#IWD2018 Recap: Women Rock for International Women’s Day

While Michelle Obama was First Lady, she launched Let Girls Learn, a global campaign to improve education for girls. Now the Obama Foundation has a new program targeting education for adolescent girls worldwide.

Yesterday, International Women’s Day, was packed with events  acknowledging the value of women in the world and calling for more women’s leadership across all sectors. It was also a great day to celebrate the role that gender equality movements are increasingly playing in social change that advances peace and justice for humanity. Here are just 5 of the philanthropy-related happenings that made #IWD2018 a significant day of partying for women’s equality:

  1. Jacki Zehner published an updated research collection. Jacki Zehner, C0-Founder of Women Moving Millions and Co-President of the Jacqueline and Gregory Zehner Foundation, has been aggregating the best quality data on women and girls for over ten years. Her newly updated 500 reports spans a diverse range of topic areas including sports, real estate, peace and security, and STEM, with extensive report-gathering in areas like violence against women and economic development. It’s an essential and handy resource for anyone in the community looking for recent data from the growing body of gender equality research.
  2. Michelle Obama highlighted the life experience of a young Nepali woman. To demonstrate how the Obama Foundation seeks to reach adolescent girls globally, Michelle Obama partnered with Refinery29 to help the world see and hear Nirupa Katuwal, a 21 year old girl from Nepal, who talked about the value of education for her future.  Quote from Michelle: “I see myself in these girls. I see my daughters in these girls. I knew that I couldn’t just sit back and accept the barriers that keep them from realizing their promise. I had to do something.” Wow. That’s what real post-presidential leadership looks like. Hopefully, Melania is taking notes.
  3. Women Gathered to Talk Strategy and Take Action. At the UN, top leadership reaffirmed their commitment to SDG5 and enhancing gender equality worldwide. UN Chief Guterres put it succinctly by saying,”Gender inequality, discrimination and violence against women harm us all.” In Washington DC, a collaborative of organizations dedicated to women got together to celebrate how, as Sarah Bruno of  Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) put it, “ordinary women, who work hard each day to take care of their families, are also bringing change and innovation within their communities.” Other organizations collaborating in the event included WeWork, Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA (VFF USA) and Malala Fund.
  4. Women Convened to Discuss Gender Lens Investing. Ruth Ann Harnisch says it best when she says, “The final frontier of feminism is finance.” When women move into the driver’s seat of financial markets, there will be more opportunities to accelerate social change by holding corporate culture accountable for respecting the human rights of all people, including women. This was all discussed at length and in detail on a webinar convened yesterday by Veris Wealth Partners. The event was recorded on a webinar called Gender Lens Investing, Observations & Insights 2018, so we will keep you posted about when it is available for others to watch.
  5. Women Rallied to Embolden #MeToo Activism. High-level philanthropy publications like The Chronicle of Philanthropy  discussed the value of #MeToo, especially when combined with women’s growing wealth, influence, and leadership cache. Organizations like Femme Fatale celebrated the advances that women are making in creating films, while magazines like Alliance celebrated the range in diversity of women’s blogs, particularly those from marginalized communities. At the same time, mainstream publications like The New York Times featured obituaries of women previously overlooked by the newspaper for special attention upon their passing.

There was so much more that was said and done yesterday, which is why I’ve created a Storify of tweets about International Women’s Day that particularly relate to philanthropy. Enjoy!


Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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