A Call From SheWrites – My Heroines…

Deborah Seigel (pictured) of SHEWRITES has started something! She has asked all us bloggers to create a list of our women heroines. Love it. (click here to read more) So here is the problem.. I have way, way, way too many…. So if you are not included in this list, forgive me, and you will be in the next one… Not many on my list are bloggers, but they should be.

1) Deborah Seigel – Back at ya sista! ( girlwpen )I am not sure I would be blogging at all without your support. You are a gifted writer and a spectacular person.
2) Ann Kaplan – Founder of Circle Financial Group. Our friendship goes way back to the early 90’s when Ann as a senior women in Fixed Income at GS and I was a lowly associate. She has been my mentor forever.
3) Barbara Dobkin – Barbara is one of the most selflessly generous people I know. She gives and gives and serves and serves and always with humor and joy.
4) Kathy Lemay – Kathy you have rocked my world. She is the writer of the new book, “The Generosity Plan” and since the day I met she has challenged me about who I am and how I can make a difference.
5) My 92 year old Grandmother Sadie, my mother Rose, and my sister Teri – I have the most amazing women in my family and I love them all so much.
6) Helen Lakelly Hunt – For stepping out of her comfort zone and encouraging women of means to step up to fund women and girls.
7) Chris Grumm – President of the Women’s Funding Network – She is a force of nature and I am honored be a part of the community.
8) Stephanie Hanbury Brown – Creator of Golden Seeds, and angel investing network that funds women entrepreneurs. She walks the walk.
……. I could go on and on and on. I am so blessed and thank all the incredible women in my life.

Men, Feminism, Gender Equality and Call to Action!

The Women’s Movement has not been very good at including men in the discussions and strategies to advance gender equality. We justly complain about being excluded from men’s tables, but I truly challenge us to ask ourselves if we are doing the same thing by not inviting them to ours? This has to, and is, slowly, changing.

I want to honor the history of women’s organizing and action. Women needed a safe place to share stories, be heard and create strategies for change. We certainly still need that, but broadening our movement to include men that share our values has, I believe, become mission critical.

I also want to honor the many incredible women leaders and activists, so many of which I had the good company of this past week in Denver, at the Women’s Funding Network Annual Conference including Gloria Steinem, Chris Grumm, Helen Lakelly Hunt, Barbara Dobkin, Katherine Acey and so many more. These women have been fighting for the rights of women and girls for decades. But for the movement, our movement to advance, I believe we need to do a much better job of including men and male leaders who share our mission and our values. We need more than a few good men, we need a lot of them, and one such man is Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, who joined us in Denver.

Kumi travelled all the way from Amsterdam to speak on a panel at the conference called “United In Purpose: A Cross-Sector Stakeholder Exchange.” The other panel members were Saadia Zahidi ( World Economic Forum) , Anne Mosle (Kellogg Foundation), Ana Maria Enriquez (UNIFEM), Pamela Shifman (NOVO) , Cathy Woolard (CARE) , Kim Azzarelli (Goldman Sachs) and moderated by Nicky McIntyre ( Mama Cash) (link to all speakers bios). More and more organizations are investing in strategies that see women and girls as solution builders to the world’s problems, and the question is, how do we work together for maximum impact? How to we make sure that this is not a trend but sustainable? Organizations like CARE, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiatives, and the NOVO Foundation are BIG, yet relatively new players in this work, so how do they partner with Women’s Funds that have been doing this work for 30 years? How do they both absorb and leverage the knowledge that exists and not reinvent the wheel? And what can we as a network of women’s funds learn from these organizations and how they come to see investment opportunities and strategies? Rather than give you all my notes, I will link to the session when it becomes available next week.

My point in this blog entry is that a MAN, a self defined Feminist MAN, was there with us brilliantly adding to the conversation with insightful perspective and great tactical ideas. He did not need to be convinced that including women and girls in discussions around climate change, poverty, health issues was the right thing to do, but the absolutely necessary thing to do. He did not need to be coached about what to say and how to say it in a respectful and inclusive tone, be modeled it. He did not duck tough questions about inclusion and voice, he addressed it head on. He did not cushion his comments about what hold the women’s movement back, he gave targeted advice on how we could both gain access and influence. This man was a breath of fresh air and I for one sat there wishing for more of guys like him. I cannot wait for you all to watch the video of this session, I cannot wait!!

Now I know of course there are many feminist men, (my hubby, James B to name a couple) but my point is that there are not enough, and few that are in positions of power and influence like Kumi is. If you ask most men, and sadly some women, if they are feminist they are likely to say no. ( see definition below ) We need more, so many more feminist men, and it gives me great hope to know that Kumi is at Davos, is leading conversations about climate change around the world, is meeting with the top CEOs of the world at their request, and is one of us! He is someone who believes that gender inequality is the root cause of so much that ails the world and that reducing it offers the hope for what can heal it.

So here is the call to action Girlfriends. Increasingly see the recruitment and engagement of men, our men and men we do not know, as key to OUR success. Let’s help them understand that gender inequality is NOT a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue. Let’s help them understand that when women and girls are safe and secure, so are families, communities, and our nations. I must have said this 100 times on this blog, and I will say it 100 more. Reducing global gender inequalities – in leadership, education, political participation, wages, civic engagement, legal rights and more…. is what will help save and heal our planet. I know this with every ounce of my being and I will work, engage, fund, fight and march for this until the day I die. Join me and let me join you.

