Giving circles bring people together to
practice collective philanthropy. In the same spirit, representatives of giving
circles and giving circle networks across the U.S. are now convening to build
power. In April 2019, 82 members of dozens of giving circles in the U.S. met
for two days in Seattle, Washington, to share stories, hopes and plans for
building a stronger giving circle movement. Women are playing a leading role in
Giving Circles Grow and Set Goals
Giving circles allow friends, neighbors, families and people with
religious, civil, cultural and other connections to learn about issues of
shared concern and decide where to donate their money. They are usually
created by women and/or members of ethnic minority, LGBTQ or other marginalized groups — those who
typically hold a lesser share of power and money in the U.S. — though many
open their doors to anyone with common values. Women make up most of their
Starting with a joke about who would be the word hog between the couple, Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Bill and Melinda Gates. The couple talked about their philanthropy in the context of larger political issues such as growing inequality, and shared some of their “surprises” — the theme of their annual letter this year.
Colbert remarked that Bill Gates used to be the richest man in the world, but has now fallen into the number two spot for the world’s most wealthy person. “Well, we’re trying to give it away faster,” said Bill.
“There’s a lot of talk that billionaires shouldn’t exist,” said Colbert, suggesting that too much money accumulating at the top is a failure of capitalism.
“We might be biased,” said Bill with a chuckle. “I think you can make the tax system take a much higher proportion from people with wealth.”
“70%?” asked Colbert.
Bill Gates talked about how tax rates on the rich should be higher, but, “I think that if you go so far as to say that there is a total upper limit,” that could be problematic for the economy. Colbert then asked what the Gateses have observed as they travel the world and visit other countries with higher tax rates on the wealthy. “How is that going for them?” asked Colbert.
“Not necessarily that well,” said Melinda Gates. “There’ll be many times we’re in France, and you’ll hear, ‘Gosh, we wish we could have a Bill Gates. We wish we could have such a vibrant tech sector,'” but Melinda Gates cautioned that some tax systems dampen growth. In France, Melinda Gates said, “the tax system has been done there in such a way that it doesn’t actually stimulate good growth. So we believe in a tax system that does tax the wealthy more than low income people, for sure,” said Melinda.
“More than presently is being taxed?” asked Colbert.
“Yes,” Melinda said.
“We’ve been lobbying in favor of increasing the estate tax,” Bill broke in, and then went on about how the estate tax used to be higher and could be made higher again to garner more taxes from the rich.
“We do believe that to whom much is given, much is expected,” added Melinda Gates.
Here, Melinda Gates began connecting the narrative to women, and how women’s control of money can be catalytic to global change. Melinda Gates sees philanthropy’s support of women’s empowerment as just the beginning, saying “Philanthropy can never make up for taxes, but it is that catalytic edge,” where experimenting and model-testing can be done before government gets involved to bring health or education initiatives to full scale.
Melinda Gates then talked about one of her big surprises for 2019:
“That cell phone has so much power in the hands of a poor woman. […] When she has a digital bank account — they’re not welcomed at the bank, they don’t have the money to get on the bus to get there, and if they do, they might get robbed — but when she can save one or two dollars a day on her cell phone, she spends it on behalf of her family, on the health and education of her kids, and she also starts to see herself differently, she sees herself as a working woman, and she’ll tell you, her husband sees her differently, if she’s in India, her mother-in-law sees her differently. Her older son sees her differently when she buys him a bike. So it’s not the only tool, but it’s one of the tools that will help empower women.”
There is a lot packed into that short message, but it helps elucidate how Melinda Gates sees the role of women in the global economy, and where she is focusing for hope — on financial empowerment, and on women using technology to come out of isolation and into community, so they are no longer controlled by repressive gender norms.
On the question of whether billionaires like Howard Schultz should run for President, Bill Gates spoke for the couple and said that, “We work with politicians but neither of us will choose to run for office.” Colbert then presented the couple with honorary t-shirts saying: GATES 2020: Not an Option.
All of this mainstream media discussion of women’s empowerment is good news for feminist philanthropy. As more progressive women donors get in front of the cameras, they are feeding a healthy trend of growing awareness about the value of women’s leadership.
