Pat Mitchell: How To Wield Power through Women’s Media

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Pat Mitchell, trailblazing media executive, Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated producer, Board Chair of Women’s Media Center and Sundance Institute, and Editorial Director of TEDWomen.

1. Your new book Becoming A Dangerous Woman chronicles your personal journey to becoming a media trailblazer. What was it like to go back and look at your life through the lens of your multifaceted role in advocating for women?

In this edition of our Feminist Giving IRL series, Pat Mitchell discusses overcoming imposter syndrome and becoming more engaged in fostering women’s media. (Photo Credit: Lynn Savarese)

I began the book four years ago when the Rockefeller Foundation president offered me a writing residency at Bellagio, encouraging me to extend my global mentoring and women’s leadership work by sharing my own stories from life and work. That residency was a great head start, but when I returned home, I found it hard to put aside the highly engaged ‘life’ I was committed to (and enjoying!) to write about my life, especially to look reflectively backward, as I’ve always been someone determined to keep moving forward.

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Could Feminist Funding have Saved the Kamala Harris Campaign?

On December 3, 2019, California Senator Kamala Harris announced her decision to drop out of the 2020 presidential race.

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris wrote in a Medium article, which was also sent out to supporters through email and social media. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

Kamala Harris, the second African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, announced her decision to withdraw from the presidential race in December 2019. (Photo Credit: Kamala Harris For The People)

The Harris campaign’s inability to fund itself raises important questions about the future of political campaigns in the United States. Could the Harris campaign have been saved by a last-minute large-dollar donation?

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Feminist Givers are Fierce Change Agents, but Where are the Men?

How are feminist givers (givers who focus on outcomes for women and girls) different from the rest of philanthropy? Is their approach more impactful than the standard grantmaking approach, and if so, how can it be expanded? A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana helps explore the details about how women’s funds approach their mission. The report, entitled Change Agents: The Goals and Impact of Women’s Foundations and Funds, comes at a time when less than 2% of charitable giving supports women and girls.

A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute discusses how women’s funds provide added impact through policy advocacy and other strategies. (Image credit: WPI Change Agents Report)

The report outlines how women’s funds take an approach that blends grantmaking with a host of other activities that create impact, including research, coalition-building, and social policy advocacy. A majority of women’s funds and foundation, 64%, engage in a range of these activities. Women’s funds and foundations are also highly likely to take an intersectional approach to their work, and to incorporate feedback into their grantmaking process with grantees. Nearly three quarters, 74%, of women’s funds surveyed for the research said that feedback from grantee organizations influences funding priorities and decisions.

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Afghan Women in Media and Politics Risk Lives for Equal Rights

Editor’s Note: While some feminist giving happens through funding, other women change agents risk their lives to do this important work. Below is an article featuring Sediqa Sherzai, who continues to the fight for women in Afghanistan.

KABUL, Dec 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In the decade since launching a radio station in northern Afghanistan, Sediqa Sherzai has braved mines and rocket attacks as the Taliban seeks to silence her. But she has kept going.

A woman journalist working at Radio Rashani in Northern Afghanistan (Image Credit: United State of Peace video Afghan Women Defend Their Rights Against the Taliban)

Fawzia Koofi, the country’s first female deputy of the lower house of parliament, has survived assassination and kidnap attempts. Last year, she was banned from running for re-election – so she set up her own party.

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How Will Facebook Conduct its Data Mining on Women?

An important new question has arisen about the “superpowers” of Facebook and how they will use these powers for good.

Facebook attended this year’s U.N. General Assembly and discussed its five-year commitment “to use data to help partners advance progress on the Sustainable Development Goals — and it has narrowed in on gender data as the place to start,” according to an article on Devex by Catherine Cheney entitled, Inside Facebook’s emerging gender data efforts.

“We mapped projects related to SDGs in the company, then got a sense for which SDGs are we currently working hard on, which are we missing out on, then turned to the future,” said Anna Lerner Nesbitt, program manager of global impact for data and artificial intelligence at Facebook. At a convening hosted by Data2X, Nesbitt asked, “Based on what we’re doing now and where the world needs to be in 2030, where are our unique superpowers?”

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BIG NEWS: Allison Fine Announces 2020 Congressional Run

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.

Allison Fine has officially announced her 2020 run for Congress, where she hopes to represent New York’s 17th District. (Photo Credit: Allison Fine For Congress)

Adding to the potential for some great progressive victories in 2020, activist Allison Fine has announced her official run for Congress, where she intends to represent New York’s 17th District, and her hometown of Sleepy Hollow, New York.

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.

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The Legacy of Jennifer Schlecht and the Tragedy of her Loss

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.

Jennifer Schlecht with her daughter Abaynesh. The child’s name means “you are the Nile” in Amharic. (Photo credit: Women’s Refugee Commission)

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.

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RI Democratic Party Seeks to Muzzle Women: Sign the Petition!

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.

Elizabeth Gledhill, Rhode Island Women’s Democratic Caucus Chair, urges women activists to support the Caucus as they fight against new legislation that would restrict their ability to fundraise and advocate independently. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Gledhill)

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.

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Finance Expert: Minimize Charity. Maximize Gender Lens Investing


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.

Tracy Gray is the Founder of the 22 Fund, a growth equity investment firm that seeks to create more quality employment opportunities for women and people of color. (Photo credit: anitab.org)

“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.

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AWID Studies the Feminist Funding Ecosystem

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.

AWID’s report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem, defines four main types of funding that impact feminist social change. (Image credit: AWID)

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.

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