Global Fund for Women’s 25th Anniversary Gala

IMG_0356Last Wednesday the Global Fund for Women celebrated their 25th Anniversary of leading the way for women’s rights around the world. I flew to New York to join some amazing women trailblazers,  including keynote speaker Hillary Clinton and special guests Cecile Richards, Barbara Dobkin, Abigail Disney, Dina Dublon, Charlotte Bunch and many many more  for their gala. The evenings MC was the profoundly talented CNN journalist, international correspondent and anchor, Christine Amanpour.

I was honored to be recognized alongside Novo Foundation CEO Jennifer Buffett, with the Global Philanthropist Award.  It’s purpose is to celebrate  those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to women’s human rights across the globe. To say that I was humbled to be chosen would be a complete understatement. Also honored were three global activists, Mónica Roa from Colombia, Mozn Hassan from Egypt and Staša Zajovic from Serbialist with the inaugural Charlotte Bunch Human Rights Defender awards. These three women are beyond amazing and truly are what the Global Fund is all about, supporting women leaders around the world.

I deeply believe in the Global Fund for Women’s mission of advancing women’s human rights. While there are many amazing organizations doing amazing work, The Global Fund for Women is truly special. Like me, the Global Fund for Women believes a balanced and holistic approach to women’s advancement is essential. Their approach to directly funding women organizations, connecting them to each other and working to bring about social change from within a society is still very underfunded and quite unique. Yet, this approach- feminist mobilization in civil society- was proven last year by Mala Htun and S. Laurel Weldon to be the most effective strategy in influencing the development of policies for ending violence against women across 70 countries.

The Global Fund for Women has the networks and capacity to reach grassroots organizations and particularly marginalized populations. Over 80% of all grants reach women and girls who live in rural areas or who are especially marginalized, including women living with disabilities, adolescent girls, members of ethnic or religious minority communities, LBTQI women, and refugee women and girls. Since 1987, the Global Fund for Women has given over $100 million in grants and is the largest public foundation advancing the rights of women and girls worldwide.

Their leader is Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro .  In 2011 Dr. Kanyoro joined the Global Fund for Women as their President & CEO. Last year she came to my daughter’s school and spoke to over 500 middle and highs school aged children. Her ability to talk about the difficulties women face around the world while making the topic accessible and comprehensible to all the age groups was remarkable. I believe it is not only her years of experience managing international non-profits but also her nurturing character that makes her the perfect leader for The Global Fund. Not to mention she has two PHDs.

Below please find my brief remarks which followed a touching introduction by my feminist philanthropist leader and dear friend, Barbara Dobkin. I still cannot believe that I shared the stage with so many incredible women, including Hilary Clinton.  Getting the opportunity to meet her, listen to her, and have a photo taken together was truly special. I went off script at the beginning to thank everyone for coming, to thank the Global Fund. and to personally thank THREE amazing women that were in the room and have been the most amazing friends and mentors to me – Barbara Dobkin, Helen LaKelly Hunt, and Pat Mitchell.

My remarks…

“When Musimbi asked me to accept this award I was honestly, in a state of shock. I first said no,  as it is an honor and privilege enough, enough, just to be able to do the work that I do. But then I thought about it and…What an opportunity to share with you an urgent message. Now. Now is the moment to go ALL IN for the advancement of women and girls. Not JUST to LEAN IN (though I love that concept and thank you Sheryl) but to go ALL INWith all the amazing work that has been done, all the research, all the evidence, all the leadership, all of it, at our back, let’s together go ALL IN and use all our resources, YES our giving dollars (and please give generously to the Global Fund for Women)  but also our investment dollars, and our purchasing power, in greater alignment with our vision to create a more gender balanced world. This moment is about money, it’s about power, it’s about leadership, it’s about changing the world. I have the pleasure as CEO of Women Moving Millions to ask women, men, corporations, to give big and bold to women and girls. It is an easy task for I know this to be true. I know it. That when power is more equitably distributed between men and women. When women and girls have greater access to the resources they need to thrive. When women are more proportionately represented at decision-making tables. When organizations, like the Global Fund for Women are in a place to say, “ no thank you, we really don’t need more money, we are good.” The World will be a more safe, and just and equitable world for everyone.”

My dear friend from Park City, Utah, Susan Weaver, made a very special Wonder Woman Apron to give to the highest pledge of the evening.  Barbara’s husband Eric modeled it for the evening and felt compelled to share that “While Barbara wears the pants in the family, I where the apron.” That was beautiful. Thank you SUSAN for helping us to raise $1.5 million.

Why No Wonder Woman?

Regular readers of this site will know that it’s no secret how much I love Wonder Woman. I have been a fan of this character since I was a child, and to this day I am an avid collector of Wonder Woman memorabilia. Over the past 11 years I have been on a journey, a quest if you will, to help this world become more gender balanced, and Wonder Woman has been with me every step, inspiring me to be my own Wonder Woman, and manifesting herself in the many incredible women I have met along the way.

Regular readers will also know that I am a huge film lover, and I have pursued this love through my involvement with Impact Partners, my current position on the Board of the Sundance Institute and as an Advisory Board member and investor to Gamechangers, a feature film fund for women directors that is soon to be launched. Last year I Executive Produced my first film, Ready To Fly, and have given grants and invested in many other documentaries such as Miss Representation, Invisible War, and Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, premiering tonight on PBS.

