), all of whom spoke about the urgent need for funders and donors to hand over control to gender equality movement leaders and give them ongoing financial support to continue their work.

Emma Watson’s giving provides a strong model for other funders to follow. She currently funds more than thirty organizations in the equality and women’s rights space, both in the UK and globally. In the past 12 months alone, Watson has donated $5 million to gender equality philanthropy.  Part of this $5 million went to support the Justice and Equality Fund, which is hosted by Rosa, the UK’s leading women’s fund.

“Long-term partnerships, rather than funding against short-term results, are absolutely critical,” added Watson. “Without flexible, core funding, activists don’t have the room and space they need to be innovative and create long-term change.”

“Young feminist organizing is about holding a line that’s been courageously made by so many others before them, and then advancing that shared agenda in today’s context,” said Devi Leiper O’Malley, one of the panelists from FRIDA — the Young Feminist Fund. “Young women, girls, and trans*youth have the curiosity, anger, openness and drive to create lasting change. Their activism might look different from what has been done before, but it deserves flexible, long-term support and trust from across philanthropy.”

The conference also examined austerity in Britain, which has been cutting back funding for women and girls surviving violence since 2011, with a 31% reduction in funding for gender-based violence prevention from 2011 to 2012. Another panel discussed the rise of authoritarianism across Europe, with panelists representing Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland, and migrant women.

“We are witnessing growing and strong opposition to women’s rights across Europe — and to civil society as a whole,” said Gergana Kutseva of the Bulgarian Fund for Women.

The takeaway for funders: fighting gender-based violence should be a top priority for many more in philanthropy.

“With survivors leading the way, we’re witnessing an unprecedented mass mobilization against sexual violence,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation. “Ending violence against girls and women is fundamental to every philanthropic mission, and there is a huge opportunity for many more funders to join in supporting this innovative and important work.”

Related:

Top 10 Happenings in Feminist Philanthropy for Mid-Summer 2018

Built on Partnership: How This Power Couple Champions Gender Equality

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Carnegie Endowment Identifies How to Increase Women in U.S. Politics

Women’s Funds Show Philanthropy the Way to Transparency, DiversityRead More

Innovation Symposium Will Look at Gender-Based Giving, Participatory Grantmaking

Innovations in International Philanthropy is sponsored by Fidelity Charitable, Veris Wealth Partners, the Boston Foundation, and many other notable partners in the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Good news for the philanthropic sector, as mainstream philanthropy appears to be embracing key concepts and strategies related to gender equality and a more relational way to do grantmaking.

The latest example of this trend? New England International Donors (NEID) and The Philanthropic Initiative’s Center for Global Philanthropy have gotten together to co-host  the 2018 Innovations in International Philanthropy Symposium at MIT’s Samberg Center September 6-7, 2018. The goal of this event is to “propel forward the capacity and impact of internationally-oriented philanthropists, including individuals, families, foundations, investors, and corporate funders.”

But here’s the really good part: this symposium will involve systems strategizing, gender-based giving, and participatory grant-making, all key concepts to feminist philanthropy. Lisa Jackson, managing partner of Imago Dei Fund, will be facilitating a workshop on  “Introducing a Gender Lens to Your Philanthropy.” Jen Bokoff of The Foundation Center and Diana Samarasan of the Disability Rights Fund will workshop the subject of “Taking a Participatory Approach to Grantmaking.”

Impact investing will also be discussed, which aligns with feminist philanthropy in that it encourages the use of alternative models for funding social change like Limited Liability Corporations and funding start-up businesses.

The two-day event has an impressive lineup of speakers and workshops. Check it out:

Agenda

Thursday, September 6, 2018 – at The Boston Foundation

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