The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Giving Strategy: Find Power in Numbers

U.S. News and World Report has included Women's Funding Network in its "10 Smart Money Ways to Give" rundown. You can read more here.

Women's funds are a great choice for charity giving because the money you give is an investment in a community, whether the women's fund is supporting improvement in your community, state, nation or worldwide.

If you are looking for an innovative way to honor someone special in your life, consider giving to your local women's fund.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taking Our Case to Congress

Deborah Richardson, Women's Funding Network's Chief Program Officer, testified before a Judiciary Committee hearing on domestic minor sex trafficking Sept. 15 about the problem of underage girls being commercially sexually exploited across the United States.

You can read Deborah's testimony here.

The hearing is a major step in bringing awareness to the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking and taking real action toward preventing and ending this problem. But so much more remains to be done.

If you want to take action right with us right now in the U.S. you can urge your lawmaker to sign on to H.R. 5575, which would create a comprehensive system of care for survivors of trafficking as well as increased penalties for those who buy and sell girls for sex.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

SF Chronicle Hones In on Craigslist Ads

Craigslist's hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, has taken notice of all the pressure mounting nationwide for the online services firm to do something about ads posted on their site that allow the prostitution of girls -- some as young as 11 years old.

Yesterday, the Rebecca Project placed an ad in the print edition of the Chronicle calling Craigslist to task for not doing enough to restrict prostitution of children on the site. It was accompanied by this letter on

You can do your part to send Craigslist a message by signing our petition here. Keep up with the latest on this issue at A Future. Not A Past.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Craigslist UPDATE

Women's Funding Network Chief Program Officer Deborah Richardson has co-authored a commentary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on preventing child sexual exploitation. Read it here.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster responds to GEMS founder Rachel Lloyd's criticism of the online service as contributing to the sexual exploitation of girls. Read it here.

And, of course, join our effort to prevent child sexual exploitation. Sign our petition to Craigslist here (or at the link below) and learn more about A Future. Not A Past.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tell Craigslist: Make Real Changes to Adult Services Ads to Protect Our Children

Craigslist is making a $40 million profit from "Adult Services" -- a section that includes the sale of children for sex.

Tell Craigslist you will BOYCOTT them until they take action to prevent the sexual exploitation of children on their site!

Our goal is to get 150,000 signatures for every girl at risk of being endangered and sold this year. Sign NOW and spread the word.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank You

Thanks to all of you who voted, the band Metric won the Pepsi Refresh SXSW Challenge. As a result, Women's Funding Network will receive a $100,000 grant toward the national expansion of A FUTURE. NOT A PAST., a campaign to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in the United States! Women's Funding Network is grateful to Metric and the Pepsi Refresh Project for making this possible. You can read the announcements at Spin Magazine and Pepsi's Refresh Blog.

Deborah Richardson, Women's Funding Network's Chief Program Officer, says, "It is estimated there are more than 200,000 children -- mostly girls -- being bought and sold in this country every year. Your clicks were for them!!"

A FUTURE. NOT A PAST. was created in 2007 to address and prevent the prostitution of girls in the state of Georgia. The campaign seeks to protect and inspire hope in girls who have survived commercial sexual exploitation, disable demand and prosecute and increase penalties for pimps and johns. The Georgia campaign has been so successful and the issue is so prevalent in states across the country that Women's Funding Network is launching the national expansion of A FUTURE. NOT A PAST. this Spring.

The $100,000 grant from Pepsi will support Women's Funding Network's efforts to:

  • Collect data on the number of sexually exploited girls in target states to document the national scope of the issue
  • Develop a plan of action for a nationwide comprehensive system of care for sexually exploited girls
  • Create and implement public awareness and advocacy campaigns to decrease demand and provide support for survivors
  • Increase programming that prepares girls to lead full and healthy lives

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vote for Us As Many Times as You Can in the Pepsi Refresh SXSW Challenge!

Vote here as many times as you can! Don't stop clicking until midnight Eastern tonight!

The band Metric approached us this month to be the recipient charity for the Pepsi Refresh SXSW Challenge. This is a challenge between the bands Metric and Broken Social Scene in partnership with Austin’s SXSW Challenge. If Metric gets the most votes we could receive $100,000. The winner will be announced March 31.