Wow, what a read. I had to keep stopping at points to walk around the block and get my core energetics realigned. Jacki Zehner literally pours her heart out in this stunning blog post where she shares about her experiences rising to the C-Suite at Goldman Sachs, as well as her intense love for gender equality philanthropy, which has been expressed in over a decade of devotion to growing one of the most important organizations in gender equality philanthropy, Women Moving Millions.
Zehner starts by letting readers know that this writing is more or less automatic — that is, she is going for a Jacki Unfiltered here. What we learn by reading this piece is that Zehner is a complex leader with significant life experiences that inform her activism for women’s rights.
Ever-considerate of others, Jacki warns us that 14 pages have emerged from this attempt to shine a spotlight on her thinking and feeling life. She then goes on to enter into some of the most exciting (and sometimes painful) thoughts and memories. As just an example, check this out:
If there was such a thing as a ‘finance professional Olympics’, becoming a partner at Goldman, especially as a young woman, would represent a gold medal. Of course, I know that there may be someone who reads this and posts in the comments section something along the lines of “die you wall street whore” as they have in the past when I blog freely about Goldman, but so be it. To that potential person I say in advance, “I hope that has helped you feel better about yourself.” […]
Beyond unflinching glimpses like these into Zehner’s mind, the post also delves into many significant life events, including some serious traumas. Her writing is the kind of material that future (or present) movie-makers will want to read in order to gather key scene details for the inevitable biopic of Zehner’s life. For example, here is just one in a bulleted list breaking down the timeline of Zehner’s progression:
Finding Women Moving Millions – 2002 to 2009. As the years from 2002 onward moved forward, I was spending more and more time with philanthropic groups focused on girls and women, and in particular women’s funds. My interest in supporting women’s leadership poured in to my work with various non-profits, and one of the main reasons I loved Women’s Funds so much. I had joined the board of the Women’s Funding Network, and it was there that I got to the know the incredible Chris Grumm. She became, and still is, a role model for me for courageous leadership. She is the one who invited me to consider joining the Women Moving Millions Campaign, as she was a co-founder of it. WMM at the time was a campaign to encourage women to make million dollar commitments to women’s funds. Again, holy shit, I could go on and on and on right here, but I won’t. The need to know piece for the rest of this story is that this moment was transformational for me. Why? Because the act of making that commitment, the moment of stepping onto a stage at the Brooklyn Museum to have a group photo taken by Annie Leibowitz to mark that moment in history where for the first time women of means came together to fund women at the million dollar level, helped me to see clearly what the next stage of my life would be about: helping to unlock the resources of high-net worth women to support other women, and more broadly, gender equality. […]
It’s quite wonderful that Zehner has the clarity to speak about these experiences and mark how these transformations happened for her. By doing so, she is increasing the chances manyfold that other women will get up their courage to do the same.
One other sentence toward the end really popped out at me for how it evoked the shared effort that Women Moving Millions summits are, and how this results in shared experiences that can refuel our courage and make us more powerful. Zehner writes:
The WMM summit 2018 could not have been more incredible from start to finish. (My next long post will be about it all.) I am in awe of how beautiful the program was (thank you JESS), how perfectly it was executed (the WMM and TES team), how open people were (thank you attendees), how much people shared (thank you speakers), and how everyone trusted that we, WMM, had created a safe place for everyone to be their most vulnerable and by definition, their most powerful.
I don’t want to overshare or overanalyze here. I just want to thank Jacki Zehner (as I have privately and will now publicly) for her brave years of service to the community through Women Moving Millions. And then point everyone to Jacki’s blog to read the post and let it open your heart and mind.
Both the Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions are in Seattle today, meeting with their members. The Women Moving Millions event is co-hosted by the Gates Foundation, and both groups will be meeting up to discuss their work in the evening at the Gates Foundation.
One might wonder if this is an indicator of the increasing involvement of the Gates Foundation in gender equality philanthropy. And, in fact, the evening will close with a cocktail hour for the Women’s Funding Network hosted by Women Moving Millions at the Gates Foundation, so there will be some time for the three networks to compare notes.
