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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Leading Philanthropies Announce Funding Collaborative to Build Women’s Power and Ensure Safe Workplaces

Women movement leaders and communities of color working to end systemic sexual harassment and violence will be resourced by an unprecedented philanthropic commitment

Press Release – NEW YORK, NY – Movement leaders who have been working for decades to end sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace and beyond will receive much-needed support with the launch of a landmark fund. The fund seeks to support the leadership of low-income women, women of color, Indigenous women, and migrant women in the United States and transnationally to create a future in which all girls and women—cis, transgender, and gender non-conforming—can live, learn, and work with safety and dignity.

“Whether in a company with thousands of employees or in a workplace of one in someone’s home, women should be able to work with safety, equality, dignity, and fairness,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President of the National Women’s Law Center. “To effect lasting change to end sexual violence, we need to build one movement, where advocates, policymakers, and philanthropists are following the lead of survivors, and this fund is a huge step toward making that a reality.

Committed funders joining together to support the vision of survivors, activists, and movement leaders include the Ford Foundation, NoVo Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Kapor Center, Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Conrad Hilton Foundation, CBS, and three anonymous foundations.

“This fund is inspired by the tireless and brave women who are doing transformative work to end violence against all girls and women, yet have been under-resourced for far too long. We’re proud to partner with other funders to help ensure their work has the sustained support it deserves and needs to thrive,” said Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation.

Fifty to 80 percent of women in the United States are sexually harassed at work. In sectors like domestic and agricultural work with high concentrations of women of color and immigrant women, women are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, as workers are often isolated and invisible.

“Women are reaching for each other like never before to build power and shape the solutions of the future. Deeper, long term support will accelerate our work to transform policies, practices, and structures so that every last person can work and live with dignity,” said Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Over the last year, high-profile cases of survivors coming forward with their stories, coupled with many years of strategic organizing by women in low-wage sectors like the restaurant industry, domestic work, and global supply chains of the garment industry, have paved the way for transformative progress.

However, the most recent statistics show that less than 2% of foundation giving in the United States has focused on gender-based violence. The fund aims to narrow the deep and long-standing gap between proven strategies to ensure the safety and dignity of all women and girls and dedicated philanthropic resources.

“To successfully disrupt inequality, we need to eradicate gender-based violence wherever it exists,” said Hilary Pennington, Executive Vice President of Programs at the Ford Foundation. “A world that holds the promise of justice must be predicated on all girls and women living their lives in safety and with dignity. By joining together across the globe, we aspire to match the boldness of survivors and activists and help ensure the breakthrough #MeToo moment translates into lasting transformative change.”

The fund will resource culture makers, movement leaders, institutions, and networks to shift power and shape narratives to end violence against women and girls, starting with the workplace as a key locus of inequity and violence, as well as a site of powerful movement building in the United states and globally. The fund will also invest in efforts to address violence against women in girls in institutions such as schools, health care facilities, and prisons. The primary focus will initially be on advancing systemic change in the United States, while also working transnationally to ensure a strong link to the global movement to end violence against women and girls.

“What’s different about this fund is that it’s driven by believing in and supporting solutions that come from the lived experiences of the most marginalized women,” said Freada Kapor Klein, Co-chair of the Kapor Center. “Women of color face staggeringly disproportionate levels of bias and harassment that limit their access, opportunities and outcomes to full participation in their workplaces and society. ”

The fund will be housed at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. It launches with more than $20 million in initial commitments and a pledge to go beyond focusing on individual bad actors by increasing support for efforts to remove structural barriers to full safety and dignity for all women.

Addressing the root causes of the international crisis of gender-based violence across the world is part of a long-term strategy to advance the following areas, with these initial goals:

  • Policy advocacy: Support advocacy for local, national, and global policies that focus on survivors first and successfully address gender-based violence in the workplace, with a focus on prevention, protection, transparency, and accountability, for example an ILO standard on violence in the world of work.
  • Narrative and culture change: Create an evidence-based communications hub that bolsters overall capacity to change existing narratives and culture through coordinated messaging, survivor-centered storytelling, art and media-based strategies, spokesperson development, and digital campaign resources.
  • Organizing and civic engagement: Build power, invest in feminist organizing in the United States and transnationally, and support relational organizing at scale.
  • Leadership development: Support survivors and feminist movement leadership across borders by seeding and scaling data-driven programs that weave together healing, political education, and community-building, with a focus on low-income earning individuals, women of color, Indigenous women, and migrant women.
  • Convening and peer learning: Convene field leaders and networks in the United States and transnationally to support mutual leadership and advocacy efforts, as well as create cross-movement spaces for philanthropic partners to learn from each other, share resources, and strategize collaboratively.

The fund is grounded in a deep commitment to racial and gender justice. Girls and women of color, Indigenous women, and migrant women are most impacted by sexual harassment and violence; they live at the intersection of sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression, and hold essential perspectives on lasting solutions. The fund is envisioned to be part of an overall philanthropic strategy to address structural racism, sexism, misogyny, and its consequences, within communities and the institutions that serve them. Additionally, it will prioritize supporting efforts that are led by women of color, Indigenous women, and migrant women.

“Sexual violence impacts all women, but the damage is compounded for women who are made vulnerable by our immigration system, by economic exploitation, and by structural racism,” said Taryn Higashi, Executive Director, Unbound Philanthropy, “We are committed to resourcing an inclusive movement to end gender-based violence, towards our vision of a vibrant, welcoming society where we all can flourish; we uphold human dignity; value our diversity; and embrace our common humanity.”

The fund is launching as a five-year philanthropic commitment. Grantmaking will begin in 2019, and will award at least $5 million in grants per year to support culture makers, movement leaders, institutions, and networks to end sexual harassment and violence against all women and girls. For more information, please visit https://www.safetyanddignityforwomen.org/


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