Metric chose Women’s Funding Network to support the launch of the national expansion of A Future. Not a Past. to end the prostitution of girls across the U.S. This phenomenal concept originated in Atlanta, where child sexual exploitation was running rampant before city officials partnered with Atlanta Women's Foundation and The Harold and Kayrita Anderson Family Foundation to create ways to prevent and end the trafficking of children. Women's Funding Network wants to take the work done in Atlanta and replicate it nationally to make all our communities safer.

Please visit the great Video about the Pepsi Refresh Challenge, Metric and Women’s Funding Network. Please take a couple of minutes to link to our Facebook page, too and VOTE! You can vote as many times as you want!

Vote here!

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's In Store for Women and Girls This Decade?

Some of the remarkable women who lead women's funds and partner with them as donor activists got together to share what they feel is possible for women and girls in the next 10 years.

Have a listen and share what you think is possible.

Happy International Women's Day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Progress or Regress?

Lately it seems we've seen several instances of women selling their virginity in the media, whether for college expenses or even academic study. Recently The Associated Press reported on a young woman in New Zealand, known only as Unigirl, who is selling her virginity to pay for her college tuition.

Last month, Natalie Dylan of San Diego, CA posted her virginity for sale, and now bidding has surpassed the million-dollar mark.

Dylan has a degree in Women's Studies and insists that she is not demeaning herself.

Both women appear to believe that the ends justifies the means.

On an individual level, one might be able to say that these women are wholly in control of themselves and their desires, which is a wonderful thing. It is empowering to know you may do what you want with yourself.

However, if measured against a broader scale, couldn't it be construed that their actions perpetuate a perspective that is unhealthy toward women? Namely, the perception of women as objects that may be purchased and sold.

These organizations – all women’s funds and members of Women’s Funding Network – fund innovative programs and organizations that improve the lives of women and girls by educating people about human rights and equality:

Global Fund for Women
V Day, founded by Eve Ensler
Equality Now

It's somewhat of a paradox that higher education has led Dylan and Unigirl to sell a portion of themselves on the Internet.

What is your take on their actions? Are they signs of progress or regress?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Measuring Real Wealth: Beyond GDP
by Riane Eisler

The U.S. Commerce Department recently announced a growth in Gross Domestic Product of 5.7 % for the last quarter of 2009 — the fastest growth in six years. This sounds like great news. But it's only a small part of the economic story, which is why GDP is so misleading.

Besides the fact that GDP doesn't measure unemployment or other dire realities facing businesses, workers, and families in the U.S. today, GDP fails to measure what really counts. It tells us nothing about the degree to which a nation invests in its real wealth: people and nature.

Investing in what economists call "high-quality human capital" is essential as we shift to the post-industrial knowledge/service economy. Yet here are some statistics, from even before the "Great Recession," showing how the U.S. has actually been neglecting its most important resource: its people, starting in childhood.
  • Infant mortality: The United States ranks 44th, behind every industrialized nation, and behind much poorer nations, according to the 2008 CIA Fact Book.
  • Childhood Development: The Save the Children "report card" comparing 25 wealthy nations on 10 key benchmarks of early childhood development shows that Sweden meets all ten, Finland, Denmark, France, and Norway meet eight, and the United States only meets three.
  • Child and overall poverty levels: The U.S. had the highest child poverty rate (21.9%) of industrial nations and the highest overall poverty rate (17.0%) of the 17 OECD countries, according to the International Comparisons chapter of The State of Working America 2004/2005. Finland (5.4%), Norway (6.4%), and Sweden (6.5%) had the lowest overall poverty rates.
  • Maternal mortality: The United States ranks 41st according to a UN analysis of 171 countries.
None of this information is shown by GDP, or even by the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness index. Nor does GDP reflect whether or not a nation is investing in caring for nature – even in face of mounting environmental threats

Because government and business leaders urgently need more accurate and inclusive economic measures, the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) has commissioned the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., to survey the current movement toward measures that go beyond GDP – from the earlier United Nations Development reports and the recent Sarkozy report by noted economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to less – publicized environmental, gender, and children’s well-being indicators – and to make specific recommendations.

One of the concerns of CPS is to ensure that new economic indicators are inclusive, and particularly that the majority – women and children – are not again forgotten. This is not only for their sake, but because data about children and women is essential for any accurate assessment of global economic and social conditions. As was recently posted on this blog, "A healthy global economy needs a strong societal foundation and this cannot be achieved without the contributions and participation of 51 percent of the global population."

There is strong evidence of this. Studies (including the CPS "Women, Men, and the Global Quality of Life” report and the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap reports) show a strong correlation between a nation’s general quality of life and the status of women. Similarly, Canadian and other studies show that national investment in children, such as in high-quality childhood education, is key to success in the post-industrial economy.