The focus of the Women’s Funding Network meeting is Women+Power. The program includes an overview of the day from Tuti Scott, Founder and President of Imagine Philanthropy, and includes panels on diversity, equality, and inclusion, as well as an evening cocktail reception hosted by Women Moving Millions at The Atrium, at the Gates Foundation. Teresa Younger, CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, will also be presenting on a panel with Melanie Brown, Senior Program Officer for U.S. Policy and Advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Cat Martin, Vice President of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase. The full program is here.
At the same time that all this was going on, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures, announced the formation of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, which will aim to increase gender diversity in STEM occupations. In response to a survey produced by Pivotal Ventures, showing the poor representation of women, particularly women of color in STEM, a coalition of companies will now devote $12 million in funding to address the problem. More on that here.
We at Philanthropy Women look forward to learning what these two powerful women’s funding networks come away with from these Seattle meetings. We’re hopeful that more of the Gates Foundation’s resources can be redirected to gender equality causes, since there is a strong need for this kind of movement-building. If a more substantial amount of philanthropy focused on feminist strategies, movements for justice, inclusion, and systems change would have more fuel than ever, and we might start to see how women’s leadership can guide us toward a more sustainable planet.
A new volume for feminism history buffs has arrived on the shelves — and it’s a biggee. And while based in history, the book reflects the current zeitgeist of the women’s movement, which is continuing to grow and become more intersectional. Roxane Gay, who gives the forward to the book, credits Kimberlé Crenshaw (one of our top posts is an interview with Crenshaw exploring her work to fund women and girls of color) with helping keep feminism “alive and well” and advance the movement in recognizing the complexity of identity in modern culture.
The book starts out at The Oxford Conference, where author D-M Withers, a museum curator and respected proponent of women’s cultural history, makes the argument that this was one of the notable beginning points to modern feminist organizing. The conference was meant to be on women’s history, but discussions at the conference ranged into home and family, capitalism, and psychology. Toward the end of the conference, Selma James, an activist since the 50’s, talked about feminism within the context of the anti-imperialist struggle, and recognized that “women [were] just a sector within that.” Hence, some of the roots of intersectionalism can be traced back to the Oxford Conference. As a point of interest, men ran the childcare at the Oxford conference to enable women to participate more fully — an excellent way for them to serve as allies to the early movement.
The book discusses in detail pivotal historical events like the Vietnam War, and provides tons of pictures from the early era — giving the reader a visceral sense of the way early feminists used media to present their ideas to the public. For a feminist like me whose mother subscribed to Ms. and who remembers seeing the Battered Wives edition of Ms. with the woman’s bruised face, the book is also an interesting walk down memory lane, helping me to recall how that image broke through the silence about violence against women.
The Feminist Revolution comes right up to modern times, with pictures from the 2017 women’s march ending the book. “In an era of rising right-wing nationalism, militarism, capitalist intensification, and border violence, the resources provided by feminist activism and thought are invaluable and more necessary than ever,” says the final chapter, Liberation Without Limitation.
Now that the Women’s Marches are bringing the struggle for gender equality back to the streets, The Feminist Revolution is making a timely debut. With more than 200 color illustrations as well as essays and oral histories, the book is a creative and diverse new resource for the feminist community.
And it’s not just one day. It’s the entire weekend.
And it’s not just about marching. It’s about participating in democracy.
The Women’s March for 2018 is about what it means to be part of a society that values equality and freedom, and it’s about getting more people to the polls to elect the defenders of those values.
After the overwhelming success of last years’s Women’s March, the creators of the event developed a nonprofit organization called Women’s March Alliance in order to facilitate movement activity. This year, over 200 events for the Women’s March will happen on both the 20th and the 21st. On the 20th, New York City will start its rally at 11 AM at 72nd street, marching past Columbus Circle by 12:30. In Washington, DC on the 20th, the march will start at the Reflecting Pool and go to the White House, with speakers to present on the steps of Lincoln Memorial.
