When I became interested in women’s philanthropy, one of the first questions I wanted to answer was about who started the funding of feminist-strategy giving. It was surprising and disheartening to learn that there were very few accounts of the history of women’s funding for women. So imagine my delight when I heard about the publication of Joan Marie Johnson’s book, Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967. Her work in creating this history performs the desperately-needed public service of raising the profile of historical women who paved the way for gender equality, and a world where feminist leadership would set higher standards for civil society.
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.
“We see our members—grass roots organizations—as the experts,” says Emily Bove, Executive Director of the Women Thrive Alliance.
Women Thrive comprises 285 organizations in 53 developing countries. Based in Washington, D.C., Women Thrive supports its member groups in advancing women’s rights globally. “We only work with groups that are engaged in advocacy,” says Bove, citing Women Thrive’s expertise in this area. The other criteria for Women Thrive membership is that the participant organization have female decision-makers at the helm. Given its expansive membership roster and skeleton staff, much of Women Thrive’s work is virtual, including online courses aimed at helping member groups organize around gender and poverty issues.
While Women Thrive prioritizes women’s rights and equal access to education, Bove stresses that all aspects of development are interconnected, and breaking them up into discrete parts is somewhat arbitrary. “Women don’t wake up and say, ‘today my focus is on my child’s education and tomorrow it’s on clean water.’” The goals of women holding political power, controlling their own bodies, receiving fair pay and having access to education are interrelated, and all are key in furthering development.
As I continue to survey the landscape of gender equality giving, I am occasionally struck by a particularly effective corporate model for supporting this work. One of the most stunning examples of how corporations can turn their dollars around for the cause of women’s rights is CREDO Mobile, which has been funding gender equality movements for the past three decades.
CREDO Mobile grew out of Working Assets, one of the early corporations to grasp the idea of the potential for funding nonprofits via business. The company started as a long distance provider, and then went into credit cards. One of the company’s first credit card products was a card that generated donations to progressive nonprofits with every use.
Women in philanthropy: Check out Hala Ayala in Virginia, as part of an inspiring wave of women running for office in the state, which is having its elections this year. Hala Ayala is doing the very important work of standing up for what is right in an environment increasingly hostile to women and immigrants.
In Prince William County, Hala Ayala is hoping to bring her values of empowerment for women and equality for all to Richmond, and at the same time, send home one of Virginia’s leading anti-choice, anti-immigrant delegates.
Collectively, state legislatures passed 288 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights between 2010 to 2015. Now, a new film tells the stories of women’s horrific health experiences, and the imprisonments, both actual and threatened, that are a consequence of these laws.
Birthright: A War Story is a new documentary that exposes the radical religious right’s infiltration state legislatures. This movement’s goal is not only to strike down women’s constitutional right to abortion but also to curb women’s access to birth control. Some seek to put the rights of fetuses above those of women.
If a foundation’s mission is to build more healthy partnerships in the world, what better place to start than with their own internal partnerships?
In fact, for Peter and Jennifer Buffett of the NoVo Foundation, developing their own partnership as a couple coincided with developing the mission of their foundation, which is to transform relationships across the globe from “domination and exploitation” to “collaboration and partnership.”
I had approached NoVo wanting to talk to either Jennifer or Peter individually, but, apropos of their partnership approach to philanthropy, I got them both. They spoke to me by phone from their home in the Hudson Valley, about two hours north of New York City.
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.
Another day, another fascinating report on the status of gender equality philanthropy. Today I came across the report, Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, and read about how the United States stacks up against other Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member nations in terms of funding gender equality.
The data shows that as of 2014, the U.S. was the largest supporter of gender equality and women’s empowerment among the DAC membership. The report shows that of the $40.2 billion committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment, the U.S. was responsible for $26,211,000 of that. Second behind the U.S. is Japan, with a total of $16,817,000 in total aid screened. (It’s a complicated mix of ways this money is calculated, so you should look at the notes in the report to get an accurate sense of what they mean by “total aid screened” and other terms.) Third behind Japan in total aid screened is EU Institutions, with a total of $16,312,000.
Some of the wealthiest women in the world deploying vast fortunes with gender lens grantmaking: This is the future of philanthropy.
But gender norms of the past still haunt many women philanthropists. “Women told us that they would be at a cocktail party, and people would come talk to their husbands, but not them,” said Kate Roberts, Senior Vice President for Corporate Partnerships with Population Services International (PSI). A global nonprofit “focused on the encouragement of healthy behavior and affordability of health products,” PSI is the host organization for The Maverick Collective.