Thursday, March 31, 2011

Women Helping Women

I am extremely honored to be included in this fabulous list of "Women Helping Women," located on a new web-site that I hope to be a regular contributer to. Thank you to the most wonderful Ruthie Ackerman for highlighting so many Women Moving Million donors. ( click here ) The site is Financial Advisors, part of a group of media properties of Source Media.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Why I am a Male Feminist"

Ok I realize I have been a very lazy blogger of late. Rather then writing about my own thoughts on various topics I link to other people's writings that move me. In part it is a time issue, but the larger piece is that there are just so many great articles and stories out there worth sharing. Below please find an excerpt from an article by Byron Hurt on "Why I am a male feminist." The entire article can be found by clicking here.

"Like most guys, I had bought into the stereotype that all feminists were white, lesbian, unattractive male bashers who hated all men. But after reading the work of these black feminists, I realized that this was far from the truth. After digging into their work, I came to really respect the intelligence, courage and honesty of these women.

Feminists did not hate men. In fact, they loved men. But just as my father had silenced my mother during their arguments to avoid hearing her gripes, men silenced feminists by belittling them in order to dodge hearing the truth about who we are.

I learned that feminists offered an important critique about a male-dominated society that routinely, and globally, treated women like second-class citizens. They spoke the truth, and even though I was a man, their truth spoke to me. Through feminism, I developed a language that helped me better articulate things that I had experienced growing up as a male.

Feminist writings about patriarchy, racism, capitalism and structural sexism resonated with me because I had witnessed firsthand the kind of male dominance they challenged. I saw it as a child in my home and perpetuated it as an adult. Their analysis of male culture and male behavior helped me put my father's patriarchy into a much larger social context, and also helped me understand myself better.

I decided that I loved feminists and embraced feminism. Not only does feminism give woman a voice, but it also clears the way for men to free themselves from the stranglehold of traditional masculinity. When we hurt the women in our lives, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our community, too. "

I want to thank Mr. Hurt on writing such a brave and powerful article. He gets it. He gets that feminism is not a women win and men lose thing. Feminism is about creating a better world for all. When men and women more equally share in power and decision making, when they make an effort to more fully understand each other, when we work to bring out the full potential in each other, then we will have a more just, equitable and peaceful world. This is what it is about!!!!! Men have much to gain in this new paradigm and I hope and pray that more men gain this perspective and claim their feminist voice.

Have a wonderful Sunday. We are off to church where I will pray for this future.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Widows in Afghanistan

day16 widowThis is why I care so much about working for women and girls around the world.

"After more than 30 years of fighting, Afghanistan has one of the highest percentages (6-8%) of widows in the world. Although the Afghan government doesn't have an accurate total for widows in the country due to the lack of a recent census, some officials estimate the number to be upwards of 2 million. By extrapolating from other demographic data, it's thought that the average age of an Afghan widow is about 35, that 90% of widows have children to shelter and feed, and that 94% are unable to read or write.

In Afghanistan's patriarchal society, the death of a husband not only diminishes a woman's economic security, but also removes her social protections, putting her at the lowest level of society. As a result, the most pressing issues for most widows are making a living and finding some measure of social protection. To survive and provide for their children, many Afghan widows find menial work weaving carpets, working in tailor shops, begging on the streets, or becoming prostitutes.

In response to this crisis, numerous international volunteer groups, churches, and other non-governmental organizations, as well as ISAF teams of female military personnel are working in Afghan villages to equip widows with the life skills they require to survive. The goals of such programs are generally tow-fold: the first is to teach widows how to live independently and earn a living wage without relying on government handouts and terrorist provided security which subjects them to human rights abuses; and second to demonstrate that ISAF forces are indeed in their country to protect them and help them rebuild their shattered country so that they can provide a future for their children. "

Friday, March 18, 2011

More on the White House Council Report

Two weeks ago the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report titled "Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being" (available by clicking here )the most comprehensive report on the state of women in the United States since the Kennedy administration. The report uses data collected from a wide variety of government agencies and paints a picture of women in five focus areas: People, Families and Income; Education; Employment; Health; and Crime and Violence. The results were mixed--some good news, some bad.

First, the good news: We've seen positive changes with respect to education, employment and violence against women.

Women ages 25-34 are now more likely than their male peers to have attained a college degree, which is a reversal of the norm 40 years ago. They are also attending graduate school in greater numbers--11 percent of women compared to 8 percent of men. Overall, women have outpaced men in educational attainment over the past 40 years.

Unemployment rates for women have risen less for men in the most recent periods of recession, and women's labor force participation rate has held steady around 61% since 1997.

Between 1993 and 2008, homicides and nonfatal violent crimes committed against women both declined. Additionally, nonfatal attacks on women by intimate partners declined between 1994 and 2008.

The picture isn't quite as rosy as we might hope based on that news though. Women may be making great gains in education, and while we know that education increases earnings for both women and men, it doesn't translate to a closing of the pay gap. More women than men work part time, and occupational segregation persists. Women are also still working a "second shift"--In households with employed husbands and wives, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on household activities and caring for family members, while men spent about 1.6 hours on the same activities. Female headed families also had the lowest earnings among all family types, and the poverty rate for female householders with children under 18 years of age is still nearly three times as high as the overall male and female poverty rates.

Women's health is also worse than men's--more women than men report having chronic medical conditions, and more females over the age of 12 report experiencing depression than their male counterparts. Additionally, more than one third of women age 20 and older are obese.

With respect to crime and violence, women are a small but growing share of individuals arrested for violent crimes other than homicide, and the imprisonment rate for females has increased significantly since 1985. On the other side of the equation, women face a greater threat of stalking victimization.

