Breaking Barriers and Building a Better World

Happy Women's History Month! This special time is set aside to celebrate women's immeasurable contributions and unwavering strength throughout history. As we reflect on the sacrifices made by generations before us, we recognize that women have always been at the forefront of progress, driving change and shaping the world we live in today.

But this month isn't just about honoring the past; it's also a call to action for the present and the future. It's an opportunity to celebrate women's collective power, resilience, and determination to achieve a more equitable society.

The facts are clear: “around 2.4 billion working-age women are not afforded equal economic opportunity, and 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation. Additionally, in 86 countries, women face some form of job restriction, and 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work."

As a Lever for Change team member, I am part of an organization with women equally represented and at our highest levels of leadership. Julia Stasch, Lever for Change's founding board chair, has a broad leadership background in the business, governmental, and social sectors. Our founding CEO, Cecilia Conrad, had a distinguished career as a higher education administrator and economics professor before working in philanthropy and launching Lever for Change. Additionally, I work closely with and learn from two Lever for Change senior leaders, Dana Rice, Vice President, Philanthropy, and Kristen Molyneaux, Vice President, Program Strategy and Learning. When only 26% of all CEOs and managing directors globally are women, it is a privilege to be on a team closing the gender gap.

LFC Staff discussing driving ideas for bold solutions.
Caption: LFC Staff discussing driving ideas for bold solutions.
Credit: Lever for Change

Not only does Lever for Change have women equally represented throughout the organization, but the team I am part of, the Philanthropy team, is an all-women team of five. I had yet to personally experience being part of an all-women team in my 10-year career, and it is an experience I cherish and hope to repeat. During my almost one-and-a-half years at Lever for Change, I have observed and learned from driven, empathetic, intelligent, and strategic women whose leadership and mentorship I greatly value. Not only do these qualities influence me, but I believe they positively impact how we work with donors and our Bold Solutions Network members throughout our challenge cycle—leading with empathy and drive while supporting with strategy and action. I hope to one day lead with many of the same qualities I have learned from the women of Lever for Change.

There is an unstoppable force of women changing the course of history, and we are honored to showcase some of their remarkable projects in our Bold Solutions Network. The projects featured in the collection below primarily serve women and girls and focus on gender equity. For example, Ada Developers Academy is working to create a "self-perpetuating flywheel" that brings women and gender-expansive people into tech by retaining, developing, and propelling them into leadership roles. It enables Ada Developers Academy to position women to get hired and advance exponentially more women and gender-expansive people—narrowing the gap in one of our country's most economically prosperous and culturally influential sectors.

When speaking on women-leadership, Lauren Sato, CEO of Ada Developers Academy, stated, "At Ada, we have the privilege of experiencing every day what is possible when women have the opportunity to lead. Internally, we have an entirely women-led organization (majority women of color and parents). Having this kind of representative leadership means that all of our decision-making is rooted in the perspectives of our broader community - from how we design our physical spaces, to our benefits packages, to policies and program design. Our work is more effective because it is built by those it serves."

Pastoral Women's Council founding members.
Caption: Pastoral Women's Council founding members.
Credit: Pastoral Women's Council

Endeavors to increase opportunities for women are happening globally, as well. A prime example is the Pastoral Women's Council (PWC) of Tanzania, whose work empowers indigenous women and girls to become change agents by transforming oppressive social norms that inhibit gender equity and inclusive development. Maanda Ngoitiko, Co-founder and Executive Director, shares, "PWC started only as a dream. Today through women's solidarity, PWC is realizing its long-term vision of a new generation of pastoralist women having freedom, courage, and economic independence. Their capacity to live their lives, determine their own priorities and influence the future of their communities gives us hope for sustainable norms change and a brighter future for everyone."

Investing in the following projects can help move the needle forward on women's economic opportunity and equity. These organizations are working to create a safe, inclusive, and equitable world for all. I am looking forward to seeing how these women shape our future.

Whether you are an individual looking to make a difference, or an organization seeking to invest in meaningful change, these projects offer a unique opportunity to support incredible initiatives doing vital work to secure women’s equity.

We can provide additional information about a proposal, facilitate introductions to the organizations, and even share a curated list of organizations if you have specific philanthropic interest areas. Please reach out to Karen Minkel, our Director of Philanthropy, to take the next step in supporting one or more of these compelling and bold solutions.

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