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.
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.
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.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sonal Sachdev Patel, writer, activist and CEO of GMSP Foundation.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
So much. I wish I had known to go straight to the grassroots. The civil society leaders on the frontlines know what their communities need and know how to deliver it. But they’re constrained by a funding environment that is too often inflexible, impatient and imperialistic in terms of who drives the agenda. When we started in 2006, we were giving project-based funds. After listening to our local partners, we shifted to unrestricted funding.
What can feminist giving do to help alleviate the COVID-19 crisis?
We’re seeking to answer this question in “Feminist Giving for COVID: Strategies and Models,” the first ever webinar event from Philanthropy Women. Join Editor-in-Chief Kiersten Marek and special guests Marianne Schnall, Surina Khan, and Emily Nielsen Jones to discuss key strategies to support women and girls through COVID.
COVID 19 is presenting humanity with extreme challenges and hardships, and particularly for women and girls, the impacts are, and will be, profound. This 45 minute session will feature expert insights on how to apply a gender lens not only to your funding, but also to your everyday life in COVID, in order to improve our collective response to this unprecedented health crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic and current isolation at home of the majority of people across the globe has led domestic violence incidents to skyrocket. In Australia, Google reports a 75% increase in online searches for help with domestic violence. In China, the number of calls to helplines has tripled, according to the U.N., and here in the US, police departments and hotlines are reporting a 20%-35% increase in cases. Couple this data with the fact that many shelters nationwide are currently closed or not accepting new clients in order to protect the health and safety of staff and current residents, and the picture of this crisis quickly becomes much bleaker.
However, COVID-19 itself is not the problem. The number one reason survivors in the US stay in or go back to abusive situations is financial insecurity. The Center for Disease Control estimates that domestic violence will cost a female survivor almost $104,000 in medical bills, legal fees, property damages, and other related costs. This six-figure debt is exacerbated by the fact that economic abuse (which can take many forms such as not being allowed to work, having little or no access to cash, and being forced to take on debt through physical threats) occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases. Survivors are trapped in violence because it is overwhelmingly expensive to overcome both the cost of being harmed and the devastatingly intricate impact of being financially abused.
Uncertainty Is the Mother of Invention – S. Mona Sinha
How do we respond in uncertain times? A colleague shared these lines from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: ‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’
I have found the simple principles that underlie what we do at Women Moving Millions – Learn, Listen, Connect, and Collaborate – to be valuable tools to guide us towards gender equality and to keep us grounded. In these times of uncertainty, this framework works for me as I try to make sense of my own emotions and how best I can share my skills in this world. Ironically, a month ago, I wrote an article titled, ‘Discovering the Highest and Best Use of my Worth’, and today, it seems more relevant than ever before.
Beth Ellen Holimon’s mission throughout most of her career has been helping women. For the past five years, she has led Dining for Women, dedicated to eradicating poverty in the developing world for girls and women and achieving gender equity, using a unique model for women’s collective giving. DFW educates approximately 8500 member donors on the underlying issues contributing to women’s inequality. Under Holimon’s leadership as President and CEO, the global giving circle has grown to 500 chapters throughout the U.S.
Each month, DFW selects a charity to receive funding though a rigorous vetting process. The organization’s grant making is guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Holimon emphatically asks: “What woman around the world doesn’t want their children to have the very best education, be provided with safe birth options, address climate change, safeguard themselves and their children from domestic violence and acknowledge issues of aging?”
Announced in June 2019 with a historic contribution of $300 million CAD from Global Affairs Canada, the Equality Fund is an innovative model delivering unprecedented resources to feminist movements. Our goal is ambitious: Mobilize $1 billion for gender equality in philanthropic and investment capital in Canada and around the world.
We are shifting power and resources to organizations and leaders on the frontlines. Why? Because this is the most effective way to fight inequality.
One small piece of good news about the COVID crisis is that there seems to be more awareness than ever about its gendered impacts. This piece in the New York Times, for example, discusses how women make up the majority of health care workers, and how, on top of that, they are more likely to take on the caregiving of sick people in their own families, and the care of children.
There are lots of things we can do to mitigate these impacts, but it will take conscious effort to resist the pull toward harmful gender norms. More than ever, we need to defend women’s rightful place in leadership and decision-making to end the COVID crisis. Think about it: if we had more women’s leadership at the table right now, say, for example, if Hillary Clinton had become President, we might be taking a much different approach to addressing this crisis, one that recognizes the validity of science and the need for preventative measures in health care.