As for you men who might be reading this here is your call to action. I challenge you to ask yourselves do you believe that women and girls should have the same access, opportunity and security as men and boys have? If the answer is yes then think about why it is ok that women still earn in the country 77 % of what men earn? Why is it ok that women are largely absent from corporate boards and leadership positions? Why is it ok that 70% of the world’s poor women and children? Why is it ok that millions of girls go missing every year and so little is done about it? Why is it ok that you can buy the body of a teenage girl on Craig’s list? If none of this is ok, please ask yourself what are YOU going to do about it?

The great news is that it is not JUST about giving money to organizations that do this work, the work can begin in your home in terms of how you interact with and empower your wives, daughters, and yes, your sons too. Turning the TV off when you see women and girls objectified would be a great place to start. In the workplace, hire, mentor and encourage women, as well as men. We need so many more men understanding, caring about and acting like gender inequality matters TO THEM.

Thank you Women’s Funding Network Staff for an incredible few days at your annual conference, and I hope next year that if you are reading this and have not attended, you will. It is my goal as Vice-Chair of this organization to make this event the must attend gathering for those funding women and girls around the world.

footnote…
Feminism has this definition – “the policy, practice and/or advocacy of political, economic and social equality for women.” (It does NOT mean anti-men) For those of you, especially women, who say you are NOT feminists, I urge you to think about and explore the definition. Many people think it to be a very left wing political movement, which is not it’s true definition.

If you just cannot for whatever reason embrace the word feminist consider owning this …

Humanist – “a person having a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values and dignity.” Men and women, boys and girls.

Gloria Steinem, Judy Chicago, Ana Deavere Smith and more….

 

It started at 10:30 pm Tuesday night. I landed in Denver for a gathering of “Women Moving Millions” prior to the Women’s Funding Network Annual Conference, and headed straight in to a meeting with Gloria Steinem. Over water and orange juice, in a dirty meeting room we found our way in to, we spoke about the future of the women’s movement. There were just three of us, and we shared thoughts about what it meant for the first time in history that women were stepping forward in a big and bold way to fund women and girls. We shared models and ideas and and and…. I truly had to pinch myself. Was I really there, in that discussion, with Gloria Steinem? Just a few hours later Gloria addressed a group of donors about what she thought was the significance of this community, and how we could help create a more just and equitable world. It is about bringing more resources to the tables, but it is so much more. It is about women claiming their voice and standing together to be heard.

After a glorious day of visioning phase two of WMM with some of the most incredible women on the planet we headed to a Dinner Party. It was just under a year ago that Women Moving Millions celebrated the end of their phase one campaign to encourage women and men to make million dollar gifts to women’s funds. Their goal was $150 mm, and $180 million was raised. The celebration was held at the Brooklyn Museum, the home of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. This important icon of feminist art after years of not being available to the public, found it’s place in history thanks to Elizabeth Sackler. The story is told that she when she approached the Museum to say she wanted to create a center of Feminist Art for them they said, “great, but do we have to use the word feminist?” To that she answered, “if you want my money, yes you do.” And so it is named. In a room in the museum a dinner party was staged for all those women and a few good men, who contributed to the campaign. This women claimed their space in history as the first every community of high-net worth women to fund women and girls. This year we celebrated not with the art, but with the artist, Judy Chicago. Judy talked to us about her inspiration behind the dinner party, the process of creating it, and perhaps most imporantly, her lifelong effort to bring recognition to women artists. She spoke, and gave shocking examples, of women that have been and continue to be erased from history. She is on a mission to give women artists their place in history and we all can help. Please check out Judy’s website to learn more. Judy totally inspired me to seek out women artists when I am looking for art, and as importantly make sure we pressure the art organizations we are affliliated with to make sure women artists are included and added to their permanent collections. PS. This is one super cool lady!

So moments ago I had the honor of watching and listening to Anna Deavere Smith perform a one women show for the Women’s Funding Network conference attendees. Anna is a writer, an actor, an activist, a playwrite…. a gift to this planet. Anna interviews women around the world, and performs as them, in their own words. She took us on a journey from behind prison walls with a women who stood silent as her boyfriend beat her daughter to death, to Stanford University with a woman from Rwanda who at 6 years old watched as her family members were killed, to a meeting with Anne Richards, just prior to her passing. Her performance was breathtaking in it’s authenticity. To me, that is what makes women’s gatherings like these different. Authenticity. I don’t see women walking around pretending to be what they are not, but rather celebrating and enjoying both they are and why they are doing the work they are doing in the world. I listen to stories not of what vacation someone just went on, but what grantee partner just made a major milestone in their work. We talk about changing the world and stepping in to our power to do that. One day I truly hope that the room is filled not just with women, but with men too. Men that share in the understanding that you cannot leave out half the population and hope for good outcomes. Men that see that sharing power is not losing power, but expanding it. Men who realize that eliminating the effects of gender stereotyping is liberating not just for women, but for men as well. Men that realize that it is just not right, or fair, or tolerable, that thousands of women and children go missing, are uncounted, and are so much more likely to live in poverty.

Off to dinner with some completely amazing women… have a great evening.