Toxic Donors and The Perils of Not Listening to Women

Arwa Mboya, a MIT graduate student, speaks as a rally September 13th on campus organized to protest the university’s accepting Epstein donations. In August she had called for Joi Ito, director of the Media Lab, to resign.

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

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How Rachel’s Network Funds Vital Efforts at US-Mexico Border

Rachel’s Network is helping to fund Border Stories by supporting the Texas Civil Rights Project (Image credit: Border Stories)

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. 

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What’s Good for Women is Good for the World: Riane Eisler

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features social systems scientist Riane Eisler, J.D., Ph.D., president of the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS). Please note that Riane Eisler will be joining Helen LaKelly Hunt and other leaders for a webinar on September 12.

Riane Eisler (courtesy of Riane Eisler)

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. 

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The International Battle for Women’s Water Rights

Five years later, the battle for clean water still rages in Flint, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Flint Rising)

Superheroes no longer wear capes: they wear gym shoes. 

A few days before we spoke on the phone, Gina Luster represented Flint Rising at an activist event in San Francisco. A red-eye flight took her to Grand Rapids, Michigan, then to her home in Flint at 7:30 in the morning. Next, Gina drove to Detroit for a panel appearance at the NAACP’s annual conference. She arrived in the city exhausted and ready for a shower before our interview, only to find out she couldn’t check into her hotel. 

Gina took my call from the hotel parking lot, sitting under a tree next to the Detroit River. Despite the insanity of her schedule and the flickering cell phone signal, her attitude was overwhelmingly positive. 

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Alarm Bells Ringing Over Trump Human Rights Commission

Organizations and legislators are urging the U.S. to protect human rights globally and disband U.S. Secretory of State Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Inalienable Rights.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Women funders with an eye on world affairs and human rights, take note: Critics fear that Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Unalienable Rights” is nothing more than a device for legitimizing a roll-back of gender, reproductive and LGBTQ rights globally.

In his July 8 “Remarks to the Press,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the new commission as an “informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy.” Opposition to the commission has been swift. Led by New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 22 Democratic senators—including presidential hopefuls Bennet, Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren—sent a July 23 letter to Pompeo “expressing deep concern” about the commission. They also noted, “The President’s personal affection for those who have trampled on human rights has stained America’s moral fabric.”

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Protecting the World’s Rivers Through Feminist Leadership

Monti Aguirre, Latin America Program Coordinator, International Rivers (Photo Credit: International Rivers)

In the early 1980s, armed government forces massacred hundred of members of the Maya Achi communities near the Rio Negro highlands of Guatemala. When the Maya Achi resisted eviction from their ancestral homes, the armed forces began a destructive campaign that spanned five massacres and ten communities, killing 441 women, children, and men. Ultimately, around 3,500 people were displaced from their homes, tortured, assaulted, or left without food or livelihood. Recent studies place the number of affected individuals around 11,000.

Why? To make room for a hydroelectric dam on the Chixoy River. 

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Grateful Every Day: Julie Schwietert Collazo, Immigrant Families Together

Julie Schwietert Collazo (Image credit: Julie Schwietert Collazo)

This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Julie Schwietert Collazo, co-founder and director of Immigrant Families Together.

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession? 

I wish I had understood the importance of assembling a top-notch legal and accounting team from the get-go. The problem is, when we started Immigrant Families Together (IFT), it wasn’t with the intention of it becoming an organization. I simply envisioned it as a rapid response group of volunteers that was responding to an acute crisis. Having had strong legal and financial counsel early on would have helped us strategically and operationally.

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45 Years, Millions of Lives: An Interview with Leah Margulies

Leah Margulies is an attorney, human rights advocate, and policymaker who has dedicated her career to bringing corporations to task over their activities that violate human rights.

“Join other people who are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and things will just happen.”

This is how my interview ended with Leah Margulies, a longstanding figure in the world of activism and corporate accountability. A civil rights lawyer, a policy maker, an attorney, an author – Leah’s resume stretches across almost five decades of powerful work. Her career represents the best possible outcome when philanthropy and activism intersect – years of positive action, progress, and the ability to look back and see how far we’ve come.

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Funders, Please Step Up On Crisis in Women’s Media

The current homepage of Rewire News (Photo Credit: Rewire News)

The failure of the feminist movement to tackle changes in public media policy may be one of the most significant shortcomings of my generation. Take these few facts as proof. According to a report from the Global Media Monitoring Project by Margaret Gallagher entitled Who Makes the News?, the percentage of women in newsmaking roles stagnated at 23% from 2005 to 2015. And the output from media that focuses on women? Even more dismal. According to the report, “Across all media, women were the central focus of just 10% of news stories – exactly the same figure as
in 2000.” And just a few more statistics to get your hair standing on end: women only directed 8% of the top 250 grossing films in 2018, and women-directed films reach just 2.75% of screens in the U.S.

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Discussion of Unstoppable Giving Circles Keeps On Expanding

Ms. Magazine, one of the oldest and wisest feminist publications in the world, recently shared work that originated from Philanthropy Women. (Image Credit: Ms. Magazine)

It’s great news when one of the oldest and largest feminist publishers decides to share your micropublishing work. This week, Ms. Magazine shared an article by Julia Travers on the growing giving circle movement.

I feel like I could write a whole memoir on Ms. Magazine and its influence in my life, but I’ll save that for another day. Right now, I just want to thank this most venerable feminist media institution for their support, and acknowledge Julia Travers for her unique talent in writing about this subject.

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