WomenFunded2019: Highlights from the First Day

The first day of WomenFunded2019 just wrapped up. With electrifying energy, the 400 people in attendance today engaged with a wide range of issues and topics. Here are some highlights.

MONEY: Where is the Money Going? How Philanthropists, Corporate Leaders, and Investors are Advancing Gender Equity

The first panel of the day included Kat Taylor, President and CEO of Beneficial Bank, Paulette Senior of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, Mary Chandler, Vice President of the Cummins Foundation, and Ada Williams Prince of Pivotal Ventures. The panel was moderated by Denise Dunning, Founder and Executive Director of Rise Up.

The panelists spoke from a personal perspective on how they became invested in gender equality. Many spoke of early life experiences of inequality that left a indelible mark. Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, shared about witnessing domestic violence experiences of friends as a child and young adult and remembered thinking, “This can’t be the reality of so many people I love.”

Paulette Senior of the Canadian Women’s Foundation said that she too witnessed women in her community being abused and thought, “No way in hell is this going to happen to me,” but she added, “It happened to me.” Kat Taylor of Beneficial Bank and the TomKat Foundation shared that, “My journey began as a very little girl watching the civil rights funerals” of leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr and others.

The panelists went on to describe how they carry out strategies to address gender equality in their organizations. For Ada Williams Prince at Pivotal Ventures, an organization launched by Melinda Gates in 2015, the central organizing principles involve advancing social progress by providing philanthropic and investment capital, seeding innovation, and “investing in underfunded and overlooked organizations that could have an outsized impact,” with the goal of increasing the power and influence of women.

Paulette Senior spoke about how two key women ministers in the Canadian government helped to spearhead the plan to invest $300 million in global gender equality movements, and emphasized that these investments are also complemented by domestic investments.

Pamela Shifman discussed the essential role of listening to communities before developing strategies for change. She also referenced the central importance of being “intentional about looking at our own internal biases.” Shifman noted that women of color and indigenous women are “chronically underfunded and need to be properly supported.”

“Philanthropy is very traditional and conservative,” said Ada Williams Prince, and described Pivotal Ventures’ approach as one that emphasizes trusting in communities and giving them “the money to keep the lights on.” “The hard part is the trust,” she said.

Gender and Climate Justice: Lessons from Asia and the Pacific

The speakers for this panel included Nandita Baruah, Dr. Yiching Song, Jane Sloane, Amanda Ellis, and Nalini Singh. Check out the videos to hear how these leaders provided their deep knowledge on the complex interrelation of women’s rights and climate change.

Girls at the Center: Intergenerational Approaches to Violence Prevention

It was a tough choice to pick one of the five first workshops to attend, but I went with the one that focused on girls and addressing violence intergenerationally. Speakers for this workshop included Emma Mayerson, Lucia Corral Peña, and Haleema Bharoocha.

Emma Mayerson, Lucia Corral Peña, and Haleema Bharoocha

This workshop helped to define ways to create a policy agenda that addresses toxic masculinity and rape culture. Attendees had the opportunity to use real-life quotes from girls, provided by the Alliance for Girls, to process how the words of girls show the context for how the culture of violence continues to be perpetrated, and where community organizing can intervene early in the life cycle (as early as preschool) to identify risk factors for violence in girls’ lives and bring in more protective factors like counseling and community support.

The Happy, Healthy Woman Leader

Beth Kanter, author of The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, provided a workshop designed to help prevent burnout for women leaders. In the workshop, attendees at the opportunity to learn about the signs of stress and overload and do a self-assessment of their own level of being burned out, from “passion driven” to “passion depleted.” Participants were then able to craft a new self-care plan across five spheres of experience: self, others, environment, work and money, and tech.

MONEY: Spotlight on Finance as a Tool to End Gender-Based Violence

Joy Anderson gave a compelling lecture on how finance is becoming increasingly engaged as a tool to address gender-based violence, and linked in the critical role that women’s funds play in connecting gender lens investing to grassroots efforts.

Funder Collaboratives for Bolder Philanthropy

This panel included Ana Oliveira, Surina Khan, Sandra Henriquez, and Adeline Azrack.

Decriminalizing Women and Girls: Closing the Pathway to Prison

The final panel of the day included Kim Carter, Jessica Nowlan, Mary Stutts, and Ms. Janetta Johnson discussing the current state of women and girls involved with the justice systems. Panelists gave impassioned and first-hand accounts of the effects of incarceration on women and girls, especially as the rates of incarceration of these populations has increased substantially over the past several decades. Panelists discussed their community-based efforts to help women re-enter the community successfully by helping to provide housing, job training, and family reunification.

Left to right: Jessica Nowlan, Kim Carter, Ms. Janetta Johnson and Mary Stutts.

For a full description of today’s events, see the Womenfunded2019 Conference Program.


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WomenFunded: Highlights from Day Two

How Can Feminist Funding Shift Games Culture?

Author: Kiersten Marek

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

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