Grantee & Partner News

March 20, 2019

Women, War & Peace II

Grantee News From Peace is Loud:



The premiere of ​Women, War & Peace II ​on PBS!

This Women’s History Month, share ​four remarkable stories of brave women facing tremendous obstacles to pursue peace and significant political change in Northern Ireland, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Palestine. These films resonate more than ever, as ​Afghan women are being sidelined in the U.S. talks with the Taliban, and the March 29th Brexit date quickly approaches, bringing the historic Good Friday Agreement under threat in Northern Ireland.

Women, War & Peace II Airdates

March 25

  • ●  Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs 9pm est | 8pm c
  • ●  The Trials of Spring 10pm est | 9pm cMarch 26
  • ●  Naila and the Uprising 9pm est | 8pm c
  • ●  A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers 10pm est | 9pm c
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February 28, 2019

Gender-Lens Investing Strategies for 2019

News From our Treasurer, Emilie Cortes:

Photo by Yacobchuk/iStock

Four strategies that can help fuel the momentum behind investing in organizations, products, and services that benefit women.

After a decades-long outcry for data proving that gender-smart investing makes financial sense, today reams of evidence show that including women in government leads to more stable societies, educating women creates stronger communities, including women on company boards leads to better organizational performance, and access to contraceptives contributes to a stable economy.

Once viewed as a niche strategy, gender-lens investments are emerging as an important source of funding for organizations, products, and services that benefit women. According to Wharton Social Impact Initiative’s Project Sage—a landscape analysis of structured private equity, venture capital, and private debt vehicles—total capital with a gender lens cleared $2.2 billion in 2018 and is increasing. Investors are structuring portfolios and leadership teams to include the still-underserved half of the human population, and discovering that their actions are generating results beyond the bottom line.

But while gender-lens investing has enormous momentum, there is more work to do, especially in structuring organizational leadership to include all women. Here are four major themes that should be at the front of gender-lens investors’ minds in 2019.

1. The Time Is Now

According to the latest report by the gender-lens investment accelerator Catalyst at Large and investment advisor Veris Wealth Partners, assets under management with a gender-lens mandate grew 85 percent in the 12 months prior to July 2018, as global investors added more than $1 billion to a range of gender-smart strategies. Meanwhile, our impact investor network, Toniic, updated a T100 study of 100-percent impact portfolios and found that across 76 private portfolios, about $38 million was invested with gender lens as the primary criteria.

However, these amounts are a drop in the bucket of the overall financial system, and there remain investable opportunities across sectors, asset classes, and focus areas, including women-inclusive corporate policies, women’s leadership and capital, and products and services for women.

Ruth Shaber, a Toniic member and T100 study participant, embodies the “go for it” approach to gender-lens investing that more impact investors should embrace. Shaber is not just dipping her toe in the water; since she founded the Tara Health Foundation in 2014, she has committed 100 percent of its portfolio to identifying and supporting solutions for women’s health. The foundation actively seeks out opportunities to provide healthcare and reproductive care for women in the United States and abroad. Among its investments is Cadence Health, a startup that aims to make low-cost birth control pills available over the counter.

2. Impact Investing Is Intersectional

As gender-smart investing expands, we must make sure that the investing world’s growing focus on women does not leave behind women of color. For example, women and people of color receive only 0.2 percent of venture funding, according to a new report by #ProjectDiane. If we’re not conscious of this imbalance and the biases that have created it, we will continue to lock many people out of opportunities. We’ll also limit potential returns: A McKinsey study of more than 1,000 companies in 12 countries found that those in the bottom quartile for gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity were three times less likely to generate profits above the industry average.

A great example of innovation in this area is the female-led investment advisory firm Chordata Capital, created by Tiffany Brown and Kate Poole. Chordata Capital partners with inheritors and wealth holders to design and invest in portfolios that include an explicit commitment to racial, gender, and economic justice. Chordata helps investors direct capital toward businesses and communities led by women and people of color—for example, toward investments in credit unions or reparations loan funds in the southern United States.

3. Account for Gender in All Decision-Making

To make the systemic changes we need to achieve gender equality, investors and other stakeholders must ensure that women are included in every stage of organizational decision-making. While a company may have a women’s committee or task force, for example, women’s voices won’t get heard if they are talking about issues only among themselves. And while an angel investor may fund a new technology intended to help women track their health, an all-male development team may not realize it’s impractical for women to use. Overlaying impact at the corporate level ensures that both a company’s products and its leadership team create opportunities for women to thrive.

