International Women’s Day: Giving to Women & Girls

“It was late afternoon when 14-year-old Reshma was getting ready for her wedding at a beauty parlor in the Old City of Hyderabad. Reshma was one of 33 brides, all under the age of 18, to be married that night in an illegal ceremony at 3 a.m. Reshma thought marriage was her only option until she met the girls of Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Shaheen, at the beauty parlor. The girls, all survivors of forced marriages, search beauty parlors in the Old City, looking for others just like Reshma who are preparing for weddings they don’t want.”  – Read more at Global Fund for Women

I share this story with you in honor of International Women’s Day. Mostly as a reminder at how far we still have to go for women across the world.

We live in modern times. Our lives are filled with technology and we can communicate across the globe faster than we can blink. In most countries, women vote, work and own property. We marry (or not) and have babies (or not). Do we really still need a day that pushes women’s rights? Yeah. We badly do.

As long as there is inequality, violence and oppression happening to women across the world, we need reminders like International Women’s Day. We need the world’s attention, even if it’s for one day, on issues like rape, domestic abuse, sexual assault and harassment. Human trafficking. Female mutilation. Girls denied education and forced to marry. And women still (still…) earning an average 15% less than our male colleagues.

International Women’s Day celebrates the political, economic and social achievements of women worldwide. (Here’s a quick and interesting history of IWD here. And above, you can watch a fun video compiled by Google, celebrating the day.) It also is a call to action on the work that needs to be done.

It got me wondering about the funders out there who have been tirelessly fighting for women and girls’ equality all along. Here are the three I admire most, with a summary from their websites:

  • Mama Cash Foundation – In 1983, five feminists sat around a kitchen table in Amsterdam and started an initiative that would develop into an international grantmaking organization that supports women and girls around the globe in their fight for equal rights. Courageous women and girls who, in the face of often challenging circumstances, make themselves heard, take risks and bring about fundamental changes. Read more.
  • Global Fund for Women – The Global Fund for Women was founded in Palo Alto by three bold women, who were convinced that women’s human rights and dignity were essential to advancing global agendas for social, economic, and political change. Frustrated by traditional philanthropy’s lack of interest in funding women’s groups and human rights, they forged a new path, founding an organization that would fund women-led organizations directly. Read more.
  • Dining for Women – In the fall of 2002, Marsha Wallace, a former nurse and mother of four from Greenville, SC, read an article about a group of friends who met for potluck dinners and collected donations for needy families using the money they would have otherwise spent in restaurants. Marsha was struck by the idea of using “dining out dollars” to help others, and the idea of Dining for Women – now a global giving circle – was born. Her simple, but powerful idea has since improved the lives of women and girls worldwide, who often live on less than $1 a day. Read more.

Want a list of more international funders who focus on women and girls? Click here or visit the Women’s Funding Network.

To all of you funders and freedom workers out there who work daily for the rights of women, and the safety and education and empowerment of young girls…I bow in thanks and respect to you.

Which are the funders of women and girls’ issues that you admire? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.

About Elaine

Elaine Gast Fawcett helps grantmakers, nonprofits and businesses tell their story, market their mission and attract more support.
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