I have watched superheroes dominate the box office for the past several years and hoped that someday Wonder Woman would get her due, but so far those hopes have been in vain.

As I became increasingly frustrated with Wonder Woman’s absence, I figured I could just get mad about it, or, I could try and do something about it. Taking my cue from Wonder Woman, I chose the course of action, and the result is a 60 page report that is being released today. Over two years in the making, this report has been a labor of love, and I hope that people read it and feel compelled to join the cause of getting Wonder Woman to the big screen.

This report chronicles the history of Wonder Woman, her appearances in other media, and most importantly, examines the many factors that have kept her from joining the likes of Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man on screen. I chose this date for the release because tonight is the night that Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines is premiering on PBS, and it is my hope that viewers of this film and Wonder Woman fans everywhere can stand up together to demand an end to Wonder Woman’s absence on the big screen.

To help bring people together, we have set up a Facebook page where people can post their thoughts on what they would like to see in the film and their personal experiences with Wonder Woman. You can find and like the page here to show your support.

Additionally, we have set up a petition that people can sign to demand a Wonder Woman film NOW. The petition can be found here

Finally, the report can be found here, in the WW Report section of my site.

Why No Wonder Woman?

When a critical mass of people get behind an issue, history has shown that things can change. Let’s show Warner Brothers and DC Comics that Wonder Woman fans have waited long enough for this film. It’s time for Wonder Woman to get her due, and that time is now.

Rising International and Using Our Financial Power for Positive Change

Carmel-JudOn March 19th, I was honoured to give the keynote speech at the 5th Annual Hands of Hope Luncheon for Rising International. Rising International is an incredible organization that seeks to eliminate extreme poverty in the world through the economic empowerment of women in some of the world’s poorest countries.

I love the layered effect, the wave effect, the ripple effect of this organization’s work. The women who create the product, called Rising Artisans, create beautiful homemade crafts providing them with money to support themselves and their families. The product is then sold  by Rising Representatives in the United States, most of whom are  from low income backgrounds themselves. Women like me, like you, then host the parties where the Rising Rep presents and sells.  The monies raised support Rising’s minimal, and I mean minimal, infrastructure costs, the sales representative, and the producing woman. Meanwhile we get to buy really cool goods and feel great about it. This is what you might call a win, WIN, WIIINNNNN. ( you can also buy direct from their web-site.)

Through this partnership, Rising International is building a community of women who are taking charge of their lives, and are helping each other to rise out of poverty by becoming economically self sufficient. Founded by Carmel Jud in 2003 ( pictured) , Rising International looked to the business model of Avon, where 5 million women generate $10 billion in revenue every year by selling Avon products. Imagine the economical and social impact of 5 million women selling products to benefit the world’s poorest women. The possibilities are endless and paradigm shifting.

When Carmel asked me to give the key-note speech, how could I say no?  My remarks followed the logic model of the TED Talk I gave last year. In this speech I talk about the reasons why there is no better time than the present day to address the gender inequalities that exist on every level of life in every country in the world, and do something about it!  While there are many reasons for why now is the right moment, the four primary points I address are:

1) The fact that there is a growing body of research that shows that gender equality is good for economic development, peace, and sustainability. We case has been made! ( see my resource section)

2) That men are recognizing the benefits and importance of gender equality and are joining women to create positive  change. Gender inequality is no longer framed as a women’s issue, it as a human rights and economic development issue.

3) That technology is now playing such an important role in both communicating need, and enabling action.

4) The fact that more and more people are using their money and resources to advance the causes and values in which they most believe.

With all of these factors combined, there has never been a better time to enact real and lasting change for the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.

My speech went on to say that money should not be viewed as a symbol of power, but rather as a powerful tool for social change. Money is not the end game, it is the means. It is high time we rethink about the role that many plays in our lives and in our culture in general.  I asked everyone consider how they are using their financial resources to serve their values and vision.

It is well documented that women make the majority of purchasing decisions in households in the United States. This is why billions of dollars are spent every year in ad campaigns that are targeted directly at women. Imagine how quickly things would change if we were to use that incredible financial power to support women and women’s leadership? If, for example, women were to put their purchasing power behind companies that had a critical mass of women on their boards, and stop buying products from them if they don’t, imagine how quickly corporate boards would diversify.   If you think that is a good idea but are asking yourself how would I know that? Check out Women on Boards 2020 and their corporate directory.  An IPHONE AP is coming!

What I hope people took away from both my speech at Rising International, and from watching my TED Talk, is that a world where women and girls enjoy more equal status at all levels of society is a world that is not only attainable, but one that we all have the power and resources to make happen, today. How we use our financial resources: our giving dollars, our investment dollars, our spending dollars, are key to this vision. When it comes right down to it, there is simply no good reason for the stalled progress of the past decade. It is time for NO EXCUSES, let’s work together for change.

Generously said from Carmel..

Jacki Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions delivered the keynote address for our Hands of Hope Luncheon on March 19th. We’ve been producing this luncheon event for 5 years now, and this was by far our most successful event ever.  Jacki’s message was powerful: that we must more fully use our financial resources; our giving, spending and investing dollars, in greater alignment with a vision for a more just and equitable world.  Event attendees have been calling and emailing our office expressing their excitement and conviction for joining Jacki in supporting and empowering women and girls. Jacki Zehner is a powerful speaker with a powerful purpose who is transforming lives, and we are deeply grateful she shared her passionate message at our event.