Editor’s Note: As a practicing therapist, a feminist, and a writer on philanthropy, I am intrigued and inspired by Safe Conversations. I frequently refer families to the method as a part of therapy and find it has significant impact. In this article, Helen LaKelly Hunt, founding donor to many of the country’s women’s funds, discusses how this method has the potential for global impact as a part of feminist thought and practice.
SAFE CONVERSATIONS®: CONTRIBUTING TO GLOBAL FEMINISM
By Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. with the assistance of Mary Leah Friedline
I: Safe Conversations and Its Potential Relationship to Global Feminism
Safe Conversations is a dialogue process that helps people learn a new way to talk. The relational sciences are teachable for first time in history due to the breakthroughs in the neurosciences in 1990’s. Safe Conversations helps people maintain connection while accepting difference. With this new development comes the promise of helping people build healthier connections and lasting relationships with spouses, partners, friends, and colleagues, among others. Safe Conversations is well poised to contribute to global feminism.
Plan International USA—an independent development and humanitarian organization advancing children’s rights and equality for girls—has published an incisive report on American adolescents and gender equality.
Plan USA commissioned the research and communications firm PerryUndem to complete the study, which drew on data from roughly 1,000 interviews conducted nationwide with girls and boys ages 10-19. The results provide a snapshot on gender equity as seen by the next generation of Americans, and can be used by funders and non-profits to better define gender issues facing young people, and provide focus for programs to improve gender equity.
Plan’s “The State of Gender Equality for U.S. Adolescents” is part of its “Plan4Girls” initiative, and surveys girls and boys on their attitudes and experience around topics including physical appearance, career aspirations, sexual harassment, gender equity, differing societal expectations based on gender, and media representations of girls. According to Plan USA, “The goal of the research is to provide a resource for policymakers, media, and others who want to understand how children are internalizing inequality and how their views may take shape.” The full 134-page report was released in September 2018; a 14-page Executive Summary is also available.
As members of the feminist philanthropy community, we are always searching for ways to improve our communications skills, foster real connections, and create healthy partnerships. The good news is that our minds and emotions continue to evolve with time — better relationship skills can be taught and learned at any age. And with the advent of technology, from anywhere!
On January 16, 2020, Helen LaKelly Hunt, Harville Hendrix, and Riane Eisler join forces again to present Safe Conversations in Action, the second part of their webinar series on cultivating healthy relationships.
Today, we want to believe we are so connected and empowered as women, and yet, Jennifer Schlecht was not connected enough to be protected from the brutal murder of herself and her precious daughter at the hands of her husband. We got many times the average number of page views for this post. Ariel Dougherty did an excellent job of combining resources and analysis in the piece, but the fact that it got so many page views also suggests that this story was vastly under-reported in the mainstream news. While I’m proud to hold up the banner and call attention to this terrible domestic violence tragedy, I also urge other publishers and news outlets to take up the discussion of domestic violence by publishing articles about victims like Jennifer Schlecht, so that we can find more solutions that address violence against women.
This post also got a much higher number of page views than most of our posts. It seemed to hit a nerve, with several commenters dissenting from my opinion that MacKenzie Bezos may have deserved more. It’s an important question that needs further exploration from funders: how to ensure that women are adequately compensated in divorce. The Bezos divorce could have produced billions and billions more for philanthropy, had the financial settlement been a more 50/50 arrangement. In any case, it got people talking, and paying attention to, the philanthropy of MacKenzie Bezos.
With women’s reproductive rights being stolen away in parts of the country, it was heartening to report on Rhode Island’s successful passage of protections for access to reproductive health care. We hope this article provides a template that other states can consider as they find ways to protect a woman’s right to choose.
The lack of women in media was a major topic this past year, with films including This Changes Everything showcasing the data that proves that women continue to lack employment in and coverage by all forms of media. Laura Dorwart’s piece on The Women’s Media Center’s research and its ongoing fight to call attention to this problem did its job: it got seen by lots of eyeballs, and hopefully added to the momentum to actually do something about this problem.
This piece on Paypal’s research on women’s giving patterns also had a very high page view rate, with lots of shares on social media as well. People are drawn to knowing more about the curious fact that women have less to give, and yet manage to give more than men. Bottom line: more research like this needs to happen, so we can begin to understand the way that gender and philanthropy relate to each other and influence social change.
One of the most important conferences this past year was WFN’s September conference in San Francisco. So many amazing leaders attended, and the speakers and workshops provided for a deep and purposeful convergence of women givers and their allies.
Women Moving Millions continues to show itself as an organization with great passion for moving the needle on gender equality. This interview by our Senior Writer Maggie May with WMM’s new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, helps to drill down on how this network is refashioning itself to train a cadre of feminist givers who know the strategies for high impact.
Another post that saw a high rate of page views was our piece on the Culture Change Fund, spearheaded by the Women’s Foundation of California. This cross-sector collaboration of corporate, private, and public foundations was a story of great interest to our readers, many of whom are working at different levels to build stakeholder alliances for gender equality movements.
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.
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.
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?”
The legendary Pat Mitchell will be featured in an upcoming issue of the F-GIRL (Feminist Giving in Real Life) series here at Philanthropy Women. Leading up to that, I want to share Jacki Zehner’s recent post about Pat’s book, Becoming a Dangerous Woman, and talk about why Pat’s book, and her life story, are so important to feminist leadership.
Jacki does a great job of summarizing the astonishing path and background that sets the scene for Pat Mitchell’s book:
“Philanthropy Plugged In – Creating Community in the Digital Age” is the theme of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) 2020 Symposium.
The conference will be held in downtown Chicago on March 31 and April 1, and will focus on the intersection of technology, gender and giving. The two-day event will kick off with presentations and discussions in connection with Women Give 2020, which represents the tenth anniversary of the Women Give research series.
The 2020 Symposium will feature a mix of big-idea conversations and practical sessions. Technology’s role in transforming giving will have a central place, including how women entrepreneurs are leveraging technology to engage donors. Does technology empower more people to give and engage a more diverse donor community? What are the risks and rewards of the digital transformation for philanthropy?
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.
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.