In fact, putting women at the helm of companies is good for business overall. Catalyst at Large compiled a trove of data showing that companies with women who have a seat at the table show improved financial performance. Credit Suisse found that companies where women hold 25 percent of decision-making roles generate 4 percent higher cash flow than the overall MSCI All Country World Index, which benchmarks equity-market performance around the world. Companies where women represent half of senior management produce 10 percent higher cash flows.

A look at impact investments made under UN Sustainable Development Goal 5, gender equality, taken from Toniic’s T100 Powered Ascent study of impact portfolios. (Image courtesy of Toniic Network)

The good news is that money is flowing into companies that support women’s leadership. The Toniic study mentioned above looked at investments that correspond with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most of the investments under SDG 5—gender equality—were in “women-inclusive corporate policies,” or investments in companies that focus on correcting gender wage inequality and unlocking the potential of female workers. All respondents expect these companies to yield commercial, market-rate returns. Investments in women’s leadership and capital came second, where investors build strategies around the expectation that women-led private companies deliver better financial results while improving gender equality.

4. Data Is Nothing Without Action

Despite all the data showing its potential, gender-lens investing is usually a side session at investing and social impact conferences—and the attendees are mostly women. For data to make a difference, everyone with investment power has to digest it and act on it.

Impact investor Suzanne Biegel—another Toniic member, and founder of both Project Sage and Catalyst at Large—hoped to nudge progress by creating the first Gender Smart Investing Summit in November 2018. The gathering brought together 300 investors from 42 countries, representing $42 trillion in assets. Participants included foundations, corporate giants like UBS and BNY Mellon, fund managers, government representatives, social leaders, and people focused on systems change—and many of these groups took action. For example, the Criterion Institute raised $7 billion in investments that address gender-based violence from delegates at the summit, contributing to its goal of raising $1 trillion. And the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which has committed $1 billion to invest in women in emerging markets, announced that it is applying a gender lens across its whole portfolio.

Toniic has also committed to putting gender-lens investing and racial justice center stage. Last year, we took a “no manel pledge,” promising to actively seek female speakers and avoid all-male panels at every event we organize, including at member events and conferences like SOCAP. Further, at the Compton Foundation, where I serve as treasurer, the investment committee has formally adopted an initiative to include a gender and racial justice lens across our existing portfolio and all new investments. We will also steer more grants and investments toward supporting women’s leadership.

Investing in women is not a risk—it’s an enormous opportunity to make change and enhance the well-being of half of the global community. While more capital and data are coalescing around gender-lens impact investing, there’s no need to wait for a “perfect moment” to be a part of it. The time is now, investors are already seeing the impact, and every action we take fuels momentum.

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February 14, 2019

Peace and Security Philanthropy Isn’t Just About Conflict; It’s Also Key to Curbing Climate Change

Grantee News From: Peace and Security Funders Group

Iconic images of World War II Europe and Japan, of Vietnam after Operation Ranch Hand, and of post-ISIS Mosul show total destruction of lives, communities, and ecosystems. They are also a reminder to philanthropists that investing in peace and security requires a focus on the environment.

Humans are inextricably linked to our environment, and we depend on clean air, water, and soil to survive. Delicate ecosystems support food chains that humans need, so it matters if certain species of plants and animals are depleted in the course of a conflict. In fact, every November, the United Nations recognizes an “International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict,” deliberately linking the two.

As former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described it, “the environment has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflict.” There have even been calls by some to declare “ecocide” — the mass destruction of ecosystems — an international crime, alongside genocide and crimes against humanity.

Yet foundation funding for climate security — examining the relationship between climate, natural-resource management, and conflict — was just 5 percent of all peace and security funding in most recent calculations. Philanthropy focused on promoting peace, security, and human rights must take stock of how conflict plays out in the natural environment. And it must consider how our changing climate will affect each and every grant-making area — nuclear security, refugee resettlement, women’s rights, and more — in the coming years. Here are three considerations for philanthropy:

Environmental destruction is exacerbated by conflict.

