Grantee & Partner News
January 9, 2019
Organizing in Trump Country with George Goehl
How can Democrats win in deep red America? During the midterms, momentum behind progressive candidates in red states garnered national attention – Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Andrew Gillum in Florida, and Stacey Abrams in Georgia. These were no overnight successes. They were the culmination of, among many things, the tireless efforts of grass roots organizers. Organizers like George Goehl, Director of People’s Action, who is focusing his efforts on white rural America. Hear how his own story of poverty and addiction helped inform how he works to build across race and place in order to lay the groundwork for radical change.
November 1, 2018
BEI BEI at DOCNYC
News from Incite Pictures – Cine Qua Non:
The documentary BEI BEI will have it’s NYC Festival Premiere at DOC NYC on November 12, Monday at 5 pm and November 13, Tuesday at 10:15 am in New York City. For info & tickets.
DOCNYC “Fight the Power Program describes BEI BEI as a High-stakes legal drama focuses on Bei Bei Shuai, a depressed, pregnant Chinese immigrant put on trial for the murder of her unborn child after attempting suicide. The case captivates the nation, and in particular the state of Indiana, where laws have set an under-reported legal precedent for women who terminate their pregnancies, whether intentionally or not. Bei Bei’s story shines a chilling light on the encroachment of women’s rights and the confluence of religious belief and medical practice.
Following the screening, we’ll be joined by Bei Bei Shuai and Linda Pence, coming in from Indianapolis, and Activists Lynn Paltrow and Miriam Yeung, who are working with us to launch the film.
After the screening, please join us at a party at Westbeth, 55 Bethune St., NYC Please R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The evening marks the film’s debut on the world stage and will be followed screenings at festivals in the U.S., in China, Korea and other international venues.
If you’re in town, we hope you’ll join us to celebrate this catalytic moment. If you plan to attend, do purchase tickets early as they are going swiftly. Please also feel free pass this invitation on to friends, colleagues and others in your community who may be interested in the film.
September 25, 2018
One Small Step for Feminist Foreign Policy
On Sept. 21 and 22, Canada will host the first-ever meeting of female foreign ministers, as part of a package of commitments it made to prioritize women’s issues under its G-7 presidency this year. Currently, about 30 women lead their countries’ diplomacy, including eight in Europe, 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean, five in Africa, and others in Asia, Australia, and the region.
The Montreal meeting will be historically unprecedented in its display of female power on the world stage. But symbolic achievements shouldn’t suffice. It would be a tragedy not to use the opportunity to focus attention on concrete ways to improve women’s status globally and advance what has been called a “feminist foreign policy.”
The Canadian government seems to agree. “This meeting is an historic opportunity to have a range of discussions amongst women foreign ministers,” said Marie-Pier Baril, a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, “including such topics as international security, reinforcing democracy, diversity, and combating sexual and gender-based violence. It is important to bring these voices together.”
The concept of a feminist foreign policy was first popularized in 2014 by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who will be in attendance this weekend. Wallstrom has described a feminist foreign policy as “standing against the systematic and global subordination of women” and a “precondition” for achieving Sweden’s wider foreign development and security policy objectives. Gender equality is a right on its own, she argues, and is also the most effective means for achieving other goals, such as the eradication of terrorism, economic growth, and improvement in health.
Reactions to Wallstrom’s ideas have ranged from giggling to outright hostility. Numerous Canadian officials—including outspoken, self-proclaimed feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—have spoken about the backlash they have encountered in launching policies with the word “feminist” attached to them. Nonetheless, pieces of this idea have been adopted over the years by countries around the world, including in the United States. Australia’s first female foreign minister, Julie Bishop, spoke openly about making gender equality central to global peace and security. And the United Kingdom’s former foreign secretary, William Hague, made ending rape in war a priority of his policy platform during the country’s G-7 presidency.
In the United States, the Obama administration never pursued a feminist foreign policy under a single institutional umbrella. But the State Department, under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, did craft a collection of issue-specific foreign policies on various gender issues, including a U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally; a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (which dozens of other countries had also adopted well in advance of the United States); and a Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls.