On the 21st, Nevada will have its Power to the Polls Launch starting at 10 am. Also on the 21st, Athens, Greece will start its rally in Syntagma Square end in front of the Embassy of the United States in Athens.
All around the country and world, for two days, people will rally peacefully for the cause of gender equality and justice. And who are the sponsors of these events? The Exclusive Premier sponsor is Planned Parenthood of America. The Presenting Platinum sponsor is NRDC, the National Resource Defense Council. Social Justice sponsors are Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Movement friends include the ACLU, the AFT, Human Rights Campaign, Movement is Loud, 1199SEIU, and Moveon.org. The sponsors and partners page for the Women’s March website also has an extensive list of partner organizations, including many longtime organizations in the women’s space like the National Organization for Women (NOW), Women Thrive Alliance, Women for Women International, and dozens of others. Other larger partners include Amnesty International, YWCA America, and the National Association of Social Workers (my professional association!). A huge number of artists have also signed on for the Women’s March.
These events are not just for the rights and equality of women, but the rights and equality of all human beings. The Women’s March is a valuable opportunity for the resistance to show its diversity — shining a light on race and gender equality as well as on reproductive, LGBTQIA, worker’s, civil, disability, immigrant, and environmental rights.
This is our first year here at Philanthropy Women, and these our inaugural awards. They go to recipients who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy. These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently biased toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we will cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.
Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership
The need for coordinating funding efforts is stronger than ever, and certain leaders are doing much of the legwork to bring together different constituencies under the same tent. Donna Hall is one of those leaders. With her collaborations with others to create Emergent Fund, which was later joined by Democracy Alliance, Donna Hall has been networker extraordinaire for the purpose of bringing together donors who share a cause and purpose. For these reasons, we award her the Philanthropy Women Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership.
General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership
The Star Wars reference helps to conceptualize the longstanding nature of Helen LaKelly Hunt’s thought and strategy leadership in feminist philanthropy. Like high-ranking General Organa of the Resistance, Hunt has weathered decades of storms for gender equality philanthropy and has emerged time and again with more strength and courage. Her multifaceted powers are an inspiration to many not only in philanthropy but also in history and social science, as Hunt has made a strong case for revising feminist history in her book, And the Spirit Moved Them. She has also helped create many of the women’s foundations that are the heart of grassroots feminism today. Along with all this, Hunt, in collaboration husband Harville Hendrix, has developed an amazing model for therapy called Relationships First (I know because I use Relationships First skills in my own work as a therapist and experience the way feelings change from anger to curiosity with the model.) For these reasons, we award Helen LaKelly Hunt the Philanthropy Women General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership.
One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy
Emily Bove is at the helm of Women Thrive Alliance, and does amazing work to bring the agenda of global gender equality into public view. This past year, Bove showed us the way SDG’s need to be the focus in order to coordinate efforts in the fight for gender equality. Bove continues to be a frontline advocate in political spheres for more attention to women and girls. For these reasons, we award Emily Bove the Philanthropy Women One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy.
Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy
Gloria Feldt, who tirelessly pushes the envelope for women’s leadership, also spearheaded a most excellent alliance this past year with Lyft, the up-and-coming taxi company giving Uber a run for its money. Feldt and her team at Take the Lead made Take the Lead Day, November 14, a Lyft discount day, and also got the rideshare service collaborating with local domestic violence shelters in Arizona to provide rides for survivors. Take the Lead Day had strong participation across the globe, with 217 cites and 26 countries around the world taking action for women’s leadership parity. Getting Lyft and others to sign on as sponsors was a great way to help corporations pay attention to gender equality. For these reasons, we award Gloria Feldt the Philanthropy Women Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy.
Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat started last year strong as her foundation led 100 Days of Action for Women and Girls. She finished up even stronger, launching Together We Lead, a women’s leadership initiative that brought in several corporate founding sponsors including Capital One, Deloitte, Nestle, Edelman, and Audi. Lockwood-Shabat is well-known in women’s philanthropy circles for developing and sustaining one of the strongest and most effective women’s funds in the country, with a particular focus on young women and girls of color. For these reasons, we award Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat the Philanthropy Women Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds.
