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.