Tag Archives: women’s movement

Reflections: Spark’s Philanthropic Mentorship Series Launch

Reflections by Spark Member, David Scatterday

It was a distinct pleasure to participate in the inaugural installment of Spark’s Philanthropic Mentorship Series. Worthy of a truly notable launch, we were joined by philanthropic innovators Yann Borgstedt and Antonela Notari Vischer from the Womanity Foundation.

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Auspiciously, everything about the launch event of such a promising series was seamless.

First, a little about our guests: Womanity is an entrepreneurial foundation that thinks creatively to find solutions to today’s women’s empowerment challenges. Key topical areas of action include giving women and girls a voice, advancing education and opportunities, providing fellowships to emerging female social entrepreneurs.  As a man, Womanity’s founder Yann Borgstedt does not fit the traditional model of a woman’s empowerment pioneer. However, Yann understands that solving for women’s issues is a key part of solving every development issue around the globe.

Back to our scene: we were hosted in the headquarters of the Cordes Foundation, whose work is focused on alleviating global poverty and empowering women and girls to fully participate in the development of their communities.

In my mind, the event crystallized everything that is so great about Spark.

First, reinforcing its mission of empowering tomorrow’s philanthropic leaders, the event was custom-designed to engage millennials in real dialogue with real practitioners. Speaking with leading social entrepreneurs in the field triggered valuable dialogue about real solutions to pain points encountered by the aspiring millennial philanthropists and activists in the room.

Second, the event was infused by a deep sense of shared mission. While Spark and Womanity take relatively different approaches to programming and fundraising for women’s issues – it was very evident the two organizations share a deeply held common cause of empowering women around the world. This shared sense of mission added a tangible sense of relevance and urgency to the entire session’s dialogue.

Finally, over several years of involvement with Spark, I’ve realized that solving for women’s issues requires an ‘all-hands’ approach. In our increasingly globalized and resource-constrained world, every pressing social issue is a woman’s issue. Whether climate change, health care access or hunger, women are disproportionately impacted. Bringing about real change will require large-scale collective action – women and men working together to solve truly global problems.  Both Womanity and Spark are organizations that understand this and practice a large-tent approach to addressing social problems every day.

Last week’s mentorship session made me prouder than ever to be an active male, millennial philanthropist and Spark member, confirming that I, and everyone at Spark, are taking the right steps to meaningfully improve the welfare of women in this generation – and the next.

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Talk it out, Brit Love Fest & Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg

Talk it out, Brit Love Fest & Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg . This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

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Roya Mahboob Afghan Citadel Software Co

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg

Roya Mahboob, Afghan tech entrepreneur, is shattering the concrete ceiling. Her company, Afghan Citadel Software Co., has become the foundation for social change. In a country, where women’s literacy hovers at 15%, this business leader is using her acumen to change the state of education in her country. You can see why Time Magazine calls her one of their 100 Most Influential People.

Read The Full Story

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POLITICS: Love is legal in England and Wales

The royal baby isn’t the only thing to celebrate. Same-sex couples will be able to get married in England and Wales after a new measure became law. Tally Ho!

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U.S NEWS:  Violation of women’s rights within prison walls

Shockingly, 150 female inmates were sterilized in California prisons between 2006 to 2010. Hundreds more have been sterilized since 2000. This outrageous act is an unwanted reminder of the 70’s brutally forced sterilizations.

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POLITICS: Q: What do Boris Johnson and the Princeton Mom have in common?

A: Both are sexist and ridiculous. First, the Princeton Mom pens an open letter about the importance of finding a husband during college, then, Boris Johnson makes the same irresponsible suggestion. Boris and the Princeton mom should be sent to the Principle’s office to think about their comments.

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GLOBAL:  Communication Never Gets Old

Let’s talk it out. In deeply rooted cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), change making is difficult. When determined to do something about the widespread problem, a pro-women group in an Ethiopian village made remarkable achievements. Read about how their strategy of  “community conversations” led to effectively ending female genital cutting in their home village.

 Read the full story 

Celebrating Women’s History Month. Spark’s News Digest

The Day, Month, and Year of Women: Spark’s News Digest

Read, Discuss and Share.

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“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” – Gloria Steinem

Celebrate International Women's Day

March – Women’s History Month – is a our favorite time of year. It’s a time to reflect, celebrate, and move.

Over the past century, we have seen great strides in the advancement of women’s human rights.  Women are chefs and CEOs, educators and engineers, Prime Ministers and mothers. Women have more choices than ever before.  While there is still work to be done to close the equality gap, this news digest is dedicated to our movement leaders. Thank you for getting us this far. We are ready to work with you to carry us the distance.

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UNITED STATES: House Passes Violence Agaisnt Women Act 

The House approved the expanded Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act last week. Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the Act provides support for organizations that serve survivors of domestic violence. The new version increases protections of particular at-risk groups — Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.

Read the full story

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GLOBAL: Join Spark in asking the UN to End Rape Now

As tens of thousands took to the streets across India to express outrage over the brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old student in Delhi, smaller protests were held in Ohio to condemn the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl, allegedly by members of small town’s beloved high school football players. Millions of women are not safe in their homes, on the streets, or the workplace. We must speak out.