She Persisted Award for Feminist Foundation Leadership
Every time a new political calamity would occur this past year, I would wonder who would be out front with a strong statement and response from the feminist community. Time and again, the early and often responder was Teresa C. Younger and the Ms. Foundation for Women. Younger also had a hand in writing A Blueprint for Women’s Funds: On Using Finance as a Tool for Social Changewhich helps to identify a path for restructuring finance with further integration of capital with the agenda of gender equality. For these reasons, we award Teresa C. Younger the Philanthropy Women ‘She Persisted’ Award for Feminist Foundation leadership.
Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality
Jessica Chastain narrated an important film that we covered this past year, I am Jane Doe, directed by Mary Mazzio, which has helped address sex trafficking of children in America, and expose how corporate and nonprofit interests cloak themselves in “freedom of speech” language as they fund the protectors of this lucrative life-destroying business. Chastain has since proven herself to be a powerful member of the coalition of Hollywood women coming forward for #Timesup, the follow-up to #Metoo, which demands accountability in the film industry for sexual harassment and abuse. For these reasons, we award Jessica Chastain the Philanthropy Women Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality.
Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership as an Organization
Starting and sustaining a new feminist organization in today’s regressive political climate is extra challenging, but good ideas and women just can’t be kept down. That’s what we see when we look at FRIDA, a new global feminist organization focused on social change. FRIDA is leading the way in grantmaking at the grassroots for media and attention to gender equality in places like Poland, Egypt, and Colombia. For these reasons, we award FRIDA the Philanthropy Women Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership in Women’s Philanthropy.
Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality
CREDO gives a large percentage of its corporate philanthropy dollars to gender equality, and Ray Morris, as CEO of CREDO, appears to be continuing the company’s 30-year commitment to gender equality funding. In fact, gender equality accounts for about 11.7% of CREDO’s funding for progressive causes. Imagine if every corporation gave 11.7% of their philanthropy dollars to gender equality. We would be able to accelerate the progress of gender equality movements and reach critical mass sooner. For these reasons, we award CREDO Mobile the Philanthropy Women Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality award.
League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy
No awards list for gender equality philanthropy would be complete without acknowledging the significant role of the NoVo Foundation, which has devoted substantial funds to address the rights and freedoms of young women and girls of color. One of the larger grants that NoVo recently made was to the Young Women’s Freedom Center in California, to fight for girls involved in the juvenile justice system, who are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized young women in our communities. Co-founded by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, NoVo Foundation provides an excellent model for how couples can partner for gender equality philanthropy. For these reasons, we award NoVo Foundation the Philanthropy Women League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy.Read More
I’ve been listening to Hillary Clinton’s What Happened in spurts over the past few days, and it’s time to start sharing some of the highlights. In her own voice on audio, Clinton speaks on a wide range of topics related to her political life. In particular, Clinton speaks with regret about taking speaking fees from large financial corporations and analyzes how the alt-right’s slandering the Clinton Foundation skewed the election.
I am now on Chapter 9, and this is when What Happened gets very relevant to philanthropy. I highly recommend listening to the book on audio — it really helps to have the words spoken by Hillary Clinton, who is destined for legendary status in the history of women’s advancement, whether she won the presidency or not.
From Hillary Clinton:
My life after leaving politics had turned out to be pretty great. I had joined Bill and Chelsea as a new Board member of the Clinton Foundation which Bill had turned into a major global philanthropy after leaving office. This allowed me to pursue my own passions and have an impact without all the bureaucracy and petty squabbles of Washington. I admired what Bill had built, and I loved that Chelsea had decided to bring her knowledge of public health and her private sector experience to the foundation, to improve its management, transparency, and performance, after a period of rapid growth.
At the 2002 International AIDS conference in Barcelona, Bill had a conversation with Nelson Mandela about the urgent need to lower the price of HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa and across the world. Bill figured he was well positioned to help, so he began negotiating agreements with drug makers and governments to lower medicine prices dramatically and to raise the money to pay for it. It worked. More than 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries now have access to cheaper HIV AIDS treatment. Right now, out of everyone being kept alive by these drugs in developing countries around the world, more than half the adults and 75 percent of the children are benefiting from the Clinton Foundation’s work.
