100 MORE Reports for IWD2021

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on March 8th, 2021.

Every March 8th I have a tradition. In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD), I release my latest list of the top reports that support gender focused giving, investment, and action. More specifically, research that sheds light on gender inequities, with the hope of advancing the rights and well-being of women and girls. The first list was released in 2017, but I had been collecting this research for almost two decades by that point. Over the years, the list had grown to 400 reports, and I felt it was high time to share this information broadly. By March 8th, 2018, that list had grown to 500 reports, and a tradition was born. My hope was then and is now that these lists would be a resource for anyone and everyone. I am not at all convinced that data drives change, but I do believe that evidence and data can direct resources, mainly financial resources, towards issues, people, organizations, and strategies for change.

For IWD 2020, I published my latest list of 650 reports, and I declared the project to be finished. To be clear, I wasn’t finished with the data, but I was done with the obsessive aggregation of it. It was just too much. It felt like every single day another report would come through my inbox, and the responsibility that I felt to do something with them was getting overwhelming. That said, we, myself and Laura, kept track anyways. Old habits die hard I suppose.

In just a few short weeks that followed IWD 2020, COVID-19 brought the world to a halt and our global infrastructure to its knees. The pandemic exposed the cracks in our “systems” in ways that no one could have imagined last March 8th, and as we approach the one year anniversary of quarantines, lockdowns, and shelter in place orders, one thing is abundantly clear. COVID-19 has been absolutely devastating for far too many people, and disproportionately, far too many women, particularly women of color.

It is not surprising that many of the reports that have been published in this past year focus on these disproportionate and challenging outcomes. In fact, we had to add an entirely new section to correctly categorize them. If you have been tracking headlines, you already know about the rise of violence against women throughout the world in the wake of COVID-19. Other reports reveal the cataclysmic setbacks to women’s economic stability and employment participation. Some experts predict it will be decades before women recover financially from the events of the past year.

So here we are again with a new list; 100 reports that have come to our attention since our last release. In this document, you will find the source of the report, a brief description, and a link for further reading. This list serves as a complement to the list of 650 reports that was released a year ago.

So yes, I am continuing with my International Women’s Day tradition, and this year it is bittersweet. After years of feeling like some progress has been made, this past year has created some very big setbacks. So while I continue to declare that finance is the new frontier of feminism, which was my theme for 2020, I do so this year with an even bigger call to action. As we begin to feel safe stepping outside and returning to somewhat more normal times, let us be sure to look more intentionally for those whose lives have been deeply impacted and try to do more. Furthermore, as we start to rebuild, we need to be asking the hard questions around who is getting the resources to do that rebuilding, and whether that distribution is just and equitable.

Saying “Happy” International Women’s Day does not feel right this year, so instead I invite you to take a look at the 100 reports aggregated for you, scan the descriptions, and pick one to really look at. Really read it and let it sink it. No women or girl wants to be reduced down to a statistic, and yet that is what so often happens with these reports. The time, effort, and money that went into producing every single one of them comes with a hope that someone, somewhere, will read it and do something to help. I am hoping that you might be that someone.

For me, it was hard to pick just one report to feature for this article, but the one below was written by a person and organization that has many reports on our best of list.

Disrupting Fields: Addressing Power Dynamics in the Fields of Climate Finance and Gender Lens Investing. Criterion Institute. 2021.

“The research behind this paper examined power dynamics in the development of two fields, climate finance and gender lens investing. It provides a deeper analysis of the dynamics that have shaped the development of these fields and asks whether the fields have been disruptive enough. The thesis of this paper is that the awareness of power dynamics will lead to a more intentional design of field building efforts within gender lens investing and climate finance, thereby ensuring that these efforts are addressing and not needlessly calcifying and replicating existing dynamics and inequities in systems of finance.”

This paper was produced by the Criterion Institute, and more specifically by Joy Anderson. Joy is somewhat indescribable, but someone recently called her the oracle of finance, and I thought, Heck Yes! “Criterion is a nonprofit think tank that works with social change-makers to demystify finance and broaden their perspective on how to engage with and shift financial systems. They believe that you cannot innovate our way to a new future without addressing structural inequities in the design of any solution. And we can’t do this effectively without focusing on power: who has it, who doesn’t, and why. Our financial systems wield incredible power, yet they’re controlled by a relative few. Finance is also sustained by complex language and processes which stop those who would most benefit from understanding how they really work. We work to transform relationships of power so that more can imagine using finance as a tool for social change.” Again, HECK YES!

This paper demands your full attention, and my attempts to add additional context to what is written above have failed miserably. But the reason why I think this report is so important is that I believe our financial systems are not working for the vast majority of people. This report invites us to think about these systems as systems of power. And if we are advocates for positive change in the world, then this matters. Really matters. So thank you to Joy and all who contributed to this landmark paper.

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.