Our 21st grantmaking year began with a sense of spectacular hope as the United States elected its first African-American President. We heard messages of joy and solidarity from women’s groups all over the world celebrating his actions to revoke the gag rule, which had taken such a toll on women’s reproductive health and rights.
Yet, as President Obama seeks to re-engage the rest of the world with offers of mutual interest and mutual respect, US policy continues to emphasize military solutions to complex global problems. We are concerned at the expansion of US military bases, the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the heavy price women pay in conflicts in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, and Georgia. 90% of the casualties in current conflicts are civilian. Less visible, but no less harmful are corporate interests that profit from arms sales or jockey for control over minerals at the expense of human rights. The Global Fund’s new strategic initiative supports women’s bold resistance to militarization and invests in strategies that reclaim and restore genuine peace and security to communities worldwide.
The year also saw a global financial meltdown triggered in part by unconscionable greed and a failure of government regulation. Sadly, the resultant economic crisis further exacerbated the poverty facing women in the developing world. Women’s efforts in societies emerging from war were severely hampered by the economic devastation. Women’s groups continue to be creative, finding ways to respond as they shoulder the burdens of healthcare, food provisioning and education. Yet, their options remain fragile, profoundly affected by climate change, conflict, and system failures over which they have little control.
The Global Fund also faced hard choices this year. Across the US, charitable giving dropped as endowments shrank; yet our supporters modeled social justice philanthropy by stepping up to stand with our grantee community. Generous individual gifts, in particular, allowed the Global Fund to meet its goals this year. Our staff made the decision to reduce their own benefits and practice fiscal stringency as their commitment to our mission. We are grateful and inspired by these collective acts of solidarity that made it possible to maintain our commitments to women’s groups at pre-crisis levels.
We know the insecurities of our times — whether financial, military or environmental — can only be addressed by bringing an end to the underlying global inequality and injustices that sustain strife. We welcome the growing public awareness of the need to advance women’s rights and recognize the critical role women play in ending these pressing problems. The world is waking up to what we have known for decades: Women Hold the Solutions.
With your support, we hope to steadily grow the resources women need to realize a world that knows genuine security — â€¨of livelihoods, health, and education — for all of us.
Chair, Board of Directors
Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair at Mills College
||KAVITA N. RAMDAS
President and CEO
San Francisco, California