It is shocking to consider the real-world positive impact of the Clinton Foundation’s work, and the degree to which the alt-right’s skewed portrayal of the Clinton Foundation might have influenced public opinion during the election. Hearing Clinton speak about it, it becomes clear that more must be done to investigate what happened.
Clinton goes on to detail the extensive philanthropic work the Clinton Foundation does in improving nutrition and exercise in public schools, protecting endangered species, addressing climate change in the Caribbean, and more. Then, she talks about my favorite part. Read on:
When I joined the Foundation in 2013, I teamed up with Melinda Gates the Gates Foundation a to launch an initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project to Advance Rights and Opportunities for Women and Girls around the world. I also created a program called Too Small to Fail, to encourage reading, talking and singing to infants and toddlers, to help their brains develop and build vocabulary. […]
None of these programs had to poll well or fit on a bumper sticker; they just had to make a positive difference in the world. After years in the political trenches, that was both refreshing and rewarding.
I can imagine what a difference Clinton was experiencing as she spent more time with the Clinton Foundation and started to build her own sense of strategy into the organization’s mission. But her involvement with her own family’s foundation was destined to have devastating consequences to her political career.
I knew from experience that if I ran for president again, everything that Bill and I had ever touched would be subject to scrutiny and attack, including the foundation. That was a concern, but I never imagined that this widely respected global charity would be as savagely smeared and attacked as it was. For years, the foundation and CGI had been supported by republicans and democrats alike. Independent philanthropy watchdogs, Charity Watch, Guidestar, and Charity Navigator, gave the the Clinton Foundation top marks for reducing overhead and having a measurable, positive impact. […]
But none of that stopped brutal partisan attacks from raining down during the campaign.
I have written by the Foundation at some length because a recent analysis published in the Columbia Journalism Review showed that during the campaign, there was twice as much written about the Clinton Foundation as there was on any of the Trump scandals, and nearly all it was negative. That gets to me.
It gets to me, too. In a big way. It is a wrong that must be addressed by a full investigation into the media manipulation that skewed the election. It was nearly impossible to learn real information about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Even my 10 year old daughter was coming home from school with talking points for me about how Clinton’s emails needed to be more fully investigated.
Back to Hillary:
As Daniel Borochoff, the founder of Charity Watch put it, “If Hillary Clinton wasn’t running for President, the Clinton Foundation would be seen as one of the great humanitarian charities of our generation.”
That’s right. The fake news on the Clinton Foundation may have had a profound impact, given that there was twice as much of that fake news heaped on the American media consumer than any of the much more atrocious news stories about Donald Trump, including his sexual assault of a woman and his University’s fraudulent dealings.
I hope to share more about the book as I continue on, but there is no doubt that you should listen to it yourself. For what it’s worth, I also find listening to the book recharges my battery for making the democratic party a stronger entity. The urgency of the party’s need to take back the country in the next election has never felt so real. The book also renews my respect for Clinton and her life work. She is not a perfect human being, but she is a darn good one, and she would have made an excellent leader of our country.
Philanthropy Women will also publish a review of the book from Tim Lehnert in the coming weeks.
Leaders from eight women’s funds across the country that spearheaded the Young Women’s Initiative received the 2018 Leadership and Diversity Award, given by the The Women’s Funding Network at their annual summit, taking place this week in San Francisco.
The New York Women’s Foundation is a 2017 recipient of The Women’s Funding Network’s Leadership and Diversity (LEAD) Award, for launching the first Young Women’s Initiative in partnership with the New York City Council and inspiring similar efforts by women’s foundations across the country.
“The presidents of these foundations have shown ingenuity and fortitude in their vision of young women and focus on young women of color as advocates, and spokespeople with direct access to legislators and other decision-makers,” said Cynthia Nimmo, Women’s Funding Network CEO.
