The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the systemic inequalities women face every day in countries around the world, threatening their safety, health, and opportunity. The data is sobering. While women held 39 percent of the world’s jobs before the pandemic struck, they represent 54 percent of its losses, making women’s jobs almost twice as insecure as men’s. Alongside this rising economic insecurity, women are shouldering the increased burden of caregiving responsibilities. They have experienced an unprecedented surge in violence, in some countries up to 300 percent. Combined, these reversals mean we are currently living through the biggest crisis for women in our collective memory.
The status quo is no longer acceptable. We can and must do better. Today less than 2 percent of philanthropic dollars, or $7 billion out of $432 billion in the United States, goes to women and girls. A gender responsive recovery will require more money to flow to the organizations and leaders who are on the frontlines of the movement. Imagine what could be accomplished with double, triple, or ten times these resources. It’s here that women’s philanthropy can make an impact.
Women currently control $72 trillion of wealth, the greatest amount in history. This unprecedented affluence presents an unprecedented opportunity. We are seeing women philanthropists step up to lead in big and bold ways, harnessing the potential of this new power. They are strategically challenging the longstanding power structures that have led to chronic systemic oppression, exploitation, and marginalization, which have left women so vulnerable to the economic shock caused by the pandemic.
While the headlines capture the extraordinary contributions of philanthropists like Melinda Gates, MacKenzie Scott, and Laurene Powell Jobs, a growing number of women philanthropists are changing the landscape out of the media spotlight. As leaders of feminist funds and members of organizations like Women Moving Millions, which I am privileged to lead, women are driving today’s conversation around how philanthropy needs to build a new vision for how funds are distributed and to whom.
At Women Moving Millions, we are modeling a new approach to philanthropy: one rooted in learning, listening, humility, and trust. As a community of committed, purpose-driven women, we understand the power of working together to leverage our collective strength, networks, and voice for the cause of gender equality. We have made it our mission to bring others along with us by breaking down silos and connecting with change makers across sectors to spark powerful collaborations and build strong partnerships. We understand that shifting power is not enough; investing in building the power of historically marginalized communities is what is needed for real transformation to take root.
The path to delivering on the promise of a more just and equal world will take this type of collective re-imagination and understanding. The time is now to harness the full power and potential of women’s philanthropy to be a positive force for change. At Women Moving Millions, we are a case study in the combined power of women exercising their leadership and mobilizing resources to realize change, catalyzing nearly $1 billion to date. As our co-founder, Swanee Hunt noted, “When serious women support serious issues with serious money, that’s serious change.”