The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

Click on the location markers below to read posts from women's funds around the world.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Member Spotlight: Women's Fund of the La Crosse Foundation and the White House Rural Tour

On July 16th, the White House Rural Tour - a series of events featuring top Obama Administration officials discussing how communities, states, and the federal government can work together to help strengthen rural America - stopped in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Women's Fund of the La Crosse Foundation was there to welcome Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Trasportation Secretary Ray LaHood to La Crosse and ensure that the well-being of women and girls was included in the day's discussion.

Diane Raaum, President of the Women's Fund, had the opportunity to speak out. "...Over 80% of those seeking transportation help today are women. We know this administration is about solutions. The Women's Fund is also about solutions and doing work at a community level. There are [145] women's funds throughout the world that are effecting social change in their communities. [In Wisconsin] women only earn $.71 for every dollar that a man earns. Furthermore, the current economic downturn has disproportionately impacted women and their families. We had almost $70,000 in grant requests this year from our community but were only able to fund $19,000. Many of these requests were going to meet basic needs. So we would like to know how you are proposing to include women as a solution to these problems and how you are going to help women and families in need in the La Crosse area," Raaum said.

The Secretaries responded that President Obama "gets it" and has passed that message on to his cabinet. They noted that President Obama passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and that supporting women and children is a priority for this administration. The Secretaries also noted the administration's goal to eliminate child hunger by 2015.

Congratulations to The Women's Fund of the La Crosse Foundation for making their voices heard and seizing this unique opportunity to raise the visibility of women's funds and the plight of women and girls during the economic downturn!

Post by Amy Moy, Interim Director, Communications and Marketing, Women's Funding Network

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Increase in Minimum Wage Bad for the Economy?

This Associated Press story includes comments from an Economist predicting the new increase in the federal minimum wage -- set to go into effect this Friday -- will lead to a bump in unemployment numbers:

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quick Hit on Women's Role in Food Security

The intersection of gender and food security is an issue that seems to be generally overlooked. In our world, women make up the majority of people who produce our food, yet they typically don't own the land they work on. There is also evidence, that when food is scarce, women are the first family members to skip a meal.

In recent years, with the price of food has sky-rocketing, women around the world are disproportionately affected. But women should not be looked at a mere victims in this food crisis, but rather a means providing food security for families and communities. President Obama and legislators seem to be getting this point. Ritu Sharma, president and co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide, wrote a great article on this topic. She says:
President Barack Obama has called upon Congress to double U.S. assistance for global agricultural development to more than $1 billion in 2010. The bipartisan Roadmap to End Global Hunger and Promote Food Security Act (H.R. 2817) co-sponsored by Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Ste. Genevieve, introduced last month, outlines a comprehensive strategy for U.S. leadership on this issue. It also recognizes that assistance should reach women farmers, not just farmers or small farmers.
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Liberian Woman Takes on Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Leymah Gbowee
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

While Stephen Colbert’s killer-comic timing usually shocks and stupefies his guests, he met his match last night with the Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee. Ms. Gbowee organized the courageous women of Liberia to bring an end to their devastating civil war, citing that they were fed up and could not take the terror and violence any longer and decided to do something about it.

Her poise and ability to keep Colbert engaged in the issues demonstrates that when you’ve taken a stand to the likes of human rights offenders like former Liberian Dictator Charles Taylor (currently on trial in The Hague for crimes against Sierra Leone), the Colbert Report ain’t so scary.

Leymah Gbowee and the women of Liberia are the subjects of the award-winning documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Check out the interview (above) to get a taste.

Find out more about how African women are improving their communities.

(Post by Kristina)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick Thoughts on Judge Sotomayor's Hearing

In following the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor I have become increasingly frustrated with the emphasis being placed on her "wise Latina woman" comment. We should be praising Judge Sotomayor and including her because she does NOT match the uniform identity that currently dominates our Supreme Court.

These days, it is more important than ever that we diversify our leadership and include women in top decision making positions. With evidence that points to the success of organizations and institutions that include diverse perspectives in their leadership, we should be looking to these models for moving our country and the world forward.

Have you been following the confirmation hearings? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is "The Philanthropist" Good for Philanthropy?

Last night the third episode of NBC's new show The Philanthropist aired. One would think that a prime time TV show focusing on philanthropy would be good for promoting the work of foundations and funds around the world who generally struggle to make their work seem exciting to a wide audience. However, the show really misses the mark and in fact provides a rather counterproductive depiction of today's philanthropy.

Where to begin...

The show has already been labeled racist and neocolonial, and I think it can also be called sexist and comes off as an unrealistic and unsustainable model of "philanthropy" -- which is portrayed on the show as random acts of charity rather than social change philanthropy. I am hoping that the story and characters develop out of this macho and imperialistic form of giving, but from the first couple of episodes I am not convinced.

Here are some of my reactions to the first couple of episodes:

  • The show reinforces a very patriarchal model of philanthropy (white man giving to poor people). The philanthropy is not democratized and it fails to lift up voices and solutions besides those of the western world.
  • It upholds what I consider an “old model” of charity -- where solutions come top down and are not necessarily sustainable (all of the “philanthropy” that the show actually depicts is very much random acts of charity rather than sustainable systemic philanthropy, like getting a little girl in Burma/Myanmar a kidney transplant, or delivering vaccines to a village in Nigeria).
  • It also portrays a linear model of development where the global north is “saving” or “helping” the global south, not lifting up and providing resources for solutions from on the ground. The show also reinforces very negative stereotypes of the global south, portraying countries like Nigeria and Burma/Myanmar as dangerous, primitive, corrupt and unable to help their own people, which perpetuating a negative view of these places.
  • And the show seemed sexist to me. The women who were in the show were all secondary characters and didn’t offer much in the way of solutions to the problems the main character faced. The story line also continually circled back to the achievements/concerns/emotions of the main male lead.
It is also rather disappointing because the work of Bobby Sager, who the main character is based off of, is really inspiring work. Lets hope that NBC takes The Philanthropist away from this James Bond type charity and focuses on sustainable philanthropy.

Have you seen the show yet? What is your take?

Working to Stop Domestic Violence Before it Starts

In the past few weeks it seems like violence against women has been getting a lot of press attention. In our news round ups we have been seeing headlines like Domestic Violence can also Include Economic Abuse and Spousal Rape Laws Continue to Evolve. People have discussed the idea that domestic violence has been on the rise due to the economic crisis, and of course the press has been paying close attention to the Rihanna vs. Chris Brown case.

Even with the announcement of the new White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, the press continues to fail reporting on successful and innovative solutions to domestic violence. The Women's Fund of Central Indiana has been working to break the cycle of domestic violence by educating youth.

"I am really proud of a $150,000 grant Women's Fund gave to the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center (RLHEC)... RLHEC created a curriculum to help the students learn to recognize appropriate behaviors and what to do if they are currently in or someday are part of an unhealthy relationship."

Read more about this awesome program at the Women's Fund of Central Indiana's blog.

Keep up the great work!