These were groundbreaking for the United States at the time but still fell short of Sweden’s full embrace of the concept. That’s consistent with the pattern elsewhere. Most countries that talk about a feminist foreign policy aren’t really implementing it; they’re simply adding aid programs for women. A truly feminist foreign policy would have to be more ambitious; either it must enshrine women’s rights across the government or it’s not deserving of the name. As Wallstrom has written, including in a recently released a handbook on the concept, such policies must aim to allocate sufficient resources to achieve gender equality, and they must disrupt male-dominated power structures, from the tables of diplomacy to the design of foreign assistance programs.
This weekend presents an opportunity to hone, define, and refine the idea of a feminist foreign policy and articulate feminist foreign-policy goals that governments everywhere can strive toward. “So much progress has been made [in Canada] with the Feminist International Assistance Policy, the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, as well as the gender focus in their progressive trade agenda and the new defense policy,” said Diana Sarosi of Oxfam Canada. “We now need to bring it all together in a feminist foreign policy to ensure coherence in all components of Canada’s foreign actions, including arms sales.” That should be the model not just in Canada but everywhere.
Accomplishing these goals will require a clear-eyed view of the policies that have been developed to date and the challenges they have faced. The first critique regards scope: Does a policy only address so-called “woman’s issues,” such as wartime rape, or does it seek to advance equity across all relevant social divisions—gender (including gender identity and orientation), age (including adolescent girls as well as aging women, young gay men as well as women of reproductive age), race and ethnicity, and other facets of identity? A further, and equally critical, scope question concerns whether all facets of a country’s foreign policy, ranging from aid to trade to development, have been involved.
Scope also relates to budget. This is perhaps the most fundamental issue in today’s context of shrinking foreign aid budgets, which severely threaten a government’s ability to achieve transformational change. Canada is a good example. The country made headlines last summer with its announcement that within five years, 95 percent of its aid initiatives would be dedicated to advancing gender equality. But the fine print reveals that the primary aim of these aid projects would not necessarily be to advance gender equality but rather merely to affect it in some way. Furthermore, this is a larger percentage of a shrinking pie: Critics point out that Canada’s budgets for official development assistance, while slightly larger since 2016, are still hovering around a 50-year low in real terms.
This isn’t a problem unique to Canada. In the United States last year, the Trump administration cut many programs for women, including $350 million from reproductive health. The administration has also neglected to staff the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department and proposed numerous approaches to gut foreign assistance architecture and budgets. Among the G-7, only the U.K. reached the international goal of 0.7 percent of spending on foreign assistance last year, and data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicate that despite growing commitments to spending foreign assistance dollars on gender equality, the percentage of projects whose principle aim is advancing gender equality or women’s rights is persistently lagging, up to only 4 percent last year.
Finally, there is the issue of rights. At stake here is whether foreign policies include the complete body of women’s rights—including the more politicized components, such as family planning and access to abortion, that have become the most embroiled battleground in today’s diplomatic discussions, from the United Nations to the G-7.
For example, in the G-7 meetings this year, U.S. representatives refused to accept any discussion of “sexual and reproductive health and rights”—a body of rights that had been officially recognized in the latter years of the Obama administration and which includes the right to access contraception and abortion, the right not to be raped, and the rights of LGBTQ people to live free of violence and discrimination. This year, the Trump administration stripped all reference to these rights from the State Department’s Human Rights Reports, an essential source of information for reporting on abuses and holding abusive governments to account not only in U.S. diplomacy but for various other governments around the world and also for businesses assessing where to invest operations abroad.
The United States has also torpedoed similar language in U.N. resolutions. This should be no surprise: Under the Trump administration, any foreign policy that relates to women is led largely by ideologues who have counseled abstinence-only health education and conditioned billions of dollars of U.S. health assistance on providers refusing to offer, refer, or advocate for lifesaving abortion, thereby severely compromising health outcomes in poor countries. The Trump administration has even asserted that the United States will no longer recognize reproductive rights, a core commitment in international law accepted by both Republican and Democratic administrations since the Cairo conference on population in the early 1990s.
The final frontier for this issue is that leaders must address the criticism made by civil society and women’s groups that a feminist foreign policy is undercut by defense policy. Here even Sweden is under fire: When Sweden announced the world’s first feminist foreign policy in 2014, and then a year later signed a deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a country where adult women are still legally defined as dependents under male guardians’ care, it came under a storm of criticism for being hypocritical. This was not only because of Saudi Arabia’s poor record on women’s rights but also because those weapons presumably would be used in conflicts that hurt women.
