Last evening, I had the pleasure of listening to Take the Lead Women’s Happy Hour with guests Rebecca Traister and Alyson Palmer. The preeminent Gloria Feldt, founder of Take the Lead Women and longtime leader for women in reproductive rights, moderated the discussion. All three women said things that not only lifted my spirits, but gave me some new directions to consider as I continue to develop Philanthropy Women.
Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies and writer for New York Magazine and The Cut, talked about how she came to feminist journalism, starting with a job at Salon in the early 2000’s, where her editor was a woman and much of the staff was comprised of women. She started to write more from a feminist perspective at Salon, and that work gained traction online.
As the economy and job market shift further toward globalization, we see more and more corporations amping up their attention to women and girls. An important new example of this is the Vodafone Americas Foundation, which in March of 2016 announced a fourth core focus: empowering women and girls in the technology field, and helping women use technology to live healthier and more prosperous lives.
Welcome again to Philanthropy Women. I am glad you are here. Given the new political climate, some of you may be worried about funding for women and girls. But, particularly in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the grant funding to support women and girls has been growing over recent years and looks like it will continue to do so.
Supporting more women and girls in STEM became an early priority of the Obama administration, and this interest and activity continued steadily for the years of the Obama presidency. 2016 was no different. This past year saw funding flowing for STEM programs for women and girls like never before. The ever-growing list of corporations and sponsors of education and opportunity for women and girls in STEM is staggering. It suggests a rampant popularity for philanthropy focused on engaging women and girls in preparing for STEM education and careers.
This speech by Meryl Streep is an amazing testament to the power of women’s voices to cut through all the crap and get right to the heart of things: calling out Donald Trump for emboldening a culture where disrespect invites disrespect and violence begets violence. Streep renders supreme judgement on Trump for his incredibly toxic behavior, particularly his mocking of a disabled journalist.
Streep supports several causes specific to women and girls, and a wide array of causes that intersect heavily with women, including rape and sexual abuse, slavery and human trafficking, and human rights.
Streep’s Philanthropy Focused on Women and Girls
Girl Up: As part of the the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up is one of the largest and most influential global organizations focused on girl empowerment. In collaboration with Girl Up, Streep co-narrated the film Girl Rising, which explored the experiences of girls in Haiti, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Peru, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan on their journey to education, revealing the many barriers they face and how they overcome them. Streep also served on a panel with other luminaries at the April 2015 Women in the World Summit, helping to set the direction for Hollywood around gender equality.
One of the most fascinating trends in women’s philanthropy is the advent of women’s giving circles. In fact, I got so interested in this trend, that I decided to start a giving circle of my own. More about that later. First, let’s take a look at some of the amazing things that giving circles have done over the past year in the U.S.
In 2016, we saw the power of women grow in society like never before, and their influence in philanthropy continued to increase simultaneously. Women Give 2016, the yearly research series from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, revealed how Millennial women are coming to philanthropy with a different mindset, and are influencing strategies and dollar amounts of giving in new and important ways. Additionally, the study found that women’s participation in the labor force has increased, resulting in heightened power for women in financial decision-making both independently and for their households.
We’re hiring. We are looking for a few good writers who want to delve into the world of women’s giving. If you are a writer with a passion for this area of philanthropy and would like to apply, please go here for next steps.
We have a free daily update called Giving for Good, which aggregates the news from a select group of progressive foundations, nonprofits, and media outlets that focus on inclusiveness, equality, and social justice. If you want to know what is happening in this funding space which includes women’s funds, feminist foundations, and corporate foundations with a focus on gender equality, check out Giving for Good. And relatedly, if you are a nonprofit or foundation that wants to be included in the Giving for Good feed (free publicity!) please message me with a request and I will consider it. There is a contact form link in the right sidebar.
We don’t want to go to a paid subscription business model but may need to do so if we can’t bring in enough revenue with advertising. So if you are a foundation or nonprofit, particularly in the women’s giving arena, please consider advertising with us. I can provide you with specs for the associated benefits of our levels of sponsorship.
I have resigned from my position as Senior Editor at Inside Philanthropy. I am a huge fan of the work being done there, but the truth is that my priorities need to be a) my private practice, and b) launching Philanthropy Women. I am grateful for my two and a half years of experience writing for that fine publication, and hope to find ways to collaborate with them in the future.
We appreciate support and feedback. Don’t be shy if you have questions, or want to talk about a specific idea for how to make the site more powerful and relevant. We want to be not just broadcasting our own content, but listening to the community of Philanthropy Women, so we can honor and serve this growing world of feminist strategy and influence.
According to a recent article in the Ms. Magazine Blog by Gaylynn Burroughs, Policy Director at the Feminist Majority Foundation, reproductive rights advocates are still expecting “an all-out effort by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” Read the full article, Not Going Back: The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid for more details.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act will have huge ramifications for access to birth control, as well as access to health care for women in general. In addition to losing access, women will also lose funding for birth control and may again be left to shoulder all of the costs associated with family planning.
I enjoyed reading Jacki Zehner’s call to make 2017 the “Year of Wonder Women” — the year when we all become defenders of “justice, progress and equality.”
Without the female President many of us envisioned leading the charge on the causes we care most about, we must all become even stronger defenders of those values.
Zehner writes: “This month marks the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman in DC’s All Star Comics #8 in December, 1941. She was introduced as an Amazon warrior who was sent to the world of men to fight against the biggest threat facing the world at that time; the Nazi party in World War II.”
With the change in leadership in the U.S. toward a more conservative, white nationalist mentality, it’s a good time to look around the globe and discover other leaders of women’s empowerment who are outside of the U.S. political sphere.
One impressive leader is Cherie Blair and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which is doing work internationally to help women develop business skills and earn income. Next year, the foundation will even be expanding its work to reach some of the most marginalized women in the world, those impacted by war in the Bekaa Valley, an area heavily impacted by the flood of refugees across the border of Syria.