I urge all policy makers and developers of new economic measurements to consider these correlations. Only by taking them into account will business and government leaders have the inclusive and accurate economic indicators they need to develop more effective and humane economic and social policies.

Riane Eisler wrote this post as a guest of The She Change. She is a systems scientist and cultural historian, president of the Center for Partnership Studies, and author of the international bestsellers The Chalice and the Blade and The Real Wealth of Nations.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Welcome to the Bad Girls Club

CBS News recently ran a story about a series of videos that have become the latest YouTube phenomenon. However, this time the innocent interest in videos featuring Susan Boyle or little Charlie biting fingers does not apply. With over 8 million hits, the latest on the YouTube scene is videos featuring teen girls in fiercely violent interactions.

The teen girls in these videos are nothing short of outrageous, but perhaps even more disturbing is that we actually are amused by their behavior! These girls are seen brutally attacking one another with no sign of physical regard or caution. One girl is actually shown sitting on top of another girl attempting to rip her adversaries hair out while repeatedly pounding the teenage skull into pavement.

Parents, children, peers are present in these videos but choose to watch the “show” instead of intervening on the cruelty occurring only steps away from them. Gerry Leone, District Attorney of Middlesex, Mass., said recent reports indicate that 80 percent of physical violence that happens on school grounds occur between teen girls. In fact, recent statistics show 1 in 4 girls have been involved in at least one violent interaction at work or school. What has caused teenage girl violence such an entertaining trend?

My thoughts immediately go to the popular Oxygen channel reality show Bad Girls Club. The series, which just began its fourth season, has a pretty basic plot. The network casts the seven most aggressive, shallow, rude young women they can find (the age group is early 20s), strap them into the most revealing satin mini dress on the market, throw them into a house together and have them fight it out. The housemates of the Bad Girls house frequently resort to violence or verbal assault when faced with any grain of antagonism. These women pride themselves on their vicious nature and sometimes suggest that those characteristics make them more of a woman. The Bad Girls Club is being broadcast on a channel that is directed towards women's interests. The Oxygen channel is promoting this vision of women today.

Now just for a moment, try to see this from a teenage girls perspective. These women are sexy, trendy, popular, and lively, they live in a mansion in Los Angeles, and no one would ever think of crossing a Bad Girl. Now I’m not suggesting that the Bad Girls Club is the cause of the up rise in teenage girl violence, but the hit series is definitely an example of how today’s society is popularizing the image of the violent young woman.

By watching these YouTube videos and reality shows are we promoting violence in our girls? This type of violence does seem to be getting massive attention, and what does a teenage girl crave more than attention? Could it be that the increase in teenage girl violence is perpetuated by our desire to watch it?

I suggest that if a network, such as Oxygen, decides to found their network on the issues of women today, they need to present a more positive outlook. Our teen girls are constantly being pummeled by the media's image of women. Let's give our young women a sense of self-worth by promoting positive attention based on education and intellect rather than negative attention based on trendy viciousness. Contact Oxygen and let them know what you think about the representation that they are giving our young women.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Working Women

The New York Times today ran a piece about how large Indian financial institutions have increasingly adjusted employment policies to make room at the leadership table for women. You can read the story here.

This reminds me of a report CBS did last fall when they interviewed the Vice Chair of our Board, Jacki Zehner, about research she recently collaborated on showing the difference between women's leadership and men's leadership. There is a difference and part of creating space for women in leadership positions is acknowledging the unique perspectives and talents women bring to the table. You can read more about Jacki's work and the CBS report on her blog, Purse Pundit, which you should definitely bookmark.

Anyways, the New York Times story, when read together with the report about Jacki, adds a nice context to the blog posting below about all the talk in Davos this week.

Regarding the photo choice, I cannot help but think about Melanie Griffith's role in "Working Girl" back in the '80s. Putting aside the seriousness for a moment, I think she rocked it. She also did a good job representing real women in "Cherry 2000," another '80s KlassiK.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Open Letter to the World Economic Forum: Women Key to Long-Term Growth

This week, world leaders and the world's largest corporations will be gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss, in the words of the summit's theme, how to "Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild" the global economy. It is our hope leaders take time to consider that women - more than half the population - contribute to global economic stability and security and must be fully integrated into any recovery plans.

