When the world stops, life keeps going — especially for communities where social isolation and living off of savings are not viable options.
It’s a well-known fact that COVID-19 has made life at the bottom of the social pyramid even harder. Women and girls around the world, particularly in communities of color, are among the hardest hit by the ripple effects of the pandemic. The news reports address loss of income, life, and community, but the lesser-known impacts should not be forgotten.
Access to healthcare, particularly for women, was already a commodity difficult to come by in certain parts of the world. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, women and girls’ access to contraceptives, feminine hygiene products, and maternity care hangs more precariously than ever before.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Brandi Collins-Calhoun, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Senior Movement Engagement Associate.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I’m not sure that there was anything I could do to prepare to enter work that would be grounded in philanthropic feminism, especially knowing that the radicalization of mainstream feminism hasn’t happened across all movements and sectors yet. However, I wish I knew the weight of the shift from my life as an organizer fighting for my survival and safety to be centered, to my current role petitioning that my survival and safety is worth funding. I wish I knew how to find the balance and show up for myself through that process. There is often guilt and weight that comes with centering my needs in this work because this fight is so much bigger than just me, but I am reminded that Audre Lorde named that, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” That balance between holding the sector accountable and caring for myself is a radical act that is necessary for me to continue the work.
Dr. Jaana Rehnström, Founder and President of the Kota Alliance, an organization fostering international collaboration for women-centered nonprofits, recently authored an article that struck a deep chord with me. Readers here at Philanthropy Women will also likely feel a strong resonance with Dr. Rehnström’s words.
Dr. Rehnström begins by summarizing the current status of gender equality in the world:
20.6 billion has been pledged by countries and foundations globally to aid women, children, newborns, and adolescents affected by COVID-19.
(From PMNCH Press Release, December 2020) The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening three decades of improvement in health and social services for women, newborns, children and adolescents.
The well-being of this vulnerable group is being more affected than others due to disruptions to essential health, nutrition and social services since the pandemic, according to senior health experts at The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), a global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Reproductive rights under Biden: what will it look like?
Since the Biden/Harris team clinched the US Presidency, feminist advocates and policy makers have begun to discuss the massive reclaiming of women’s rights that must occur to recover from the last four years of Trump-era regressions. To dig deeper into this mandate, leaders from several high profile organizations gathered recently online to make explicit what must happen to begin the recovery of rights for women and girls around the world.
Author and Attorney Jill Filipovic moderated the discussion, which featured Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Anu Kumar, President and CEO of Ipas, and Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center.
Boston, Nov. 12, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI) announced today that it has received $13 million in philanthropic funding to support scaling access to the Centering model throughout the United States.
New multi-year grants from the Bezos Family Foundation and MacKenzie Scott, along with reinvestments from Valhalla Charitable Foundation, Imaginable Futures and Overdeck Family Foundation, will provide the organization to continue its multi-year growth strategy and make necessary technology pivots to design and offer the Centering model of group care in virtual formats. This increased accessibility will allow for the expansion of the model to reach the most vulnerable populations and continue to provide relationship-based care that improves health outcomes.
New Corporate Accountability Campaign Puts Six Major Companies On Notice For Anti-Choice Political Giving
The #ReproReceipts Campaign by UltraViolet Highlights Hypocrisy in Corporate America and Calls for Accountability at AT&T, Coca Cola, Disney, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Uber
(October 2, 2020) WASHINGTON, DC — Today, UltraViolet announced a new campaign to hold six corporations accountable for their political giving to anti-choice, anti-women candidates and calls on them to end their support for such politicians entirely and to commit to investing in reproductive health and justice. AT&T, Coca Cola, Disney, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Uber all target female consumers and promote women-friendly work environments, yet they bankroll candidates who actively work against women’s rights.
There was a big shift in how health care functions for women yesterday. An estimated 70,000 to 126,000 women will be prevented from accessing contraception due to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the right of employers to refuse to provide birth control coverage for women.
Women leaders across the country decried the decision for its devastating impact on women, including women leaders in philanthropy. Elizabeth Barajas-Román, President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, called attention to how this decision is particularly detrimental to women and girls of color.
Americans often think of high childbirth mortality rates as a problem plaguing low-income countries, but U.S. maternal mortality rates, particularly for African American and Native women, are high. Merck for Mothers’ “Safer Childbirth Cities” initiative is combating this trend, and its latest call for proposals is expanding its efforts beyond its initial ten-city cohort.
While the U.S. maternal mortality rate is substantially lower than most countries of the Global South, according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. maternal death rate of 19 deaths per 100,000 live births it is substantially higher than Canada (10 per 100,000), the United Kingdom (7), Japan (5), Spain (4) and Italy (2). Countries comparable to the U.S. include Russia (17), Turkey (17) and Romania (19). Moreover, the U.S. is the only high-income country with a rising level of maternal mortality.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the nonprofit Power to Decide, “the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy.”
What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
When I started my career, I really wish I had truly understood the breadth of possibilities available to me. Early on, I had a limited view of what I could achieve professionally. But I have been extremely fortunate to have exceeded even my wildest professional dreams. So, what I have learned is that with grit and vision, anything is possible.
What is your current greatest professional challenge?