Editor’s Note: Philanthropy Women is proud to announce Real Women, a new fiction series by author M. A. Sheehan, to help our audience immerse in fictional works that relate to women’s experiences. The first story in the series explores a fictional pros and cons list of a sexual assault survivor.
Reasons Not to Share Being Sexually Assaulted:
1. Never have to associate self with his name, his difficult identity, and be a target for his fans to ravage.
2. It almost always looks bad to reveal something negative about someone after they have died.
3. Most people will blame me, because it’s inevitably the woman’s fault.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
When I switched careers 12 years ago, I didn’t understand the power dynamics and barriers that exist for grassroots nonprofits. I wish I knew the intricacies of philanthropy and why such large gaps exist between those who need funding and those who receive. I now see that collectively, we are moving the needle to shift philanthropy, but it’s happening very slowly.
While I wish I’d entered on this path sooner, I am proud to now devote my career to giving circles because I believe this model is the most dynamic way to liberate capital to nonprofit leaders who know what solutions are best for their communities. Giving circles are filled with everyday givers coming together to diversify and democratize philanthropy. These are the voices that have historically been excluded by mainstream philanthropy and the voices that will break down these existing power dynamics and eliminate barriers to much-needed funding for grassroots leaders.
It’s like that line from the Indigo girls song: “The hardest to learn was the least complicated.” The hardest thing for philanthropy to learn is that equality must become a priority: gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ equality, and the list of those not included or given adequate resources and opportunities goes on. But instead, philanthropy keeps pointing elsewhere and saying, “Oh it’s a health care problem, oh it’s an education problem, oh it’s a workforce development problem.”
Our health care and education and workforce development problems often grow out of a firmly entrenched bedrock of equality problems. But the equality part of the story almost always gets minimized in philanthropy, almost always gets conveniently left out, almost always stays on the back burner. Ultimately, if you really look closely at what’s going on in philanthropy, you realize that philanthropy as a whole funds equality in mostly token ways — ways that never get at the root of the problem. As a result, equality remains a presumed cultural value that has no real mechanism for being realized on a broad scale. It’s a dream to talk about loftily and do some pilot programs on, and then get back to the serious business of running a society that worships and elevates the richest 1% to the grave detriment of everyone else.
It’s finally happening: America is charting its course as a nation to remedy our problems with gender equity and equality. What is contained in the momentous document, and how will it affect funding for gender issues?
The President and Vice President begin the document by locating the issue in our current context of heightened stakes for women and girls in the US and across the globe:
This document, the first-ever United States government strategy on gender equity and equality, is a part of that noble American tradition [of valuing equality]. It comes at an inflection point for the economic security, safety, health, and well-being of women and girls in our nation and around the globe. COVID-19 has exacerbated preexisting economic, health, and caregiving crises that disproportionately impacted women and girls long before the pandemic struck. Following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, women’s participation in the American labor force plummeted to its lowest level in over 30 years. Rates of gender-based violence have risen significantly, and racial and ethnic inequity has deepened.
Editor’s Note: The following essay by Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director, WomenStrong International, discusses the transformational potential of #MeToo to empower change locally and globally.
In their remarkable new book Awakeningabout the global #MeToo movement, feminist scholars Rachel Vogelstein and Meighan Stone have shined a light on the courage, creativity, and resilience of women all over the world who have alchemized their pain as survivors of sexual violence into fierce, undaunted activism.
These brave women, from Brazil to Tunisia to Nigeria to Sweden and myriad places in between, have harnessed available digital technologies to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, connect with other women, sound the alarm loudly, and press for change. They’re fighting not only for victims’ safety in reporting these crimes and accountability for their perpetrators; enraged and emboldened, they’re aiming to institutionalize legal protections and disrupt the prevailing cultural and religious moraes that have long sanctioned violence against women in the first place.
Editor’s Note: The following commentary on domestic violence is by Debbie I. Chang, MPH, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation.
Throughout a career advocating for the health and well-being of children and families, I thought I knew a lot about domestic violence and its impact. I knew that trauma, including exposure to domestic violence in childhood, has a deep and lasting effect on health. Like many people, I thought what happened in people’s homes was a private matter. In fact, some would narrowly say, “It’s not my business.”
Now I know domestic violence is all of our business. It is truly a public matter. And it is preventable.
Pilot to accelerate gender parity in politics launched in Michigan, Mississippi, and Washington
Today, The Ascend Fund, a collaborative fund dedicated to accelerating the pace of change toward gender parity in U.S. politics, announced $600,000 in grant awards to 13 nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations in Michigan, Mississippi, and Washington as part of a pilot project designed to increase the number of diverse women serving in state legislatures.
“Recent debates in state legislatures over abortion, voting rights, and other critical issues illustrate the increasing power of state lawmakers in politics. We want to ensure that everyone affected has a seat at the table in crafting such foundational bills,” said Abbie Hodgson, Director of The Ascend Fund.
Texas Women’s Foundation, a powerhouse for women and girls in Texas, raised more than $1 million at their 36th Annual Luncheon
Across Texas, groups convened to watch in livestream mini-parties, including 96 students and teachers from Brookhaven College, as the Texas Women’s Foundation held its Annual Luncheon online. Presented by the Dallas Mavericks, the event raised more than $1 million and had a total audience of over 4,000.
The event, entitled My Voice. My Story. Every Woman’s Power to Build Compassion and Community, brought together leaders across society to talk about the value of increasing the wellbeing of women and girls in Texas and beyond.
How The Fifteen Percent Pledge is Pushing for Better Diversity on Store Shelves
Following the horrific murder of George Floyd, Canadian-born director, activist, and fashion designer Aurora James decided she needed to do something to make a difference. Act after act of police brutality with little to no repercussions for the perpetrators left the Black community in a state of perpetual fear and disgust. George Floyd’s death on May 20, 2020 also came at the same time as the height of the pandemic, which disproportionately affected Black businesses.
James’s response was to found the Fifteen Percent Pledge, which has since gone on to bring on board over two dozen major corporations. According to James’s website, the impact of the Fifteen Percent Pledge has been significant, “effectively diverting over $5B in capital to Black entrepreneurs in the United States” within the first year.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving In Real Life series featuresElodie Read, Program and Community Partnerships Lead at Subak, the first global non-profit tech accelerator dedicated to combatting the climate emergency.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I’m pretty early on in my career so this is quite a tricky question to answer. At university and grad school, everyone is full of conviction, zeal and a healthy dose of naivety about how the world is and how it should be. When you start working, it can be easy to get bogged down in reality, but I think it’s important to remember why we got into this kind of work and to keep working with our values and goals at the front of our minds.