The LEAD award celebrates leaders who have increased funding for programs that promote gender equity and diversity through their innovation and risk-taking in the philanthropic sector.
“We are proud that New York led the way in creating the nation’s first-ever Young Women’s Initiative and I am honored to receive this recognition with seven colleagues who have launched similar programs,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation. “We look forward to welcoming additional locales to the effort in the coming year.”
The 2016 White House Council on Women and Girls spotlighted the Young Women’s Initiatives at their 2016 United State of Women Summit, where they announced a new partnership called Prosperity Together, which would invest $100 million over five years in advancing rights and opportunities for young women and girls of color.
2017 LEAD Awardees:
Jeanne Jackson, Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham
Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California
Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Dallas Women’s Foundation
Ruby Bright, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis
Lee Roper Batker, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
Ana Oliveira, New York Women’s Foundation
Irma Gonzales (CEO) and Elizabeth Barajas Roman (former CEO), Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, Washington Area Women’s Foundation
A massive defunding for women is now under consideration in the United States Senate. All told, it represents billions of dollars annually that will come straight out of primarily women’s wallets.
You may not usually think of the federal government as a philanthropic institution. Yet from our country’s start, congressional acts have subsidized various segments of the population and for a variety of reasons. Take the 1792 Postal Act. A spirited debate went on in the second session of Congress, over maintaining access to information. That Congress voted to create low postal rates for newspapers and to improve roads by creating postal routes to ensure expansion and development of our fledgling country, rather than solely serve existing communities. Americans still benefit from reduced media postal rates today.
The proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) put forth by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 115th Session is an entirely different matter. It will adversely impact the finances of women – particularly poor women and women of color, and all rural people, especially women. By cutting off funding – just so the wealthy 1% can get tax breaks – American adult women, 126 million strong, will again have to shell out of pocket money for all kinds of basic health care or forego health services, often to the detriment of their own well-being and the well-being of their families. People will die as a result of this bill. The greater proportion of those deaths will be women.
Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated it succinctly, “It is outrageous that a group of men are negotiating to make it harder for women to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy and harder to raise a healthy child.”
The Impact on Medicaid
The Better Care Reconciliation Act proposes gigantic cuts in Medicaid, rolling back the expansions that were put in place by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. An estimated $772 Billion will be siphoned off from this program that benefits low income people. This impacts 25 million women in the US, who are 36% of the Medicaid beneficiaries. Their children, under age 18, are another 44% of Medicaid recipients. Over the first 10 years of this proposed bill the deep cuts into medicaid are expected to be 25%, but in the 2nd decade starting after 2027, the cuts go far deeper to 35%.
These Medicaid cuts threaten rural hospitals. Simply, many will close. As a group, 14% of their budgets come through medicaid reimbursements for their services.
Though not named, criteria specifically targets Planned Parenthood for the chopping block, however, at present, only for one year. This vital health service agency provides everything from cancer screenings to birth control. It has historically served one in five women in America. Planned Parenthood would be denied reimbursement, like other health care agencies, for the low income women, who comprise over 50 percent of their patients. In 2015 Planned Parenthood affiliates received $553.7 million in government reimbursements and grants for services. This means some 2.4 million women who regularly use the 600 Planned Parenthood facilities across America will no longer have access to these vital services.
Many conservative lawmakers claim women can as easily be served by other existing clinics.“…[Community health centers] are vastly bigger in network, there are so many more of them, and they provide these kinds of services without all of the controversy surrounding this [abortion] issue,”touted House Speaker Paul Ryan in January. But a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that these other community clinics could not make up for the flood of uninsured patients to their doors.
Further, in an investigation by Rewire, numerous of these clinics are religious in affiliation and fail to offer a full range of reproductive health care. They restrict family planning. So, in fact they are both in contradiction to the services offered at Planned Parenthood clinics and fail to adhere to the tenets of the ACA.
Being Female, A Pre-existing Condition
The Senate’s BCRA bill, like the House’s version, the AHCA, avoids outright omissions of the essential success of the Affordable Health Act. That is the inclusion of all people in health insurance despite so-called pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA women universally had to pay higher premiums solely due to their sex as a pre-existing condition.