Stress on ecosystems and natural resources can be caused by population flows and refugee camps established in places without the necessary infrastructure. Last year, the U.N. and Bangladesh’s Ministry of Environment and Forests studied the impact of refugees in makeshift camps after 700,000 Rohingya fled from sectarian violence in Myanmar to Bangladesh. The study concluded that there is major environmental impact, such as ground-water depletion, contamination from latrines, and deforestation because of firewood extraction.

In addition, environmental degradation as a result of militarism exposes an unequal view of human value. Take, for example, uranium mining, nuclear fallout, and radioactive contamination from atmos­pheric and underground nuclear testing. These practices disproportionately affect those who had no say in nuclear policy, such as the indigenous residents of the Marshall Islands, Australia, and the American West, especially on Native American land.

Environmental damage isn’t simply collateral.

The United Nations Environment Program has indicated that in the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all intrastate conflicts have a link to natural resources and that this link doubles the risk of a conflict relapse in the first five years after the end of a conflict.

In other words, conflict and environmental exploitation are a feedback loop. Armed groups exploit the environment to gather resources for their wars, including through deforestation, diverting water (or forcing flooding to create blockades), “scorched earth” tactics of setting fire to oil fields, and toxic and exploitive methods for mineral extraction. In turn, scarcity of resources creates unstable environments of competition and can cause mass migration, further fueling instability.

Deliberate destruction of the environment is a tool of war. Although destroying the environment of one’s enemies is as old as warfare itself, this tactic pricked the public conscience when the U.S. military used Agent Orange and other herbicides to deliberately destroy hardwood forests and mangroves in the Vietnam War. This damaged the Vietnamese ecosystem and communities that depended on it for years afterward, to say nothing of the destructive health effects on humans, including military service members. Foundations like Chino Cienega have supported reforestation programs that not only helped restore the local ecosystem but also provided residents a source of income and a “green fence” to keep livestock and villagers away from highly toxic “hot spots” created by leftover military ordnance.

Climate change can accelerate environmental instability and resource scarcity, leading to greater conflict.

Beyond environmental degradation, climate change is a threat multiplier, says the U.N. The Pentagon agrees. As former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated in 2014, “The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere. Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline and trigger waves of mass migration.” Ignoring this warning is to bury our heads in the sand and hope that the storms and wars don’t come for us. Foundations like the David Rockefeller Fund and the Stanley Foundation have been working to move climate security beyond politics and instead promote collective solutions to this very real global problem.

Foundations and philanthropists can help stop these trends, but only if they act now, and act differently.

First, philanthropists should adopt an “environment-sensitive” approach when crafting strategies, especially as they seek to invest in peace, security, and human rights. Taking an environment-sensitive approach means taking stock of how natural resources are used to fuel conflicts or how communities depend on natural resources to live securely. Philanthropists can also assess how investment in ecological infrastructure — such as replanting trees and promoting alternative, community-managed energy infrastructure, such as solar power — will multiply the work of locally led efforts to build peace.

Second, foundations can look at and restructure their endowments. Caitlin Stanton, former director of partnerships at Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, suggests “divesting from drivers of climate change and reinvesting in greener energy solutions and green jobs. After all, if, say, a funder is giving grants for children but has their endowment all tied up in fossil fuels, they may be doing more to hazard the future of those children than they are doing to support them.”

The movement for Divest/Invest Philanthropy began a few years ago with an assessment of the harm of fossil-fuel investments in endowment portfolios, both for the planet and for people. As Ellen Friedman, executive director of the Compton Foundation, has noted, not only do endowments without fossil-fuel holdings perform the same as (if not better than) traditional asset mixes, but they allow foundations to go all-in with grant making and investments to make breakthroughs we need on issues of peace, security, human rights, and justice.

Environmental destruction is a collective crisis, made exponentially worse by conflict. Foundations and philanthropists who want to see progress on peace, security, justice, and human rights must take stock of how this destruction will continue to affect humans — soldiers and civilians alike — long after the bullets have stopped.

By Cath Thompson 

Cath Thompson is a program director at the Peace and Security Funders Group.

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January 31, 2019

Seeking Peace Stories of Women and War

Grantee News From Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security:

Seeking Peace is a new podcast that explores the roles of women in war and peace. Women are not just victims of conflict. They are leaders, and often unsung heroes. We bring you their stories. This podcast is a production of Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security. Listen and subscribe on iTunes/Apple Podcast AppStitcherSpotify or Google Play. The show explores women’s roles in conflict. It includes interviews with celebrities and global leaders – beginning with Kristen Bell and Hillary Clinton – as well as stories from women on the frontlines. It’s hosted by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, produced by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and…made possible by the Compton Foundation.

