A Wider Path to Victory: Centering Gender Justice
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate and support the global struggle for women’s rights, which are now under attack everywhere we look. We feel these threats deeply, because we have both worked alongside our sisters in this movement. And we believe that it is now time to broaden this fight to gender justice. This wider path will lead to victory for all of us – all races, all genders, all communities.
How did we get here? We have been on a long and deep learning journey in what was initially labeled our “women’s rights” work at the Libra Foundation. Over the past few years, we have listened to grantee partners tell us about their work and their funding struggles.
We heard from reproductive justice leaders about how the erosion of reproductive rights is a symptom of other forms of oppression – racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, ableism, and others. We listened as they told us that even when we had Roe, it was never enough for Black, Brown, undocumented, and poor communities that never had access in the first place. We spoke with trans leaders who connected the tactics used to ban abortion rights over the last five decades to the anti-trans bills that are rapidly sweeping this country now. Black and Indigenous women and queer folks of color told us that the movement to end gendered violence was inextricably linked to the movement for racial, economic, reproductive, queer, and trans justice.
As we listened, the connections became impossible to unsee, and we realized that we needed to chart a new path towards funding that allows movements to bring their full selves to the issues we care about.
That journey has now taken us to an exciting new place. We invite other funders to join us in refocusing their women’s rights work on the broader fight for gender justice. As we have learned, taking this path will bring you many beautiful new opportunities and gifts, removing artificial barriers and inviting in fresh synergies. No, it does not mean losing focus on women’s rights. Instead it widens the frame for our work, enabling us to effectively address overlapping crises that include the fall of Roe, the struggle for racial justice, and escalating attacks on trans people.
If our mid-sized family foundation can make this bold evolution, your organization can too. We are lucky to have a board that is curious about the field and open to change that will advance the foundation’s mission. We had a strong starting point, as the Libra Foundation was grounded in years of funding for women’s rights organizations. Our evolution was a product of authentic listening to communities we serve – not a sudden or top-down decision. Our new approach is intersectional – because we know that gender justice needs a racial, queer, and trans justice lens to reach the most marginalized and oppressed.
So, what exactly do we mean when we talk about Gender Justice? What does this kind of philanthropy look like? We invite you to check out our whole funding portfolio. But we want to highlight a few examples of the grantee partners who inspire us:
- Spark Reproductive Justice builds leaders to engage and educate communities in shifting power, shifting culture, and uplifting Black Women and Queer and Trans Young People of Color.
- Third Wave Fund resources youth-led, intersectional, gender justice movements to advance the community power, well-being, and self-determination of young Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color.
- Trans Justice Funding Project is a community-led funding initiative that supports grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people organizing around their experiences with racism, economic injustice, transmisogyny, ableism, immigration, incarceration, and other intersecting oppressions.
- Black Trans Fund seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy.
- Justice for Migrant Women aims to ensure that all migrant women are guaranteed human and civil rights, including the freedom of mobility, the ability to live and work with dignity, and the right to be free of threats of violence against them and their families.
With grantee partners like these shining lights as our teachers, we continue to learn, question our own thinking, and evolve our strategy. We absorb ideas from others in the field doing visionary work, like Aldita Gallardo of the Fund for Trans Generations, who outlined how funders can build authentic relationships with trans and nonbinary communities in a recent article in Stanford Social Innovation Review. We are constantly learning and expanding our field of vision. We read, we discuss, and we adjust as events in our communities challenge us to grow and as new issues arise.
And we welcome company. If you currently fund in the women’s space, or in reproductive rights, we invite you to join us on this wider, more inclusive path to justice. We realize that the default position of philanthropy is to be siloed. The fear is that if you shift, you lose. Our message is: if you shift, all of us gain. Because our communities, and our struggles, are and will always be interconnected.
Jennie Agmi is Senior Program Officer for Gender Justice at the Libra Foundation. Susan Pritzker is Co-President of the foundation’s Board of Directors. Artwork by Amir Khadar.
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