Jacki Zehner On Women, Money, and Changing the World  » Global Fund for Women’s 25th Anniversary Gala

April 23, 2013

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.

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