Hurray for Our Signs?

Women’s Marches  happen in major cities and will happen again in January 2019 in Oakland. Each March is about a five-hour event for participants.

Each March represents thousands of unpaid hours for organizers and volunteers.The March in Oakland spends in excess of $100,000, the majority for police ‘protection.’Seems that our guarantees of free speech and right to assemble should not be subject to such a shakedown.

WS Many signs

In Oakland,  about 100,000 thousand people turned out in 2017, and between 40,000 -50,000 in 2018. The call to resist the Trump Administration’s predations – rather than to empower at the local level – is a prominent one. Not much about the Women’s March seems to appeal to women of color, those with the most to gain when gender parity is actually achieved.

What has improved for the women of Oakland because of the Marches? Social and broadcast media attention for a week or so.  Then everyone goes back (to borrow a phrase from James Baldwin) to their ‘sunlit prison.’

All women face enormous hurdles to achieve not only controls of their bodies and lives but ascension of their priorities – locally, nationally, and globally.  Our second-class status is profoundly embedded in our cultures. Therein lies the most formidable challenge – women’s embrace of their own worthiness and value.

What If … the Women’s March identified a goal for community action for 2019?  There are so many barriers afflicting,  women, let’s pick one as an example.

What If … the dollars invested in the March meant that Alameda County would get not the usual 6,000+ calls about domestic violence this year, but instead created a 50% reduction – because women had been learning and practicing ways to heal and protect themselves. And abusers always faced consequences.

What would such an effort look like?  Surely it would involve an information campaign, close collaboration of agencies and community organizations to track statistics, and dedicated funding for the work of providers serving abused women.

What if donors ponied up their cash not just for one “show of force” event, but directed more and increasing dollars every month to direct services to women?

I offer this challenge with deepest concern for the future of women’s lives and influence. Many other battles are yet to be fought. We have no time to applaud our signs, and dither about daily action.

Susan Burgess-Lent, Executive Director

Women’s Centers International

Ladies, Howl You Do It?

Further Support 1

Ok, the underwhelming response  to my posting Howl We Do It suggests that I offer some further guidance on the  fine art of howling.  No time to waste getting started with the Full Moon Sisters (FMS) Movement.

Some of you…well, for A LOT of you, might find even the thought of  full-throated Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 1.16.16 PMhowling terrifying. A normal response for sure.  It’s hella scary.  All the more reason to do it.

STEP 1:  Wrap your mind around the possibilities of making animal sounds.  It’s like learning to sing with a mission. The pain you feel/felt from harassment, mansplaining, and other abuses in your life – recent or past – will motivate.

STEP 2:  Start practicing.  Mark Day one on your calendar.

STEP3:   Work into it.

·      Start with a whimper in the bathroom when no one’s around

·      Move up to a whimper in the bathroom when you know people are around

This is the first milestone.  You need to clue in your housemate(s).  You are doing this as part of a new movement to protest the shit women put up with, to vent the pain and to make a group statement about the changes coming.

OK then!  Give it a go for a week to ten days.

Practice Once Every Day.   10 seconds minimum.

Oh, and get a girlfriend to  practice with you.  Men can join in solidarity.

We’ll work our way into the public auditory space together.  Of course, we’re drawing from the wolves delicious inventory of sounds.  Please share with friends!

Question, comments:  HowlWeDoIt@gmail.com

Stay tuned for the next bits about working your way to a howl.

Advancing Women’s Power – Show Us the Money. 

A survey of 1,000 philanthropists revealed that many donors simply do not know of organizations that devote their efforts to women and girls. Some donors feel the issues facing women and girls are too complex and the remedies too hard to scale up – as if this is an informed assessment of the possibilities.  If we understand how many women live in poverty, we can see that as a measure of extreme need in virtually every area of women’s lives:  education, health, housing, livelihood, and protection from violence.

Women below the poverty level.png

Current national surveys on philanthropic giving do not consider “women’s and girl’s issues” (W&GI) aa a distinct giving category.  Instead, it gets bundled into pre-existing categories such as ‘human services’ –  which get about 12% of charitable dollars each year.

The Women’s Philanthropic Institute found that between 2000 and 2014, 1,226 gifts worth $6.22 billion were directed specifically to W&GI. The figure represents just 1.6 percent of all gifts included in the data.  At the same time, women’s funds and foundations have estimated that only 5 – 7% of all foundation giving is directed specifically to W&GI.

This range – between 1.6% and 7% – is indeed a troubling commentary on the disconnect between donors and the needs of women and girls. Women Moving Million co-chair Jacqueline Zehner believes women donors hold the key to unlocking the potential of women and girl around the world.  I am certain she is right.

My home, the San Francisco Bay area, one of the wealthiest urban areas in the U.S., ranks 45th in charitable giving. We improve this by learning about the work being done to empower the neediest women of our community, and putting serious money into it.

Women’s Centers International has a well tested Model for advancing the skills and power of marginalized women.  It’s an every-day effort to fund the implementation of that Model where it’s needed.  More committed women donors will make the effort exhilarating for all of us.