As a growing number of thought leaders and world bodies - including corporate initiatives like Goldman Sachs' $100 million investment in training 10,000 women business leaders -herald the pivotal and transformative role of women and girls to enrich societies everywhere, we must adopt strategies to achieve gender equality not only because it's just and moral but because without it, no country will achieve solid prosperity. According to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, women workers will be driving the post-recession world economy, representing a massive emerging market more than twice the size of India and China combined. The World Economic Forum's own Global Gender Gap report shows when countries decrease the gender gap they increase development.

However, the most recent report also describes "significant" gaps in job opportunities for and wages paid to women as well as continuing inequality in women's political participation. A report in The Economist earlier this month echoed these findings:
"Only 2% of the bosses of Fortune 500 companies and five of those in the FTSE 100 stockmarket index are women. Women make up less than 13% of board members in America."
In this same environment, the U.S. government last fall released data showed the number of women in the workforce is on the verge of surpassing men for the first time, albeit women still earn an average of 78 cents to every dollar a man earns. Increasing women's participation alone will not fix the economy, as the U.S. can attest.

Tapping into the potential of economic growth women hold means providing them a space at the leadership table and creating new solutions and approaches to challenges that keep women and girls from realizing their full potential. Some of this is already taking place through partnerships and discussions between large foundations like Kellogg and Ford, women's funds worldwide, corporations like Ernst & Young and national governments. This year the fifth anniversary annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative included discussion of investing in girls and women, with sessions focused on the different ways women strengthen societies and grow economies and the need to eliminate gender inequity. The event sparked enlightened conversations and renewed commitments for cross-sector investment in women and girls, including a $5 million partnership between the World Bank, the Government of Liberia and the Nike Foundation to improve economic opportunities for adolescent girls in post-conflict Liberia by linking skills training to labor demands.

We strongly encourage the delegates at Davos to continue discussions such as these and to make actively solving gender equity a central strategy to create global economic growth. As a pall of uncertainty hangs over the start of 2010 - continuing global terrorism, climate problems, continuing job losses, ongoing wars - there should be one sure strategy world leaders, corporations and global citizens alike should agree on: investing meaningfully in women and girls.

In the past there have been missteps in actions by all sectors that have led to women being relegated to the sidelines of major efforts to create growth. A healthy global economy needs a strong societal foundation and this cannot be achieved without the contributions and participation of 51 percent of the global population. While most of us can agree on this, the next step is to make bold financial commitments that will create a noticeable difference in the future. Let's get to work!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Women's Funds Are Responding in Haiti

In response to the recent tragedy in Haiti, women's funds are providing crucial funding and resources to the people who need it most. Please support their efforts during this critical response period. We are continuing to track ongoing rescue and relief efforts, this page will be updated as more information becomes available.

American Jewish World Service's Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

Global Fund for Women's Crisis Fund

Global Fund for Children's Emergency Fund

MADRE's Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti

V-Day's Haiti Rescue Fund

SPARK's Haiti Response Fund

Urgent Action Fund has translated their Rapid Response Grantmaking Program information into Kreyol and has also prepared a letter (below) for organizations in Haiti working to support women affected by escalating conflict.

A tout sè nou yo ann Ayiti, Fon pou Aksyon Ijan nan defans Dwa Imen Fanm (UAF) ap di nou yon gwo bonjou. Non mwen se Saira Hamidi e mwen travay pou pwogram Entèvansyon Rapid nan bay Sibvansyn nan UAF.

Nou ap ekri ou an solidarite apre nou swiv nan nouvèl tout kalite dega tranblemandtè a fè ann Ayiti. Sa fè kè nou mal anpil e nou vle asire nou ke sè nou nan peyi a byen. Anplis de sa, nou ta renmen raple nou ke UAF la gen yon pwogram Entèvansyon Rapid pou li bay sibvansyon nan ka kote sityasyon prezante e nou kapab bay yon asistans. Byenke nou pa kapab bay fon pou asistans imanitè, nou kapab kan menm asiste gwoup fanm nan sityasyon kote vyolans ak konfli ap ogmante.

Malerezman, jan nou konnen, vyolans kont fanm se yon bagay ki ogmante souvan apre yon katastwòf natirèl. UAF bay sibvansyon tou pou konsolide sekirite defansè dwa imen fanm e li pote asistans nan afè nan lajistis lè gen posibilite pou sa etabli yon presedans nan kesyon dwa imen fanm. Nou mete avèk lèt sa a yon kopi kategori e kritè pou don sa yo, e nou mete tou yon fomilè pou fè yon demand pou sibvansyon. Pou jwenn plis enfòmasyon, ou kapab konsilte sit Entènèt nou nan adrès: (nap mande pou eksize nou pase preske tout sit lan se ann anglè).

