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Women in Philanthropy: Dismantling the Gender Gap

April 09, 2024

On a Tuesday morning in March during Women’s History Month, Ariela Blätter had some bad news.

“No country in the world affords women the same opportunities as men,” Blätter, president and CEO of Women in International Security, said, quoting from The World Bank’s March 2024 Women, Business, and the Law report.

The report went on to say, in fact, women enjoy fewer than two-thirds the rights of men when taking into account childcare and safety issues.

“Violence physically prevents women from going into work, and childcare makes it cost-prohibitive,” Blätter said.

These were not the pronouncements one would hope for during a month celebrating women, but to improve the lives of women across the globe, philanthropy must confront these truths head-on.

Along with Anne Coolen, global vice president of programs at Vision Spring, and Moutushi Sengupta, chief of capital mobilization at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, Blätter spoke on a webinar panel hosted by the International Grantmakers Network and Philanthropy New York on gender equity with a focus on grantmaking with a gender lens.

Through 90 minutes of sobering discussion, the panelists discussed gender’s intersectionality and how the needs, preferences, and priorities of women must be addressed by philanthropy.

As women gain more equity and access to capital, the field of philanthropy is changing alongside it. According to , the rise of female philanthropists has increased the sums of money directed toward underfunded and marginalized causes. For example, issues such as reproductive health or gender equity in the workplace, are becoming increasingly popular funding areas.

첥Ƶ (RPA) has long understood the importance of accelerating philanthropy in support of gender equity. As a champion of the rights of women, RPA has a deep and meaningful track record of enabling this funding area. Recent examples of RPA supporting increased rights for women include:

  • Currently serving as the sponsored project host for both the Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity and Grantmakers for Girls of Color. According to Elizabeth Droggitis, RPA’s director of global empowerment and opportunities, we manage the operational infrastructure to carry out the programmatic activities at both organizations, particularly for grantmaking.
  • From 2021 to 2023, we served as the sponsored project host to the Gender Centre of Excellence, a strategic resource center that “provides much-needed support to the Nigerian financial inclusion ecosystem to design, implement, and sustain gender-responsive policies, products, and services that serve the needs of the unbanked or underbanked populations, particularly low-income women,” according to Henrietta Bankole-Olusina, RPA’s vice president for economic inclusion.
  • Serving as the fiscal sponsor for the Women’s Political Leadership Foundation, which aims to advance women’s political leadership, particularly in the Global South. RPA proudly provides critical guidance and operations support during the launch and start-up phase of the Fund.

Toward the end of webinar, in a sunlit room in Accra, Ghana, where she lives, Anne Coolen of Vision Spring, left the group with inspiring words to carry on the work philanthropy is doing for women not only during Women’s History Month but, rather, all year.

“Let this serve as a powerful reminder that we are able to transform the impact on women and girls if we invest in them,” Coolen said. “And that comes from different types of investment. It’s not only our resources; it’s also about building their capacity, making sure (we) remove the barriers. It’s not a one-size-fits-all.”

She continued with one final thought.

“Let’s do our share and contribute so women can also thrive,” she said, “and therefore communities can thrive.”

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