Spark’s partner The Global Fund for Women along with partners in India, and activists around the globe are demanding the United Nations pressure world leaders to make ending sexual violence a top priority. Join us.

Sign the petition

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MEDIA: Makers: Women Who Make America

Did you know the single greatest impact of Title 9 is not on sports fields but in our medical and law school classrooms? We didn’t until we watched Makers. This documentary shares the story of the most sweeping social revolution in American history. Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, and Oprah Winfrey share their memories, as do countless women who challenged the status quo in industries from coal-mining to Congress. Makers captures the memories and emotion of a movement that changed America forever. 

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INTERNATIONAL: Afghanistan’s First Female Mayor Proves Critics Wrong

The first female mayor of Nili, Azra Jafari, has been nicknamed “Mr. Mayor” by her community. At the start of her term, she received threats from a high powered mullah who later thanked her for all the work she’d done for the community.  This nickname is a sign of respect. As Afghanistan’s first and only women mayor, Jafari is determined to continue changing attitudes towards women while improving the quality of life for all in Nili.

Read the full story

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP: A Titan’s How To On Breaking The Glass Ceiling

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is launching a book called “Lean In,” about women finding themselves at work. In her book, Sandberg argues that women are sabotaging themselves in the workplace; “we hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” she writes, and the result is that “men still run the world.” She hopes the book will spur the creation of “Lean In” conscious-raising groups where women use self-awareness exercises to increase their confidence in the workplace.

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In solidarity we trust. Spark News Digest

Maternal Mortality in Malawi & Texas,  Tabloids & the Men who Write Them, and a Flash Mob for LOVE. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

An event organized as part of the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign in New Delhi on Thursday.

GLOBAL: The ‘One Billion Rising’ on the Streets of Delhi

In almost 200 countries around the world, people took to the streets on Valentine’s Day to rise and dance. These flash mobs are part of One Billion Rising, a campaign initiated by Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” to end violence against women. The mob message resonated in India which is still reeling from a highly publicized gang rape. Hundreds of men and women took the streets of Delhi to demand a JUST love grounded in equality for all.

Delhi Rising Promotional Video:

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GLOBAL: Searching for Gender Equality

A new study found that mobilizing grassroots women’s groups may have the most long-term impact on policies to eradicate violence against women around the world.

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GLOBAL: Boys: The Trouble with Female Celebrity Profiles and the Men Who Write Them.

The sex, the fantasy, the minimization, the disillusionment. This opinion piece illustrates the inherent sexism male writers continue to use to portray female celebrities in glossy magazines.

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GLOBAL: Malawi’s Leader Makes Safe Childbirth Her Mission

In Malawi, 1 out of 36 women are at risk for maternal mortality. The country’s new president, Joyce Banda,  is out to change that horrifying ratio. Banda has a plan to sensitize Malawi’s 20,000 village chiefs, the country’s power brokers, to the dangers of childbirth, while still respecting tribal traditions.

Read the full story 

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NATIONAL: Pregnant? Watch Your Risks In Great Texas State

When one think’s of maternal mortality rates, Texas is not the first place that comes to mind. No place in the US should be the first place that comes to mind. However, Gov. Perry’s budget cutting support for Texas’s women’s health services coincides with a shocking increase in maternal mortality rate in the Lone Star state.

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Closing the Gap: Spark News Digest

An internet gender gap, gender wage gap, human right’s gap and a cabinate- appointment diversity gap. Spark news digest is here to help fill in the gap, plus discussion on a new approach to film making.

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Women wearing colourful Saris Rajasthan India Photo: ALAMY

Women wearing colourful Saris Rajasthan India Photo: ALAMY

GLOBAL: Fifth of women in India and Egypt think internet use is ‘inappropriate’

Can you imagine feeling guilty and ashamed by your family for connecting to the digital world? A new Intel report stated that one in five women in Egypt and India feel the internet is not appropriate for them to use, increasing an internet gender gap.  However, if these women were empowered to connect, they could move mountains. It is estimated that the transformative power of the web in business and educational opportunities for women could increase GDP by billions in 144 developing countries.

Read the full story 

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LOCAL: Equal Education, Unequal Pay. The Gender Wage Gap in the USA

This beautifully designed infographic illustrates that while women are paying the same for tuition, doing equally as good or even better than their male counterparts in college, the gender wage gap post graduation is still very present in the good ‘ol USA. Similar to the internet gender gap, if women’s salaries matched men’s, the GDP would increase by billions of dollars. That’s the kind of math that really adds up.

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GLOBAL: North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses Have ‘No Parallel’

While the attention on North Korea recently has been on stopping their development of nuclear weapons and missiles, human abuses have been overlooked. Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Right stated that  “torture, summary executions, rape, slave labor, and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity” are affecting almost the entire population of North Korea, in and out of prison camps.