The goal of critique is not to shame those governments that have been brave enough to try. Instead, we should critique with an eye toward strengthening the overall approach. Successful feminist foreign policy will also require overcoming political constraints. The Canadian government has admitted it is already confronting backlash ahead of the country’s elections next year.
But the way we talk about these policies almost matters as much as the policies themselves. The answer should not be to stop using the word feminist, but rather to foster a conversation in which gender equality is not presented as a zero-sum battle where men lose and women win. In reality, it is a rising tide that raises all ships. The more the world leaders can present their ideas in that light this weekend, the better for all.
Lyric Thompson is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). @lyricthompson
August 7, 2018
Forty-One Minutes to Save The World: Investing in Nuclear Security
Grantee News From Peace and Security Funders Group:
That’s how long it takes for a North Korean nuke to reach Washington, D.C. That’s less than an episode of the Handmaid’s Tale and, apparently, less than the time we spend eating all our daily meals. It’s also the amount of time that life as we know it would change forever.
The first—and, thankfully, only—time nuclear weapons were used in war was 73 years ago this week. On August 6 and August 9, the United States dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 150,000 Japanese people instantly and another 100,000 in the aftermath, including through painful death from radiation. Today’s nuclear weapons are more than 3,000 times as powerful as those used in 1945.
You’d think that the escalating tensions with North Korea, Russia and China—all nuclear-weapons states and all U.S. adversaries—would have everyone investing their philanthropic dollars in nuclear issues.
Alarmingly, that’s far from the truth. Only $45.6 million per year is spent on nuclear issues. It may sound like a lot, but that’s only 13 percent of all peace and security philanthropy, which makes up less than 1 percent of total philanthropic giving. Put another way: Nuclear funding makes up 0.01 percent of all philanthropic giving in the United States.
Since nuclear weapons are indisputably one of the world’s greatest challenges—if not the greatest—why aren’t more funders invested in this issue?
One possible reason is that progress in reducing nuclear threats happens gradually over many decades, and demonstrating impact over that span of time is difficult. But many newer philanthropists (think: those in Silicon Valley) made their money in ventures that yielded a high and oftentimes immediate return on investment. Those of us looking to attract these new donors should be prepared to make the business case they’re used to seeing. We need to explain how important it is to tackle seemingly intractable and global threats; they should follow in the footsteps of original philanthropists—like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford, to name a few—who committed to fighting these challenges so many decades ago. Today’s new philanthropists should strive to join this elite club and do so focused on nuclear challenges. After all, the world needs their help: Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are stockpiled across 14 countries, and we have enough fissile material to make tens of thousands more.
Another possible reason for the dearth of nuclear funding is its framing. Nuclear weapons are—and should be—frightening and overwhelming. We’re talking about the end of human existence, here; where does one even begin to chip away at this existential threat? But many nouveau philanthropists made their money in society-changing, “moonshot” ways—like the internet, e-commerce, Facebook, and the shared economy—so we should encourage them to think as big and bold with their charity.
The third challenge is that if nuclear security is done right, few will ever know. How do you prove a negative? How do you prove that you’ve prevented nuclear war or a nuclear terrorist attack? When you can’t tell or show stories of success, it’s hard to attract funding to a cause.
Finally, unlike education, healthcare, or the arts, nuclear issues aren’t ones your average American experiences in their daily lives. Though a nuclear war could kill millions and fundamentally change society as we know it, it’s all theoretical. How can we relate to this? How can we connect to something so horrific—yet so unimaginable—when there are other more tangible, “real life” things we all need to worry about? Through innovative efforts like Outrider, NSquare, or The Bomb, the nuclear community has begun to address this challenge, but much more needs to be done to connect to today’s citizens.
Thankfully, there is a small and mighty cadre of funders who care about nuclear issues and can serve as thought partners to nouveau philanthropists. They have decades of hard-won lessons learned from funding research, public education, congressional engagement, and local activism. They know their investments are long-term and they are ready to share their philanthropic strategic patience models with others. It may seem unsexy at first glance, but this approach has a hefty set of recent wins under its belt, including ICAN’s 2017 Nobel Peace Prize; the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which resulted in the U.S. and Russia decreasing their nuclear warheads and launchers by hundreds; and four global nuclear security summits, which encouraged more than a dozen countries to eliminate all weapons-usable material from their soil.
