Lucina Di Meco on Women Political Leaders and Media Bias

Much has been written about fake news, bots, Internet trolls, and the gamut of tech-driven media manipulation that ranges from ad-hoc hoaxes to systematic attempts to hijack civil and political discourse. But there has been a lacuna in this coverage: gender, and the ways in which female politicians are victims of “gendered disinformation.”

Lucina Di Meco discusses the difficulties that women politicians face in a hostile media environment. (Photo credit: Lucina Di Meco)

In the report “Women, Politics & Power in the New Media World,” gender expert and women’s rights advocate Lucina Di Meco tries to fill this gap. “Millions of dollars are being spent on programs looking at democracy and technology,” she writes. “Almost none of them factors in women in politics. It’s infuriating and doesn’t make any sense.”

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The 19th: Filling the Media Gap on Women and Politics

It’s a brutal media landscape with each year bringing more layoffs and buy-outs of journalists, and closures of big city dailies. Paper is dying, and the digital arms of legacy media entities must fend off content-stealing, bottom-feeding, celebrity-obsessed click-bait factories. It’s difficult for serious and thoughtful, or even middle-of-the-road mainstream journalism, to survive unless backed by very deep pockets and a vast reach. And if a media organization wants to address gender and race in a comprehensive fashion, it’s well-nigh impossible.

The 19th will provide more media coverage of women as they push for a larger share of power in American politics. (Image Credit: The 19th)

It’s tough sledding, but the benefits of an informed public are incalculable and essential to democracy, and can’t be judged solely by looking at the bottom line. Consequently, some philanthropists are stepping-up and underwriting news and information organizations, as is the case with the support for a novel venture, The 19th, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.”

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Women’s Philanthropy Institute Appoints New Director

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI has named Jeannie Sager director. She previously served as director of philanthropy at the Indiana University Health Foundation.

Jeannie Sager, Incoming Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana Lilly School of Philanthropy. (Photo credit: WPI)

An established philanthropy leader, Sager brings a wealth of expertise and more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership and development experience in a variety of fields, including higher education, independent schools and healthcare. She has held key executive positions at several large nonprofit organizations.

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CBS Poll: #MeToo Prompts Men to Change Behavior with Women

For those naysayers who think #MeToo is a passing fad with no effect on society, a CBS poll has news for you. Men, and particularly young men, have been moved to rethink how they behave toward women since #MeToo and Time’s Up came to town.

Me Too Survivors March
Young men in particular are being influenced by #MeToo and Time’s Up. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

More than half (52%) of young men age 18-29 say that these movements have caused them to rethink their own behavior, and 36% of young men say they’re talking about the issue now more than ever.

Overall, 63% of Americans believe these movements have been instrumental in raising awareness about sexual harassment.

For women in philanthropy looking to influence gender equality movements, this CBS News poll provides important ideas for how to direct strategy in order to impact sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

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Progress for Gender Equality in the EU: How’s it Going?

Editor’s Note: This article was produced by the European Institute for Gender Equality.

It is almost a quarter of a century since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted by 189 governments following a landmark UN conference in 1995. New research from EIGE shows that no EU country has yet fully implemented this blueprint for women’s empowerment, with issues such as ageing societies, migration and climate change bringing new challenges.

The European Institute for Gender Equality discusses the progress for gender equality in the European Union. (Image Credit: EIGE)

“The ageing population of the EU brings new challenges for gender equality as women continue to be the main providers of care. While unpaid care work is indispensable to the wellbeing of individuals and wider society, its contribution to economic growth is largely invisible,” says Virginija Langbakk, EIGE’s director.

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How Safe Conversations Contributes to Global Feminism

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.  

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Plan Probes Adolescent Thought and Behavior Re: Gender Equality


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 International USA’s report helps to identify key attitudes and experiences of teenagers in the U.S., particularly around issues like sexual harassment, physical appearance, and media representation of girls. (Image Credit: Plan International USA)

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.

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Better Relationships for a Healthier Future: Safe Conversations in Action

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!

Register today for the webinar Safe Conversations in Action, held at 11:00 AM PT (2:00 PM ET) on January 16, 2020.

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.

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Top 10 Posts of 2019 on Philanthropy Women

The Top 10 Posts of 2019 covered a wide range of topics including domestic violence, giving circles, women in finance, and more.
The Legacy of Jennifer Schlecht and the Tragedy of her Loss

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.
At $37 Billion, Did MacKenzie Bezos Get a Fair Divorce Settlement?

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.
L’il Rhody Smashes the Patriarchy, Protecting Roe and Repro Rights. How Did They Do It?

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.
We Are Unstoppable: Giving Circles Organize Into a Movement

This piece started out on PW and was later reshared with some changes on Ms. Magazine. It tells the story of how women are finding new ways to fund social change with networks and circles. Since this article was published, the Gates Foundation has invested $2 million more in building the infrastructure for giving circles to continue to expand across the U.S.
Investing in Girls Who Invest

The strategies for moving more women into the finance sector are expanding, and new techniques, such as training women in college to practice investing skills, are gaining more traction. This story was widely viewed, and has a great follow-up in the news this past month, with Coca-Cola’s announcement that it will give $1 million to Girls Who Invest.
Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance

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.
Women Give More from Less

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.
#WomenFunded2019: Highlights from the First Day

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.
Shaping the Shapers: How WMM Trains Women in Social Change

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.
California Gender Justice Funders Launch $10 Mil Culture Change Fund

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.
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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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