500 Reasons to Support International Women’s Day

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on March 8th, 2018.

Every March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, a celebration first held in 1909 in New York, but which was formally declared an annual international celebration by the United Nations in 1975 during the International Women’s Year. Today, March 8th is officially a public holiday in numerous countries around the world, including Cambodia, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Nepal, Mongolia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and there are events scheduled to mark this occasion in nearly every country across the globe. International Women’s Day is both a celebration of the accomplishments of women worldwide, and a call to action for gender equality and world peace, and I hope you all join me today in celebrating the incredible women in your life.

Every year, the United Nations picks a theme for the celebrations, and this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Time is Now. I can’t think of a better mantra coming off of the year we’ve just had. Incredible strides have been made, yes, but we still have so much farther to go. Gender inequality is not yesterday’s business, it is today’s. The Time is Now. This past year was, for me, the year that moments became movements, and movements are about people moving together towards a better future.

So what makes people move, individually and collectively? Many things, including personal experiences, values, stories of others, and yes, data. Prior to my extensive work in philanthropy, I worked in the finance industry as a trader, and I relied on numbers, statistics, and data to inform my decisions and my actions. As I transitioned out of the financial sector and into the philanthropic space, I brought this mindset with me. Though I personally did not need evidence to prove what I know to be true; that a more gender balanced and inclusive world will be a better world for all, when I truly dug into the research, I learned the depth of the need, the depth of the inequities, the depth of the opportunities, and the depth of proven interventions in need of resources. A road-map for positive change is in the research. It is not hypothetical, it is real. So not only did I search out, collect, and aggregate research and studies, but I shared them. Last year, in honour of International’s Women’s Day 2017, I published the Top 400 Reports on Women and Girls. 

The response to this publication was fantastic, and over this past year it has been an invaluable resource on more occasions than I can count. However, it quickly became clear that 400 reports, as high a number as that may seem, did not nearly encompass the scope of the research available. I continued to collect and gather research, studies, and reports, and before I knew it, that list had grown to 500 reports across 20 different categories, including Arts, Entertainment, Film & Media, Impact Investing with a Gender Lens, Philanthropy, Violence Against Women & Trafficking, Entrepreneurship, and Political Representation. There’s even a section for Masculinity and Engaging Men in Gender Equality.

I cannot promise that this list will be updated and republished every March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day, but I’m hoping it will, so please send me any missed or new reports for inclusion in future editions to @researchonwomen and #researchonWandG on twitter, or post the link below.

Happy International Women’s Day!

The Evidence is In: 400 Reports to Support Gender Lens Giving and Investing

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on March 8th, 2017.

Today is International Women’s Day, which is observed every year on March 8th. The first known observance of International Women’s Day was in 1909 in New York, and although it may have humble origins, this day has since grown into a worldwide movement, a day of activism, and in some countries, a public holiday. Since 1996, an official theme for International Women’s Day has been chosen by the United Nations, and this year, the theme is Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030. Not coincidentally, this year’s celebrations will be marked by worldwide women’s strikes, dubbed A Day Without Women, as well as protests for equal pay and gender equality. Every year brilliant people write impassioned pieces about women’s rights, why it matters, and what needs to change going forward, so be sure to follow the conversation online at #IWD2017 and #beboldforchange.

So what can I add to this conversation? Research. Before I became a full-time philanthropist and investor, I worked on Wall Street. I was a trader at Goldman Sachs, and I relied heavily on research to inform my investment decisions. Which securities and sectors had value and which did not? The answers to these questions were to be found in the research. After leaving Wall Street and turning my attention more fully to the issue of gender equality, and more specifically women’s inclusion, empowerment, and leadership, I found myself once more looking to the research to inform my decisions and my path. I not only wanted to know the facts in order to be able to “make the case” for investing in gender based issues, but I wanted to find out which strategies for social change had the most impact. So I began collecting and reading research, and quickly discovered that there was a lot of it out there. There were times when it felt like a new study was coming out every day, and I grew increasingly frustrated with the fact that there was no centralized location, a hub of sorts, that aggregated all of these reports on women and girls. I spent so much time forwarding on links that I knew others would want access to that I finally began collecting these links all together in one location.