There was also one slightly misleading statistic included in the crime and violence portion of the report as well. According to the data, reported rapes declined during the '90s and have remained stable since then, hovering around 1 per 1,000 females aged 12 and over. However, in the notes, the authors write "Other government studies that asked more detailed questions specifically about sexual assault have found higher rates of victimization." Similarly, it is also worth noting that 54 percent of women surveyed who reported being raped did not notify the police. The culture of silence around sexual assault is truly pervasive. If someone had their wallet or their purse stolen, they would report it to the police, but when women have their dignity stolen they blame themselves--and others place the blame on them as well. True change will happen when rape is viewed by the public like the crime it is, rather than a private, personal problem.

We've made progress in important areas, but as the numbers show, we've still got a long way to go.

( thanks to Erica O-Neil for researching and writing this post)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

BE A MAN!! .... by supporting women.

Ok this is awesome. Truly AWESOME. It is a video in support of giving money to Women's Funds! You must watch and congrats to the Women's Fund of Central Ohio for creating such a great video and campaign. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( here is the link)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Women World Wide - Leading Through Philanthropy

I am in Chicago for the 2011 Women World Wide Leading Through Philanthropy conference by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The speaker line-up is incredible, including many of the world's leading philanthropists and industry leaders. Be sure to check out the center's website for incredible information on the state of giving in America.

Generosity is hot. Generosity is cool. Generous people should be our celebrities, not stars of TV sitcoms that seem to be losing their marbles. If we gave 1/10 the amount of media time to people that are helping others that we do to derailed movie and TV stars, our world will be a better place. For just such a story check out this article by Camilla Webster in FORBES. I had the honor of being interviewed by Camilla for her upcoming book and she is one fabulous woman. Thanks Camilla for this inspiring story. Pass it on.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day!!! Time to celebrate or ??

Today is the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day - "It is a major day of global celebration of women. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements." ( Wikipedia) So if you are a woman, be sure to get lots of of extra hugs today from the men in your life, and give your sisters some high fives.

But here is the question - As American Women ( full disclosure I am Canadian living in the US ) do we have a lot to celebrate or if this a moment to say where we are is unacceptable and it is time to step up and create positive change? Here are some facts to help you think about your answer:
  • The US ranks 37th in gender equality among the world's 42 most highly developed nations
  • The US ranks 64th globally with a 19 percent wage gap between male and female full-time workers
  • The US ranks last among the world's top 11 industrialized nations in both infant and maternal mortality ( above from the Ms. Foundation )
  • Nationally, women are 57% of all college students but only 26% of full professors, 23% of university presidents and 14% of presidents at the doctoral degree-granting institutions
  • Among Fortune 500 companies, women constitute only 3% of the CEO's, 6% of the top paying positions and 16% of the corporate officers
  • In film, women constitute 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers and cinematographers
  • Of the top 15 media corporations (which include a mix of print, online, television and radio businesses), all CEO's are male and only 17% of board members are women
  • Despite being nearly half (48%) of law school graduates, women make up only 18% of law partners and only one in four are judges.
  • The military remains the only profession in the United States which under Department of Defense policy prohibits women from taking certain jobs. This hinders women from being promoted to the top levels of leadership
  • Women make up only 17% of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; no women have ever been presidents or vice president. Women of color are completely absent from the Senate and only account for 5% in the House of Representatives

I assume you can guess where I am on this issue. This is unacceptable to me. Unacceptable. It has been and will continue to be my life's work to help in whatever way I can to narrow these gaps and help create a world where both men and women, boys and girls, can live in a more peaceful and just way. So when I raise a glass tonight it will be NOT be to toast our progress, but to recommit myself to the promise of a better future. Be part of the solution. Be the change you want to see in the world. Believe that gender inequality is an important issue and deserves your attention no matter what you age, race or gender.

Many of the statistics above were pulled from this comprehensive study - White House Project's Benchmarking Study. Take a look. ( click here )

The list of amazing articles that were written in honor of today is very long indeed and I will in the next blog attempt to gather the best of.

For now watch this new video just released by V Day! V Day's mission, to end violence against women and girls. Eve Ensler thank you for creating such a powerful movement. You have made such a difference. ( click here to watch )

Monday, March 7, 2011

Women Who Shake the World!

The Daily Beast's annual Women in the World Conference is next week in New York. As Women Moving Million's Co Chair I was fortunate to get an invite, but had to pass it on to another WMM member as I will be attending the "Women World Wide Leading through Philanthropy" event in Chicago at the same time. There is no doubt that this gathering is going to be fantastic! Visit this link to see their list of 150 Women Who Shake the World. Congrats to the many WMM donors that are part of this incredible list.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Wonder Woman Documentary in the Making!

Check out this link about a documentary that is in process. Have I reached out to the filmmakers? You bet. More as that unfolds. ( click here for the link)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Women In America!

After 10 days of travel - LA for fun and San Fran for a 3 day Women's Funding Network Board Meeting and Retreat I am back and caught up! I am suffering from blog constipation. There are SO MANY topics all blocked up and I need to get them out!! I will try a blog a day for a while. After three years of blogging without focusing on how to really get my blog out there, I think it is time to get my act together. I just read about a mommy blogger who has millions of followers. Inspiring! Ok, on to the topic for today!

It is Women's History Month!! In honor of this the WHITE HOUSE is having a call on WOMEN IN AMERICA! They just released a HUGE report on this topic and can be downloaded here. It looks absolutely incredible. Be sure to check it out and share the link.