Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Jessica Ryckman, Director of Fellowships at Equal Justice Works.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
A: Right now our nation is facing an unprecedented wave of setbacks that threaten basic human rights previously protected by law. Millions of Americans cannot afford legal assistance when facing life-changing situations, and a 2020 study found that there is only one legal aid attorney for every 10,000 people living at or below the poverty line. This is leaving a gap in our justice system at a time when access to legal aid is more needed than ever.
When I began my career, I was aware of so many attorneys who dreamed of working in public service but were hindered by finances, equity, and accessibility. The cost of a legal education precluded many from entering public interest law upon graduation – or even discouraged attending law school at all. There were also fewer resources at law schools for first generation graduates, like me, who were interested in public interest law but lacked familiarity and mentors to help navigate the legal landscape and make educated choices about how to achieve a career in public service.
This week’s essential reading for feminist givers comes from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) with their report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem. The report helps to more clearly define the different types of funding that impact feminist movement-building, and makes recommendations for how to increase the most effective forms of funding.
The report cites evidence that, “A remarkable – and disturbing – 99% of gender-related international aid fails to reach women’s rights and feminist organizations directly.” Instead, these funds end up being used by the development agencies that receive them, or get redistributed to mainstream organizations that are not associated with feminist movement builders.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Loreen Arbus, producer, writer, author, and disability rights activist. She is the Founder of the Loreen Arbus Foundation, President of the Goldenson-Arbus Foundation, and sponsor of the WMC Loreen Arbus Journalism Program, among other projects. On October 21st, Loreen received the Eagle Award at the Disability Rights Advocates’ 2019 Gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Her work as an advocate for people with disabilities, including her commitment to inclusion and integration of differently-abled people and minorities, spans a lifetime of exemplary philanthropic efforts.
Editor’s Note: The following essay is authored by Jenny Xia and Patrick Schmitt, Co-Founders of Free Will, an award-winning social venture with a mission of supporting world leaders in law, design, and philanthropy.To date, more than $850 million has been committed to nonprofit organizations through Free Will. They discuss implications of the upcoming wealth transfer to women.
In the next two decades, an estimated $30 trillion will be inherited in the US as the large and prosperous Baby Boomer generation passes its wealth on to the next generation. This is the largest wealth transfer in human history, and may be the single greatest opportunity for philanthropy ever.
This demographic wave is beginning to thrust “planned giving” and “bequests” (giving through wills, trusts, and a few other avenues) from the outskirts of mainstream philanthropy into the spotlight.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we are primarily concerned with how gender equality movements are being cultivated through charitable giving. However, we occasionally like to step out of our silo and bring in news about how gender equality can be fostered through our collective distribution systems known as governments.
Which is why, today, we want to talk about Elizabeth Warren’s proposed ‘Wealth Tax’. According to Nancy L. Cohen, author, historian and thought leader on gender and American politics, “Warren’s wealth tax would be a massive investment in gender equity.”
“Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax is a massive investment in gender equality – and if enacted, would be a gamechanger for women and girls across the US,” said Cohen, further describing the tax plan as a “bold investments in universal childcare and early education” that would “raise wages for childcare workers” and “unleash the potential of American women – increasing workforce participation and helping to close the gender wage gap.”
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Suzanne Lerner, activist, philanthropist, and co-founder and president of fashion brand Michael Stars. She serves on the board of the Ms. Foundation, ERA Coalition, and A Call to Men, as well as being a member of Women Moving Millions and Women Donors Network. To learn more about Suzanne, go to www.suzannelerner.com.
What is the most important message people need to understand about why gender equality is so important?
Much celebration and excitement accompanied Melinda Gates’s recent announcement that she will devote $1 billion in new funding to women and girls over the next ten years.
There is good reason to be excited. This new funding will be disbursed by Pivotal Ventures, the investment and incubation company founded by Melinda Gates in 2015. Pivotal Ventures is going to do things differently, it seems, with the ability to come in with either philanthropic or investment capital. Perhaps Melinda chose to start a new company for this work because she realized it would be easier to start from scratch and be less confined by other Gates organizations in philanthropy or business.
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, provided the keynote address for Women Funding Network’s conference, Leadership for a Changing World, held in San Francisco in September. With a message of urgency about our climate crisis combined with a call for more women’s leadership, Robinson brought the audience to their feet with applause for her words.
“Unless women take leadership in dealing with the climate crisis, then all the other issues, and I fully believe in the intersectionality of all the other issues, but all the other issues will actually fade, because we won’t have a livable world for our children and grandchildren,” said Robinson. “It’s as simple as that, and as stark as that, and as real as that, and that’s why it’s so important that women are now taking that leadership.”
The Women & Money Summit is less than a month away, so now is the time to reserve your seat. Feminist strategists Tuti B. Scott and Marianne Schnall are bringing together leaders from finance and social justice to finds ways to grow the synergy between gender lens investing and gender lens grantmaking.
On September 16-17, Women & Money: Making Money Moves that Matter is bringing these leader together in Austin, Texas to engage in strategic talks about how to accelerate progress for gender equality across finance and investing as well as social policy. The goal is to figure out what it will take to get more people aligned with donating, investing, and taking action for gender equality in all segments of society.
“Too few girls have the chance to make decisions about any aspect of their lives – whether they can stay in school, whether and what they can study, when or who they marry, accessing health care, and if and where they can see friends,” Swatee Deepak, director of With and For Girls (WFG) says. WFG is a funding collaborative that seeks to shift the scales of power in teen girls’ favor. It gives financial support to girl-led and -centered groups around the world and engages young women in participatory grantmaking panels. This means, every year, former winning organizations train teen girls to choose the next prize recipients. As we’ve pointed out, girls and young women ages 10 to 24 make up 12.5% of the world’s population — around 900 million people total. But, less than 2 cents of every international aid dollar goes to campaigns directed toward girls in this age group.