Today, in honor of International Women’s Day 2017, I am releasing the current version of this document, which features 400 of the best reports I have been able to find across 18 different categories, including arts and entertainment, economic empowerment, health and reproductive rights, science and technology, and political representation. For years I have simply called this document the best reports on women and girls, but today I have a new name: Top Reports on Women and Girls: Supporting Gender Lens Giving and Investing. I hope that this aggregated work will serve as a great resource for those currently working on research on women and girls, both to see what is already out there so as to not needlessly repeat research, as well as to get a better picture of what questions still need to be answered.

I am quite sure that I have not captured every possible study that is available, so please feel free to message me with your favorites that I have missed or post them in the comments section. I also created a Twitter handle specifically to spread the word about the research I find, so please tweet any additional studies to @researchonwomen using #researchonWandG. I hope you find this list as inspiring as I do, and I wish everyone, man or woman, a wonderful International Women’s Day.

March On!

img_5675As published in LinkedIn Influencers on January 19th, 2017.

In the hours following November’s election, a Facebook event was created for a rally in Washington, DC. The date? January 21st. The day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Within hours, similar event pages had been created and thousands had indicated that they would be going. By Day 1, many of these pages had been merged, and the Women’s March on Washington went from being an idea to reality. By Day 2, leaders from diverse backgrounds were brought in to ensure that as wide a range of voices as possible would be heard. Within a month, over 100 organizations had lent their support and resources to the organization of the event. And on January 12th, organizers released their official policy program, which outlined an aggressively progressive proposal that was lauded for its unapologetic stance on many of this nation’s most pressing and crucial political and social issues. It is estimated that up to 250,000 people will attend the march in Washington, with sister marches planned in all 50 states. Potentially millions more will march in over 150 cities in 60 countries across all six continents worldwide. It will be the largest demonstration on the first day of a new administration in the history of the United States, and it all started with a simple Facebook event group.

It will likely be generations before the full ramifications of technology’s swift and massive influence over so many aspects of our lives will be fully understood, and while there has been much hand wringing over the relentless pace of technological advancements, I myself can only marvel at the resources that we now have at our fingertips. With just a few clicks or taps, an idea can go viral and a movement can be born, and although movement building is nothing new, the sheer scope and speed at which people can come together due to today’s communication tools is staggering to behold. Not only are people coming together, but they are sharing ideas, perspectives, and stories, and when criticisms are raised, people are listening and engaging. In its earliest incarnation, the Women’s March on Washington was quite rightly criticized for its all white leadership and for appropriating the name Million Women March from the historic 1997 march in Philadelphia. Organizers moved quickly to correct these early errors, bringing in respected leaders from diverse backgrounds and renaming the event. Today, on the eve of the march, it promises to be one of the most inclusive and diverse rallies in the history of this country, and it has come together in just a fraction of the time an event of this scope would normally need. That’s the power of technology, and its potential for the future is truly inspiring.

The Women’s March on Washington promises to be a historic event, and while I hope you will all come out and join us on January 21st, my bigger hope is that this Saturday is merely the beginning of a new age of positive and peaceful activism. If one Facebook event page can lead to an event of this size, imagine what we can accomplish going forward. I have made it my life’s work to advocate on behalf of women and girls around the world for gender parity, so I will be proudly marching this Saturday in Park City (#marchonmain) alongside my incredible daughter and many dear friends for many causes that I hold dear. Organizers have repeatedly stressed that this rally should not be seen as anti-Trump, but rather an event for all defenders of human rights, so regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, I hope you will join us, either in Washington, or across the US and the world at large. As the policy platform of the march states, we are all in this together.

The Women’s March on Washington is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination. 

Recognizing that women have intersecting identities and are therefore impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues, we have outlined a representative vision for a government that is based on the principles of liberty and justice for all. As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”