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LOCAL: Obama’s Women Problem Is a Problem of His Own Making

A debate has been sparked by the lack of women appointments, to date, in Obama’s second-term cabinate. Given the criticism the President has received around roles of senior women within his circle, let’s see what’s to come.

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FILM: A New Approach to Making Films That Matter

Films are one of the most powerful mediums of our time. The number of documentary films have grown rapidly within the last few years while funding has increased at a pace less than half the rate of production. Funders want to understand the investment’s social impact in a more direct way. To help, social scientists are looking at ways of compiling data to understand how the framing of social issues spreads within social networks and potentially shifts public discourse. While this approach is new, it has the potential to give film makers and funders the data necessary to create stories that influence, educate and engage the intended audience.

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Spark News Digest

Spark is a learning community. We learn by doing and educate our peers on issues impacting women around the world. Practicing what we preach, we will be posting relevant news articles for your mind-expanding pleasure. Read, learn, discuss, share.

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An Acehnese woman straddles on a motorbike in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. / AP

An Acehnese woman straddles on a motorbike in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. / AP

GLOBAL: Women’s Rights Hit Roadblock in Indonesia

In Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province, women are being shunned for being…women. The Islamist government has voiced that because of the “curves of a women’s body,” female passengers cannot straddle motorbikes as it’s too alluring. Religious-based regulations like this are happening in many regions in the world and in some places, getting worse.

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LOCAL: We must reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

It happened. Congress failed to reissue the Violence Against Women Act before it expired last year. Congresswomen Glen Moore talks about the disappointment of  letting a bill as important as this fall to the wayside and the less-than-urgent  timing Congress has used to reauthorize it.

Read the full story and watch the video

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GLOBAL: The Internationalization of Women Issues

“Women issues are world issues,” Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of U.N. Women and former president of Chile, said recently. “Today there is greater awareness than ever before that women’s full participation is essential for peace, democracy and sustainable development.” The globalization of women’s issues continues to be on the rise. Hopefully, this will continue to penetrate into leadership positions and change the landscape of decision making around the world.

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GLOBAL: Lawyer in India Gang-Rape Case says Victim to Blame

The latest in the India gang-rape case shares the point of view of one of the lawyers defending the three men who are charged with the rape and murder of a 23-year-old women riding a bus in New Delhi at night. He states that “until today, I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady…even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.” Will the international lens on this case force India to strengthen its laws on rape and protection of women?

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LOCAL: What Linda Lovelace’s Story Does and Doesn’t Say about Porn Today

Linda Lovelace’s story is about to hit Sundance with Lovelace, played by Amanda Seyfried. The film has potential to kickstart some serious conversations about rape culture and sexual consent. The question remains, will the conversation help or hinder a new understanding about women and sexual consent?

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Sparking the Next Generation of Leadership in the Women’s Movement – What Does the F Word Mean to You?

By KATHLEEN KELLY JANUS, Spark Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member

Six years ago, I was involved in co-founding Spark.  As so many women’s organizations before us, we started as six women in our mid-twenties sitting around a dining room table.  We were looking for a way to get our peers involved in global women’s issues. Six years later, Spark has raised over $1.2 million for grassroots women’s organizations and has a membership base of over 5,000 young people committed to supporting women all over the world inspiring positive change in their communities. Beyond defying the meaning of what it is to be a philanthropist, with most of our donors contributing at the $50 to $100 level, we quickly realized that we were also redefining what it meant to be a supporter of the women’s movement. For example, 50% of our members are men, which is unheard of for a women’s organization. Our organizing happens online as opposed to in the streets. And perhaps most shockingly, some of our members would not consider themselves “feminists,” either because the term connotes historical power dynamics, with which they do not want to be associated or because they feel the term is limited we have moved beyond feminist framing. But as an organization we make a conscious effort to be inclusive, as opposed to excluding members on that basis.

As an organization made up of young women leaders, we also realized that we were only one of a few organizations focused on cultivating the next generation of leadership in the women’s movement. And with a number of transitions happening in leadership positions in major women’s organizations around the country, it has become clear that there is a thin (or at least perceived to be thin) pipeline of younger women leaders in the movement. We began to ask questions about what leadership will look like in the next phase of the women’s movement: What are the goals of the women’s movement and what is the language that we are using to describe these goals?  Are there conflicting objectives amongst different generations of feminist leaders?  And how do we create a base that makes space for multiple generations with diverse ethnic, socioeconomic and gendered representation?

These questions were the impetus behind our panel discussion at Stanford last Thursday night, featuring panelists Miranda Mammen (Women’s Glib), Shannon Farley (Spark), Vanessa Daniel (Groundswell Fund), Helen Kim (Building Movement Project), Kim Meredith (Stanford PACS) and Linda Burnham (National Domestic Workers Alliance).  Our hope is that by initiating an intergenerational conversation around the issue of leadership in the women’s movement, we can understand what the next generation of leadership will look like so that we can create a stronger push toward gender equality over the next several decades.

So what do you think?  What does the F Word mean to you?  And how can we sow the seeds for a more robust leadership structure in the next phase of the women’s movement?