2020 is gearing up to be a landmark election year. The American Presidential election is well underway, and new faces and standing politicians alike are finding ways to come together on issues surrounding women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, climate change, and the economy.
A pioneer of online activism and a self-described “unapologetic feminist,” Fine is an author, a social change thought leader, and the founder of the Network of Elected Women (NEW), which connects women who hold local office around the country. She has also served as chair of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, as well as the president of her synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham.
The global reproductive rights community is reeling with the tragic and untimely death of Jennifer Schlecht on November 6, 2019. A devoted and dedicated friend to women and girls everywhere, Schlecht had spent her entire career fostering family planning efforts for women across the globe. In recent years, she directed special attention to the need to provide family planning services for women drawn into humanitarian crises.
In April of 2018, Jennifer Schlecht took a new position as Senior Advisor on Emergency Preparedness and Response at Family Planning 2020. For Family Planning 2020, housed under the umbrella of United Nations Foundation’s activities, Schlecht collaborated with CARE on these issues as well as the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crisis.
Editor’s Note: The following call to action comes from the Chair of the Rhode Island Women’s Caucus, an activist network that spearheaded Rhode Island’s landmark 2019 legislation protecting reproductive rights.
Early last week, the Rhode Democratic State Party released changes to their bylaws that would severely inhibit the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus. Our official statement on the proposed changes can be found here, but in summary the Caucus would not be allowed to speak, raise funds, organize or participate in democracy in any meaningful way.
We are the branch of our state’s Democratic Party specifically working to engage, recruit, train, and support women candidates. Our members fill the halls of the State House in support of legislation critical to the vitality of Rhode Island women and hundreds of our volunteers canvass neighborhoods in support of women candidates each election cycle. We have demonstrated our ability to mobilize and elect democratic women and their allies. Yet, the party leadership distances itself from us at every opportunity.
Tracy Gray has something important to tell women about their philanthropy: do less of it. It’s not the usual message that donors get from the world, and it’s not the usual message here at Philanthropy Women, either. But the context of this message comes from Gray’s conviction that the quicker we grow women’s wealth, the quicker we will move toward a better society.
“Take some of your money out of charity and put it into women-owned or women-led businesses,” Gray advised women donors, in a recent phone chat with Philanthropy Women.
This week’s essential reading for feminist givers comes from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) with their report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem. The report helps to more clearly define the different types of funding that impact feminist movement-building, and makes recommendations for how to increase the most effective forms of funding.
The report cites evidence that, “A remarkable – and disturbing – 99% of gender-related international aid fails to reach women’s rights and feminist organizations directly.” Instead, these funds end up being used by the development agencies that receive them, or get redistributed to mainstream organizations that are not associated with feminist movement builders.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we are primarily concerned with how gender equality movements are being cultivated through charitable giving. However, we occasionally like to step out of our silo and bring in news about how gender equality can be fostered through our collective distribution systems known as governments.
Which is why, today, we want to talk about Elizabeth Warren’s proposed ‘Wealth Tax’. According to Nancy L. Cohen, author, historian and thought leader on gender and American politics, “Warren’s wealth tax would be a massive investment in gender equity.”
“Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax is a massive investment in gender equality – and if enacted, would be a gamechanger for women and girls across the US,” said Cohen, further describing the tax plan as a “bold investments in universal childcare and early education” that would “raise wages for childcare workers” and “unleash the potential of American women – increasing workforce participation and helping to close the gender wage gap.”
In April of 2019, Aimee Allison, Founder of #SheThePeople, brought together 8 of the strongest contenders for the Democratic Presidential ticket in 2020, and had them speak to a key constituency in the upcoming election: women of color. The forum was held at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, and featured Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
In the fall-out around MIT’s prestigiously respected Media Lab over its acceptance of repeated donations from Jeffrey Epstein, a known sexual predator of underaged girls, a number of sheros shine. Each act of these women highlight a different aspect of the larger cultural problem about misogyny and how deeply masculinist views are entrenched at multiple points in society. I list the women here as the chronology of the story unfolded:
Arwa Mboya, MIT graduate student in Civic Media, a division of the Media Lab
Rachel’s Network is a prime example of how women donors in particular use networks to enhance their strategy and address multiple levels of culture with their work, from environmental concerns to helping underserved populations. By championing funding initiatives that pair environmentalism and gender equality and acknowledging the intersection between them, Rachel’s Network has become “one of the most significant funding networks in the ecofeminist space,” as Philanthropy Women has previously reported.
The organization, which has donated about $2 million to relevant causes, is best known for looking at the “other side” of commonly-discussed issues like climate change and environmental preservation, noting how certain marginalized groups often go overlooked by media coverage and funding efforts alike.
What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I wish I’d had a feminist consciousness. Instead, I just accepted the status quo when I embarked on my first profession, as a social scientist at an offshoot of the Rand Corporation, and then, after I returned to law school, as an attorney at a Beverly Hills law firm. I had internalized the cultural devaluation of women – so much so, that when the law firm’s senior partner praised me about how I handled a case, telling me, “You don’t think like a woman,” I thought it was a compliment! That was in the late 1960s, before I woke up, as if from a long drugged sleep, and used my legal training to end women’s subordination, including, through the LA Women’s Center Legal Program, which I founded, writing a brief to the US Supreme Court making the then radical argument that legal equality for women should be protected under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. Since then, empowering women has been central to my professional work as a researcher, writer, speaker and organizer.