Race and Gender Inequity: The Gap Between Dreams and Possibilities

with Teresa C. Younger of the Ms. Foundation for Women

With less than 2% of Americans’ charitable giving directed toward causes for women and girls, new research shows how the COVID-19 pandemic is further compounding disparities faced by females of color.

Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, offers insight on the benefit of investing in women.

Posted on:

March 01, 2021

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: Women have come a long way since the emergence of the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and, while great strides certainly have been made, the fight for equality continues today. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Advocates say that women and girls of color live at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression and research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on them. Joining me to talk about how strategic investments can help change that is Theresa C. Younger. She is the president and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women. And, Theresa, thanks for being here.

Younger: Thanks so much for having me, Tetiana.

Anderson: So I know you've said, of women and girls of color -- and I'm going to actually quote you, here -- "The gap between dreams and possibility is getting bigger, these days." And, in a time where barriers to access are being broken for a variety of people across the board, those are some pretty sobering words. I mean, what are you seeing that makes you say that?

Younger: I think we're seeing a lot of things that are actually enlightening the way I see it. I actually see women and girls of color as the bright light for the future, but I also recognize that we are seeing a loss of jobs. We are seeing of people being kicked out of their homes. We are seeing young girls being victimized in school and by police officers. So when we talk about the dream of a safe and just world, where power and possibility are not limited, we get lost in this moment in time. COVID has really shed a light on the huge disparities that women and girls of color are faced with.

Anderson: And one of the areas where there is also disparity is in philanthropic giving to women and girls of color. I know that the foundation did a study called "Pocket Change" and it found that, while there's plenty of money earmarked for women and girls of color, it also found that it's not getting into their hands. So is this an institutional failure? What's going on and where's the money going?

Younger: Of the billions of dollars that philanthropy moves around in a year to organizations and institutions in the United States, 1.6% of those dollars go to women and girls in this country. And then, we did some research. "Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Are Doing More with Less" actually, look at how many strategic dollars are going to women and girls of color in each state across the country and we found that, across philanthropy, 0.5%, half a percentage point, are going directly to women and girls of color in this country. That's actually $5.48, on average, is being allocated by philanthropy. The money is not coming to women and girls of color. It's not even coming to women and girls, broadly. Women and girls have forever been taking care of our society, lifting up those efforts, and, now, we are seeing that they're really not getting the investment that we need to have. We should be getting at least 50%, if not more, of the dollars that are out there. And so this report was designed to say to philanthropy, "You can do better than this," and so that's what we've attempted to do, is lay out a baseline and challenge philanthropy to move more money to women and girls of color, of whom they have been at the forefront of every social and civil rights movement in this country since its inception.

Anderson: So where's the money going?

Younger: The money is going to unspecified areas. So there's just not a prioritizing of women and girls in this country. There's not. And, as much as we see women breaking barriers, we're just not seeing that.

Anderson: So, in this whole conversation about equity, there's the jobs piece as well. There was a staggering figure that came out from the Department of Labor in December of 2020. It said that... So all the job losses were suffered by women. So you've got this jobs piece, you've got this philanthropy piece -- it's not reaching women and girls of color, and you've got the idea that women and girls of color are already historically disadvantaged. What are you guys doing to sort of turn the tables on all of that?

Younger: So we're doing a couple of things. The Ms. Foundation is the oldest public women's foundation in the country and we have positioned ourselves to make sure that we are asking questions when they need to be asked. So, where are dollars going? How is philanthropy responding? How do we invest in other ways, like ensuring that women entrepreneurs have the capital that they need, that we are ensuring and creating supporting movements that are affecting the lives of women and girls in their communities? We're looking at all of those things. And what we are doing specifically for philanthropy is we created the "Pocket Change" report and then, we have laid out what we need philanthropy to do, which is we need them to track the dollars that they are giving to women and girls, women and girls of color. We need them to name it, actually say that they are going to be funding women and girls of color and be really intentional. And then, we want them to look at all of that information and increase their commitment to women and girls of color. And to all of us who seem to think sometimes that that's a risky investment, the best investment are those women and girl of color-led organizations. They handle multiple issues and they have multiple strategies for having the impact that they want to have. And we start with policy change.

Anderson: So, if people want to find out more about the work you're doing, more about the foundation itself, where can they go online?

Younger: If you go online, you can go to... ...f-o-r-w-o-m-e-n.org and you can find us there. We're also on all of the other social media sites, @MsFoundation, M-s Foundation.

Anderson: Teresa Younger, CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women, thank you so much for your insight.

Younger: Thank you for having me.

Anderson: And thank you to our viewers as well for watching. For more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the country, be sure to visit... I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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