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January 30, 2019

Announcing a New California Funder Collaborative to Advance Gender Justice

Partner News From the Women’s Foundation of California:

Politics is where some of the people are some of the time. Culture is where most of the people are most of the time.”[i]

If 2018 was the year of the woman in politics, 2019 will be the year we seize on that momentum to accelerate gender justice[i] by shifting culture.

There is no question that #MeToo, #TimesUp, and Women’s Marches have echoed across social media, headlines and the red carpet.  The movement has already made change, as terms like “survivors” and “intersectionality” enter broader discussion. And yet, despite this visibility and some policy gains, gender-based violence and discrimination remain in the fabric of modern society.

The new docu-series, “Surviving  R. Kelly” is a powerful vehicle to lift up awareness about the ways this happens in our society. Much like the Harvey Weinstein incidents, it is sparking new and important dialogue well beyond the music industry, drawing insightful reflection on the higher impact and consequences for black women and other women of color.

In California we have the political, cultural, and movement leadership to take a bold new approach to advancing gender justice.  Beyond that, we can move to create the kinds of aspirational narratives that change perception about who we are and counter harmful narratives that were created to justify inequity, mistreatment, and dehumanization.

Since 2017, funders investing in gender justice led by the Women’s Foundation of California, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, and Fondation CHANEL in partnership with Philanthropy California have been coordinating our efforts to advance gender justice in California. A year ago, in January 2018, 55 funders and movement leaders gathered in San Francisco to seize the moment for philanthropy to step up in bolder ways to advance gender justice.

We agreed that we needed to focus on narrative change to accelerate our efforts to advance gender justice, and provide support to the powerful movement work already underway.

This past December, many of us gathered again to explore collaborative work on a culture change strategy. We were joined by the Compton Foundation, the Libra Foundation, the Packard Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, Tara Health Foundation, and Native Americans in Philanthropy all of whom are committed to moving forward together as a coordinated group of funders investing in a range of gender justice issues with an interest in exploring culture as a lever for change.

To seize on that momentum, in 2019 we will do two things:

  1. Launch a collaborative fund in California to coordinate investments in narrative and cultural strategy for gender, racial, and economic justice.
  2. Launch the California Gender Justice Funder Collaborative working group housed at Philanthropy California—the first ever philanthropic working group focused on gender justice in California. The Gender Justice Funder Collaborative will be a place to share research, tools, best practices and policies as well as coordinate and develop multiple opportunities for collaboration.

Our coordinated efforts will create partnerships among socially conscious artists, advocacy groups, organizers, and funders to turn isolated campaign wins into transformative social change. Working collaboratively as funders, we plan to do together what is difficult to do on our own. As a group, we can maximize resources, impact, effectiveness, new ideas, and creativity.

We have a timely opportunity to advance gender justice. Our work in California has the potential to influence the nation. The philanthropic community has made great strides to include a race and class analysis in our research and grantmaking, and the time has come to elevate gender into our analyses. To move beyond what is, to what can be. If we are to truly achieve transformative systems change, using an intersectional approach that includes gender along with race and class in all aspects of our work will be key to transforming culture towards justice, liberation, and our nation’s fundamental value that all people are created equal.

Surina Khan is CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California

Lucia Corral Peña is Senior Program Officer with Blue Shield of California Foundation 

Questions on how to get involved?

Contact Surina Khan at for more information.

[i] Making Waves: A Guide to Cultural Strategy (The Culture Group, 2014)

[ii] Gender justice is the systemic fair treatment of people of all genders as well as equitable opportunities and outcomes for all and recognizes that those directly impacted by gender-based oppression include transgender and cisgender women, genderqueer and non-binary people, and transgender men. Gender justice is intersectional and includes economic justice, criminal justice, community health, racial justice, education justice, environmental justice, reproductive justice and immigrant rights.

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January 9, 2019

Organizing in Trump Country with George Goehl

November 1, 2018


September 25, 2018

One Small Step for Feminist Foreign Policy

August 7, 2018

Forty-One Minutes to Save The World: Investing in Nuclear Security

Women’s voices are still lacking in foreign policy op-eds