Nap mande nou pou nou konnen jan nap panse avèk nou.

An solidarite,

Saira Hamidi

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Women of Twitter: Entrepreneurs or Cheerleaders?

A Vanity Fair article entitled "America's Tweethearts" caused a bit of an uproar in the social media sphere last week, with various bloggers calling it "condescending" and "embarrassing." Even Felicia Day, a popular actress who is featured in the article, wrote in her own blog that she was disappointed with the article:
"But what really ENRAGED me was the general tone, which artfully made intelligent, articulate women sound vapid and superficial."
The article profiles six young women who use social media, like Twitter, to expand their influence, but instead of focusing on their individual achievements, the article reads as clearly dismissive of Twitter, its users, and even the women featured in the article.

It likens them to cheerleaders:
"It so happens that they are nice girls—the Internet’s equivalent of a telephone chat line staffed by a bunch of cheerleaders..."
Others on blogs such as Geek Week, CNET and Geek Girl Diva also expressed their dismay with the article.

The VF article makes no mention of how these women use their social media savvy to promote themselves or the people and causes they believe in; instead it focuses on Twitter as an enormous and hollow popularity contest.

The prevailing criticism is that Vanity Fair missed an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of these women, who collectively have more than five million followers. That is a huge number of people who are interested in what these women have to tweet about.

Day's quote is what the story should have focused on:
"Doors were closed to us before,” says Day. “Now the tools for success have been democratized. It’s just me and whoever wants to talk to me, wherever they are in the world.”
For a better article about women and Twitter, read Forbes' "14 Power Women To Follow On Twitter." Unlike the Vanity Fair story, this actually focuses on women and their social media exploits, detailing exactly why these women are worthy of their many followers.
"These 'twilebrities' are constructing digital empires by building brands from the ground up. They are not only experts, but also extraordinarily engaging, hard working, interactive and responsive to their communities. And they are deserving of your follow."
Of course, any list is not necessarily exhaustive or objective, but Forbes is respectful of every woman on their list.

Twitter does make it easier to reach out to real experts, and Twitter makes the real-time Internet into a more personable experience.

Check out us out on Twitter at @womensfunding to learn more about women's issues.

How do you use Twitter to connect to issues you care about?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Do We Change Our "Culture of Sexual Assault"?

Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor published a telling commentary on Western society's "culture of sexual assault" by Chloe Angyal. A group of male students from the University of Sydney created a "pro-rape" Facebook group. It has since been removed, but the simple act of creating that group speaks volumes about the widespread acceptance of sexual misconduct.

As I started reading this, I immediately thought of the California Bay Area (Richmond) gang-rape case from almost three months ago, in which a group of people simply stood by and watched instead of helping the 15-year-old girl. Angyal connects this incident with the Australian students:
"The ugly reality is that neither Australian nor American culture holds its young men to a high enough standard."
Angyal writes that our society implicitly condones this behavior, from the TV shows we watch to how we seem to quickly forget when rape occurs because it is so prevalent. A study by the Parents Television Council suggests that the incidents of violence against women on TV have increased by 120 percent from 2004 to 2009.

Angyal also cautions that
"...rape is no metaphor, no joke. It’s real, and it happens alarmingly often. We need to demand better of our young men... Their humanity, and women’s lives, depends on it."
The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault's (a grantee partner of New York Women’s Foundation) Project ENVISION conducted research last year on the root causes of sexual assault in the small communities of the Lower East Side, Manhattan; the South Bronx; and Williamsburg, Brooklyn . Project ENVISION is tackling sexual assault on a community scale, and have found that more than 50 percent of those surveyed in each community believe that educating the youth on sexual violence may be the best way to change perceptions of gender inequality.

Do you know of any other women-led organizations working on innovative solutions to this problem?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Congrats to a Social Justice Pioneer

On New Year's Day, Women's eNews released their list of "21 Leaders for the 21st Century," an annual compilation of women who are improving the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Among this year's leaders is Cecilia Boone, who serves on the Board of Women's Funding Network and is also the co-founder of the Boone Family Foundation, which is working in very innovative ways to make a better environment for women and girls in the great state of Texas.

Congratulations Cecilia! Keep on making change!