Above the Fold, October 23

Dear Colleagues,

As a global organization, we remain committed to the struggles and achievements of our members everywhere.

Because twenty-five years since Beijing’s historic World Conference on Women — where United Nations (UN) member states pledged their commitment to action toward equal rights and power for women — not one country has yet achieved their goal of gender equality, according to a new UN report. The findings also indicate that COVID-19 is not only interrupting gender equality efforts worldwide, but also threatening to reverse decades of hard-won gains, even as women are disproportionately those fighting on the front lines of the pandemic, representing 70% of health care and social workers worldwide. 

“Women are far from having an equal voice to men,” said Liu Zhenmin, chief of the UN’s economic and social affairs department. “And in every region of the world, women are still subjected to various forms of violence and harmful practices.” 

As you are aware, gender inequality and misogyny have been helped along by the concurrent global epidemics of systemic racism, colonialism and white supremacy. The resurgent power of right-wing white nationalist groups in the U.S. and Europe jeopardize the lives and autonomy of women and girls — especially women and girls of color. From a Polish court ruling this week that amounts to a near total ban on abortion to reports that nearly 550 deported parents of migrant children who were taken from their families at the U.S. border cannot be found, we’re seeing mounting attacks on women’s basic human rights. And these examples are far from outliers in harmful, restrictive abortion laws and barriers that remain on the books in many European nations, including Germany, Spain and Italy. 

There are bright spots. We have to remember that the leadership of women and girls, especially women of color, have powered every major social, political and civil rights movement throughout history. Providing resources, expertise and the connective thread within and across our communities, you and your organizations are the fuel that help propel women and girls forward. Thank you for your steadfast leadership and courage. Onward.  

Yours for equity and justice, 

Elizabeth Signature

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

Letters from Elizabeth