The BCRA and the AHCA theoretically keep pre-existing conditions. But the laws pass the political buck to states to allow for waivers that effect various types of pre-existing conditions. “Because they [the states] are closer to the public’s health needs,” numerous Congressional supporters of the two bills disingenuously claim, the states can make the decision on how to handle pre-existing conditions.
But combined with all the fiscal cuts, many states will be hard pressed to shoulder the costs related to pre-existing conditions. Instead, the public will get a hodge-podge of programs that will make some states semi-bright beacons of partial health coverage and others wilting lilies where poor citizens are on the hook personally for the high and rising costs of health care that they cannot afford. This dynamic will have larger ramifications on the impact of businesses to attract workers and other developments and programs within certain states. It is a far cry from the 1792 Postal Act. Or Obamacare.
People of color in larger numbers have historically lacked insurance. The ACA started to close that gap, though there is far more to go. The Groundswell Fund and Ms. Foundation for Women are two foundations that for decades have supported women of color health groups addressing these disparities. It is from these groups that new theoretical frameworks and progressive advancements like Reproductive Justice have emerged and that, in turn, have impacted the international health community.
Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of Ms. Foundation said, “The bill is called The Bettercare Act but it will only result in worse care for women of color. [ It ] siphons resources to pay for yet another tax cut for rich white men. It’s clear women of color are in Conservatives’ anti-woman, pro-billionaire crosshairs with this bill, but women of color won’t stand for it. We are literally fighting for our survival.”
The Impact on Birth Control
Not until 1965 did birth control become legal. State laws prohibiting it were struck down that year in Griswold v. Connecticutt by the Supreme Court.
Post 1965, with oral contraceptives available since 1961, almost three generations of sexually active women have practiced birth control. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, contraceptions make up an estimated 30-44% of out-of-pocket spendingfor their health care by sexually active women. The ACA recognizes the unique health needs of women throughout their lifespan. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) created a set of guidelines for women’s care. This includes contraception. An estimated $1.4 billion in the first year alone of Obamacare was saved by 55 million women because they had access to birth control through copayments in their health insurance.
Despite 71% of the US population being in favor of full coverage of birth control, the current administration is not listening. The BCRA does not directly strike down the birth control provision, but already rumors are afoot that the Tom Price lead Health and Human Services Department is about to do away with a component of the benefit.
The first line of attack on this widely acceptable copay is based on religious and moral grounds. In a leaked rule, the Trump administration may be poised to significantly roll back birth control through the ACA. Building on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, it would allow any employer or university to deny coverage based on their beliefs. Religious and moral grounds of women are obliterated. Also, there seems to be an attempt to bypass the mandated 60-day public comment period.
$200 Billion in Incentives Luring Senators to Pass BCRA
Women are primary caregivers, tending to the upbringing of children and caring for aging parents. The majority of this work is unpaid labor. Women’s reproductive organs warrant greater health care. Combined, these factors mean women interact with health care providers far more frequently than men. Cutting funds for some of the most essential health needs of women as provided in the ACA is a direct slap in the face to 51% of the US population.
McConnell’s pulling of the BCRA just before the Fourth of July recess was momentary. To understand better the horse trading that the Senate Majority Leader has at his disposal to get Senators on board his health care train wreck, long time Hill correspondent, Michael McAuliff, has written an especially informative article. Hint, the reporter calls it “Candy”. While he makes no mention of women per se, McAuliff explains how the Majority Leader has about $200 billion worth of incentives at his disposal. That’s our tax money at play, being used as inducements to decimate our health care systems.
Gloria Feldt, who for thirty years worked with Planned Parenthood, ten years as President and CEO of the Federation, and is now co-founder of Take The Lead Women, summed it up this way: “Families who thought their company plans would cover a new child’s birth may find themselves paying a very high premium just to have coverage–and then be bankrupted by devastating costs if there are complications of pregnancy or birth. [The BCRA creates] high profits for insurance companies. Now that’s about as foolish a piece of legislation as you can get.”Read More