In The Face Of Risk, We Must Be Bold

Dear Colleagues,

This week Women’s Funding Network hosted a discussion with public policy experts and economic security advocates Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center and Gloria Perez, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Key Policy Approaches to Women’s Economic Mobility was presented as part of WFN’s Economic Justice Speaker Series.

Panelists both noted that any investments in COVID relief and recovery must address the exodus of women from the paid workforce, such as policy proposals that focus on investing in the caregiving sector and expanding universal access to child care. They also emphasized that public officials should immediately implement policies to provide paid family leave and paid sick days for all workers.

Fatima pointed out that we find ourselves in a time of both “deep opportunity and risk,” as power shifts to a new administration and new Congress. As we all know, women and girls – especially women and girls of color – are at greatest risk and shouldering the greatest burden of the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

At this pivotal juncture, Fatima encourages us to ask ourselves, “What does it mean in our advocacy and policy to keep a laser focus and attention on women of color?”

Gloria noted, women’s funds, foundations and gender justice funders can and must play an important role in centering public policies on women and girls. “At the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, we always say that problems and solutions are found in the same place,” Gloria said. For women’s funds and foundations, that means taking a deep partnership approach that includes deep listening. Unfortunately, that is in stark contrast to how policy is developed inside the Beltway and inside state capitals across the U.S.

The work you do every day is a blueprint for how government and philanthropy writ large must center gender equity and racial justice. That means including those impacted – women and people of color – at decision making tables and transferring power to grassroots communities, as exemplified by participatory funding models and our Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs.

Thank you for your continued ingenuity and your stalwart commitment to advancing women’s and girls’ rights. Indeed, we have much work to do, but this network of leaders is more than up to the task. We will persevere and we will achieve transformational progress.

Yours for equity and justice,

Elizabeth Signature

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

Letters from Elizabeth