The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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

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!