American women have not generally been celebrated for their philanthropic activity, so it shouldn’t be surprising that African-American female philanthropists are especially invisible in contemporary culture.
But that wasn’t always the case. In the early 20th century, African-American women were engaged in a literal battle for survival in a segregated and violently racist nation. One African- American woman, however, managed to go from being a laundress who sometimes earned less than one dollar a day to becoming one of the first self-made female millionaires in the United States. Her name was Sarah Breedlove, but she was known far and wide as Madam C. J. Walker, the founder of a hair care empire and a noted philanthropist. Walker used her fortune to champion the YMCA, the Tuskegee Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other important civic and educational organizations.
If you’ve ever had the notion that your big strong male partner is going to protect you and provide for you, you are not alone. This cultural norm runs particularly deep in Latin cultures, where the term machismo is positively identified by traditional men who see it as their duty to protect and provide for their families. But the negative implications of machismo — violence, rigid gender roles, and the expectation that men should maintain financial control of the family — can have devastating impacts for women and children.
This article about The City of Women, a place on the outskirts of the Colombian city Turbaco, is a fascinating window into how women can come together to protect and care for other, more marginalized women in their communities.
The article, written by Marie Doezema, is published by CityLab, a collaborative project with The Atlantic. CityLab also runs a yearly conference, with the 2016 conference having a wide range of sponsors including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen Institute, GM, JPMorgan Chase, and Knight Foundation as Underwriters, McKinsey & Co. as Knowledge Partners, AARP and BASF as Supporting Partners, and The Miami Foundation, and Pfizer as Contributing Partners. The 2017 conference will be held in Paris, France, from October 22-24, 2017.
The City of Women is a refuge built by women for women and families. It consists of 98 houses that serve as sanctuary for women in need of shelter. Completed in 2006, The City of Women is responding to the increased violence in Colombia over the past decade as fighting has continued between government, paramilitary, and insurgent forces.
The City of Women grew out of the vision of Patricia Guerrero, a human rights lawyer from Bogota, who founded the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas, or League of Displaced Women, in 1999. Initial funding for the City of Women, which began construction in 2003, came from the Colombian government, the US Congress, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Organizers of the City of Women continue to seek funders to create more housing.
From the article:
One of the first things you notice upon entering the City of Women is how many men there are. In this sense, it could be any other neighborhood; men of all ages sit on porches and on motorcycles, walk the sidewalks and visit the smattering of shops selling cold drinks, snacks, and phone credit. Men are not barred from the City of Women as they, too, are victims of displacement and violence. The difference here, though, is that in a sharp detour from patriarchal traditions, it’s the women who own the houses and the Liga, made up entirely of women, who make community decisions.
Though there have been workshops and anti-machismo training for men living in the community, true change, particularly among older generations, remains a challenge. Machismo has been reduced “very little,” says Guerrero, adding that she holds out hope for the younger generation. “The fact that women own the houses intensifies the violence,” she says. “But the young ones who grew up in the city have seen a different model. They have been raised with a process, but the adults are still machismo; there is still violence and discrimination against women.”
I will let The New York Times fill you on what happened at this meeting with NATO and European Union leaders, but this picture tells a large part of the story about what global leadership looks like today — it is heavily male-dominated. Hopefully as more philanthropy takes on gender equality, we will see the percentages of women in politics increase.
From the article:
After the meeting, Mr. Trump headed to the Belgian residence of the United States ambassador, where he had a working lunch with Mr. Macron. Mr. Trump, who had appeared to favor Ms. Le Pen, Mr. Macron’s opponent, showered the French president with praise for his election win.
Some of the wealthiest women in the world deploying vast fortunes with gender lens grantmaking: This is the future of philanthropy. Maverick Collective is one of the places where this strategy is already taking place.
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.
The world of gender lens investing has yet to be even marginally explored for all its potential, especially given that only 1.1% of assets under management in the asset industry are controlled by women and minorities.