So the next time you watch an episode of the Handmaid’s Tale on your Smart TV, you can thank the nuclear funders. And if you’re one of the Silicon Valley innovators who gave us this amazing technology, you should think of throwing your money into the ring to join them.
Alexandra I. Toma is Executive Director of the Peace and Security Funders Group, a network of 63 funders collaborating on a range of national security, peace, and conflict issues, including nuclear.
Women’s voices are still lacking in foreign policy op-eds
Grantee News From Foreign Policy Interrupted:
WE FACE A STAGGERING ARRAY OF FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGES today: climate change, extremism, epidemics, increasing inequality, threats of nuclear war, and cyber-attacks. Yet, somehow, we continue to underutilize a valuable resource to address these challenges: women.
The Women’s Media Center notes that when it comes to bylines and credits in 2017, 62 percent of bylines belonged to men; 38 percent to women. Sixteen percent of Pulitzer Prize winners have been women.
Women’s voices and perspectives are equally scarce on the op-ed page, a critical forum for influencing public opinion, promoting and affecting policy, and exerting leadership. To quantify the gender gap, Foreign Policy Interrupted, an organization that aims to increase female voices in the media, undertook a systematic review of foreign policy op-eds in 1996, 2006, and 2016 in the four largest newspapers in the US: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.
We found that we are far from gender parity on the op-ed page, and it’s not changing fast enough.
FPI identified 3,758 foreign policy op-eds across the three one-year periods. These articles spanned global affairs, national security, war, development, human rights, global trade and commerce, and bilateral and multilateral issues. Of these, 568, or 15 percent, were written by women.
“At that rate, we won’t approach parity until 2056, a full professional generation from now.”
The total number of op-eds by women has increased rapidly in two decades—from 58 in 1996 to 250 in 2016. However, this largely reflects the increase in total content available through online platforms, rather than an improvement in parity. Across the four publications combined, the proportion of op-eds authored by women increased more modestly over time: from 8 percent in 1996, to 15 percent in 2006, to 19 percent in 2016.
In the Times and the Post, women’s share of op-ed bylines has increased over time from 4 percent and 15 percent to 23 percent and 24 percent respectively. In the LA Times, the share of female bylines also increased, from 8 percent to 17 percent, though the number of foreign policy op-eds published by the LA Timesdecreased.
The increase in equal representation did not hold across all publications. In The Wall Street Journal, women were no better represented in 2016 compared to 1996—fewer than one in eight foreign policy opinion pieces was authored by a woman.
The FPI review shows that the share of women’s bylines has increased by as much as 7 percentage points per decade. At that rate, we won’t approach parity until 2056, a full professional generation from now.
The tendency to publish the same bylines and quote the same sources repeatedly is partly driven by the pressure on today’s media to produce more content with fewer resources. When breaking news hits, daily beat journalists eager for sources reach out to the first people they can find working on and influencing any given issue, not the experts working outside the nerve center or think tank world. This gives men, who dominate the top spots in think tanks, the Pentagon, the State Department, National Security Council, and White House an advantage. The Wall Street Journal, for example, published seven pieces by John Bolton in 2016.
This also leads to a self-reinforcing cycle: the more you are heard, the more influential you become. The numbers are daunting, but the problem is not intractable. There is no shortage of qualified women in the pipeline; Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Tufts’s Fletcher School, and Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Study all had more than 50 percent female enrollment in 2016.
There are clear steps to increasing the diversity of voices and thought leaders in foreign policy—and other fields where women’s voices are lacking. Editors need to widen their scope, and solicit and consider pitches from a more diverse range of voices and a more equal mix of women and men. Likewise journalists should be vigilant about reviewing their quoted sources to make sure they’re reaching out to women, too.
Elmira Bayrasli and Elizabeth Radin are the authors of this article. Elmira Bayrasli is the CEO and co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted. Elizabeth Radin is a researcher and lecturer at Columbia University and an FPI Fellow.
June 20, 2018
World Refugee Day video
April 26, 2018
The World Is Getting More Dangerous. What Are Peace and Security Funders Trying to Do About That?
April 12, 2018
Domestic abusers: Dangerous for women — and lethal for cops
March 21, 2018
Afghanistan-Taliban peace talks must include women negotiators defending their rights
March 13, 2018