Let’s face it: it’s going to be a rough time for gender equity over the next four years, if not longer. In my private practice as a therapist, just days after the election, I saw a clear uptick in violent and threatening behavior toward my domestic violence clients. This may have just been coincidence, but I wondered. Suddenly, a very old threat was a new threat again.
This article from Reuters, Women’s Rights Face a Daunting New Year Worldwide, Campaigners Warn, lays out clearly where and how movements for gender equality will be hurting in the coming years. Work to end violence against women is going to face major challenges, as will work to keep access to contraception and abortion available. And the list goes on.
I wrote this profile of Donna Hall, President and CEO of the Women Donors Network, in February of 2016, but now it seems truer than ever. With the recent news that the Women Donors Network is partnering with Solidaire to lead a funding effort aimed at defending vulnerable people against a hostile government, the Women Donors Network is, again, not picking the easy fights, and going boldly into terrain that other, larger foundations seems to be approaching more hesitantly.
Listening to Donna Hall, who has been leading the Women Donors Network (WDN) since 2002, you quickly get the sense that she’s someone who has weathered many battles on the frontlines for women’s equality, and that she doesn’t choose the easy fights. It’s like being with someone who wants you to understand the cold, hard truth of continued male dominance, while at the same time giving you a chance to consider what the future may hold if we keep trending in the right direction with women’s leadership.
Many of us are wondering on a daily basis what will happen to marginalized communities under a Trump administration. Now, the Women Donors Network and Solidaire are teaming up to do something with that concern: raise money to defend and include.
With a goal of raising $500,000 between now and Inauguration Day, January 20, The Emergent Fund will work to fund organizations that defend marginalized groups particularly threatened by a Trump presidency. The populations they will work to protect include “immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, Black people, LGBT communities, and all people of color.”
From the press release:
We don’t know exactly what will come, but we must be prepared. We do know that there are strong leaders and organized movements on the ground in these communities, and we know that their work has been historically under-resourced. Now is the time for us to use our collective power to stand with them and support them in what they are doing, to listen to what they need, and to fund the new strategies that will emerge over the next 2-4 years.
Now is the time to give big and bold. Organizations like Cosecha are looking for additional funds to exponentially increase their ability to organize sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses. Groups like MPower Change are doing communications work around the unconstitutionality of a Muslim registry, and building bridges between Muslim, immigrant, and Black communities.
I interviewed Donna Hall about the Women Donors Network this past year and was amazed at what this network of women funders is doing. The work of the Women Donors Network is particularly nimble and responsive to community concerns and emergencies, so it is great that they are forging the path on new funding to defend vulnerable people in the coming years.Read More
Jacki Zehner, chief engagement officer of Women Moving Millions, wants to see corporations—particularly financial services firms—put their money where the research is when it comes to gender equity, and more specifically, women’s empowerment, inclusion, and leadership. Why? It is not only in their best interest, but key to economic stability and growth.
Zehner is one of a new breed of philanthropic leaders who transitioned from a successful career in business, bringing that knowledge and experience with her. She knows the gap between talk and action on gender equity in corporations well. Though Zehner’s career was made in fixed-income trading, rising at Goldman Sachs to make partner in 1996, her passion was women’s issues, and that passion led her to a position in the firm’s executive office where her role was, in part, to champion diversity and inclusion.
You can’t get much closer to the epicenter of creativity, social justice, and women’s empowerment than the Harnisch Foundation (theHF). Through its focus on empowering women and girls of all backgrounds, its innovative grantmaking toward women and media, and its latest Funny Girls grant initiative that teaches resilience and leadership through improv, theHF’s work spans some of the most relevant and important missions in philanthropy today. And at the epicenter of the HF is Ruth Ann Harnisch.
How did Ruth Ann Harnisch rise to her current position, with an amazing career in journalism and media under her belt, as well as 17 years at the helm of a foundation carrying out many unique and creative initiatives for women and girls?
If you spend time reading about women and philanthropy, you will invariably come across Helen LaKelly Hunt. Along with her sister, Swanee Hunt, these two feminist philanthropists are major players in the women’s funding movement, which hit the big leagues in the past decade as high-net-worth women began to make gifts of over $1 million dollars to fund causes for women and girls.
While researching for her dissertation on the origins of American feminism, Hunt discovered that 19th century women didn’t fund the suffrage movement. Instead, they funded things like their husband’s alma maters, churches (where they had no voice) and the arts. Years later, when women began pledging and making million-dollar gifts to women’s funds, Hunt captured that history in a book called the Trailblazer book, which was circulated to other women donors. This compilation of women’s testimonies helped catalyze the founding of Women Moving Millions.
Here’s some good news this week, in case you need a little cheering up: The Obama administration hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. With Michelle Obama and Oprah headlining the event, this convergence included many old and new fighters for gender equality including Darren Walker, Gloria Steinem, Matt McGorry and Amy Poehler. Also adding to the excitement: women’s funds.
President Obama and Vice President Biden also participated, with the president drawing wild cheers from the crowd as he announced in classic Obama style: “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like.”
Nearly every week at Inside Philanthropy I meet another woman leader who shows me a way that women’s funds and foundations are impacting the philanthropy landscape, and breaking down barriers to equality for women and girls. This week I talked to Roslyn Dawson Thompson, President and CEO of the Dallas Women’s Foundation (now the Texas Women’s Foundation) and the chair of the board of directors of the Women’s Funding Network.
Much of our discussion was about the role of economic security in empowering women. “If women are not able to achieve economic security then it has massive implications for workforce development and the economics of every state and the country overall,” said Thompson.