That’s why it’s exciting to learn that the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island is hosting an event on June 7, 2017 featuring Jackie VanderBrug, gender lens investing expert. I featured Jackie VanderBrug in my list of 9 leaders to know in gender lens investing. Here is my capsule on her:
Jackie VanderBrug, Senior Vice President and Investment Strategist, US Trust
VanderBrug is one of the earlier and most dedicated leaders in the new field of gender lens investing. She comes from Criterion, another pioneer in the field where she helped develop the Women Effect. VanderBrug’s awareness of the interrelated nature of social change began when she was a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Congress. Along with Sarah Kaplan, VanderBrug recently authored an article entitled the Rise of Gender Capitalism, published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which discussed in detail how investing with a gender lens creates financial and social impacts, while also helping women.
The #GirlsAre campaign coordinated by The Clinton Foundation last year was so successful at galvanizing media and action for girl athletes, they are doing it again for a second year.
That’s a very good thing, because data shows that girls in the U.S. are far less likely than boys to engage in the recommended amount of physical activity. The Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, along with a long list of foundations and nonprofits, is continuing the #GirlsAre campaign to fight against this worrisome trend for girls.
This week, It’s Time Network is hosting another call to help inform, engage, and activate gender equality advocates nationwide. This call will feature Kim Desmond, Director of the Denver Office of Women and Girls, and Nancy Reichman, Professor of Sociology and Director of Socio-Legal Studies at University of Denver.
This call will be held tomorrow, May 16 at 3 pm EST, and will discuss the upcoming May 31 Summit held by It’s Time Network. This call will specifically address “the importance of having a common agenda” and ways to organize and take action in order to protect the rights of women and girls. Register for the call here.
As the fate of Michelle Obama’s signature philanthropy program, Let Girls Learn, hangs in the balance, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado is planning a live conversation with the Former First Lady to discuss ways to advance empowerment for girls and women worldwide.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama is headlining for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 30th Anniversary Celebration on July 25th, a public event called TOGETHER, which will raise cash to support the educational and economic advancement of Colorado women and their families.
“Mrs. Obama has inspired many girls with her story and her fierce commitment to creating access to education for girls. We are thrilled that she is joining us,” said WFCO President and CEO Lauren Y. Casteel, in a recent press release about the event. Ms. Casteel, who was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014, will serve as moderator for the live conversation with Mrs. Obama.
Over the course of her eight years as First Lady, Mrs. Obama was a persistent advocate for gender equality, stressing the importance of women and girls pursuing higher education and job training. One of the most successful initiatives that Mrs. Obama championed was Let Girls Learn, an international effort to help adolescent girls access education.
Colorado’s 30th anniversary celebration plans to bring together thousands of diverse community members to raise money for the WFCO to pursue its mission of raising the educational and financial status of women and girls. Since its inception in 1987, WFCO has granted more than $16 million to advance gender equality in Colorado.
It’s Time Network hosted a conference call this past week that gave a window for states across the country to learn about California’s efforts to grow gender equality movements. The call featured Jessica Stender of Equal Rights Advocates, who has been coordinating and enacting many steps of a legislative agenda for women in California. The call was well-received nationally, with people registered from 16 states.
From Betsy McKinney and the It’s Time Network team:
Thank you for joining us for Tuesday’s virtual convening to learn about how we can support policy agendas that lift women and children out of poverty, ensure fair pay and family-friendly workplaces, and more, focusing on the Stronger California legislation.
On June 10th, an authoritative voice leading the resistance and challenging both the left and right, Joy-Ann Reid, will receive the George Curry Drum Major for Justice Award for Excellence in Journalism.
The award ceremony, Say Her Name: 20 Years of Intersectionality in Action, will be hosted by Kimberlee Crenshaw, co-founder of AAPF and professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA. Crenshaw is also a major figure in the movement to fund philanthropy specifically for women and girls of color.
The ceremony will also mark the 20th anniversary for AAPF, and will include playwright/activist Eve Ensler, as well as Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN-5), who has been a supporter of the rights of Muslim Americans and received the Utne Reader’s Visionary Award in 2011 for his work.