Anu Jain shares the latest on the Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE Competition

Anu Jain & the Women’s Safety XPrize Finalists

Author: Anu Jain (Member, Women Moving Millions & Founder & President, Naveen & Anu Jain Family Foundation)

My dream of achieving girls and women’s safety worldwide is finally one step closer to becoming a reality. Two years after the launch of the Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s XPRIZE competition, the top five finalist teams are going to be unveiled and the winning team presented with a million-dollar check at the United Nations in New York in June 2018.

As I arrived in Mumbai, India, for the final team testing of the Anu & Naveen Jain Women Safety XPRIZE competition, my heart raced with excitement. I was finally going to meet the semifinalist teams from around the world and see their technology solutions in action!  They had been working on finding a solution since the launch of the competition in October 2016 and I would get to see their technology solutions for the first time.

Teams ranged from University students, to scientists, to entrepreneurs, engineers, parents, and victims of abuse. All from different walks of life and all with the same goal of finding a solution to provide immediate help to girls and women in times of assault.

The members of the 20 teams were so passionate and dedicated to finding a solution and were here, not for the one-million-dollar prize purse, but to really focus on and solve the problem of women’s safety, which has been overlooked for generations. The prize had incentivized them to enter the competition, but now, as competitive as they all were, the teams were working together to find the best solution to the problem.

The winning devices ranged from smart jewelry that can trigger emergency alerts to other wearables that detect physical gestures and speech recognition for emergency triggers. All solutions were tested live in front of the judging panel and in simulated testing environments in April 2018 including public transportation in Mumbai, India taking routes unknown to the teams to test the mobility and advanced functionality of their devices.

The Judging Panel was composed of high caliber individuals from all over the world; from a distinguished former FBI agent, to a retired US Army veteran and awarded entrepreneurs and engineers.

As I got to observe everyone in action, I was awestruck by how everyone was so focused, crossing all borders, and were passionately discussing ways to work together to solve this global problem.

It is amazing to see how incentivized competitions can draw attention from around the world to solve the largest problems that face humanity.  We need to look beyond the traditional methods of philanthropy and use innovation and technology to find solutions while also working to change the mindset of people.

As I sat on my flight back home, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement. The Anu & Naveen Women’s Safety XPRIZE had brought together people from different backgrounds across the world to work together to help us get one step closer to my dream: To live in a world where safety would no longer be considered a luxury for girls and women but recognized and accepted as a fundamental human right.

Mariska Hargitay is Helping Survivors Tell Their Stories

Author: Mariska Hargitay (Member, Women Moving Millions & Founder, Joyful Heart Foundation)

Today, hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sit in law enforcement facilities across the United States. Hundreds of thousands of kits. Untested for years, many for more than a decade. And behind each of those kits is a person—a sexual assault survivor—waiting for justice, waiting for closure, or not waiting anymore, because it’s been too long. If that leaves you slack-jawed with outrage, I couldn’t agree more.

I started the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 to help survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives. Since then, we have grown into a national organization dedicated to changing the way our society responds to these issues and ending this violence once and for all.

In 2009, thanks to a report by Human Rights Watch, I learned there were more than 12,000 untested rape kits in my hometown of Los Angeles, and I thought my head was going to explode. At Joyful Heart, we immediately made eliminating the backlog our top priority and set out to shine as bright a light as we could on this travesty. That involved studying the best way to re-engage survivors whose kits were part of a backlog, partnering with cities to finally test their kits, working with survivors and advocates to advance legislative change, as well as many other routes of engagement.

I also wanted as many people as possible to know about the backlog, and to hear the stories of the women whose kits have sat on shelves for far too long. A team of dedicated, compassionate filmmakers and I worked with a group of survivors—who truly taught us what courage is—to make I AM EVIDENCE. Our film, which premiered earlier this month, is currently airing on HBO and HBO Latino and can be found on HBO NOW and HBO GO.

I AM EVIDENCE not only tells survivors’ stories, it also showcases the remarkable efforts in communities across America to bring an end to this injustice. I am deeply inspired by the advocates and survivors who have engaged in this work for decades, but they need the help of citizens in every state in this nation to tell their elected officials this matters. With this film—as we elevate the voices of those most impacted— we aim to provoke outrage, mobilize the public, underline the urgency of this effort, and ultimately, engage people across the country to demand change.

We don’t know the full extent of the rape kit backlog because federal agencies and most state governments don’t require police departments to count or track the kits in their possession. Most of the time, the number of untested kits in a particular place is unknown until advocates, survivors, journalists, non-profit organizations, or concerned citizens initiate and lead an inquiry. This has to end.

That is why Joyful Heart is engaged in a national campaign to pass laws in all 50 states that mandate kits be tested, tracked, and acted upon. We have six pillars of reform we are working to pass in every state, as these are the only way to ensure that discretion or resources can no longer be used as excuses to deny sexual assault survivors the justice they deserve.

At its core, this issue is about survivors. What mattered most to me in making I AM EVIDENCE was bringing their stories into the light and giving them the space to tell their truths. And not just of their assaults, but of the effect of a flawed criminal justice system that left their rape kit untested and their cases unresolved.

As the landscape around these issues continues to change dramatically in this extraordinary cultural moment, where women’s individual acts of courage have brought an unprecedented wave of change, I have reflected on what has driven me to work in this field. My most immediate answer is outrage. Put most simply, what I learned made me mad, and I wanted to do something about it. But I have also been driven by hope. And fueled by possibility. And sustained by the joy of community.

My fervent hope for this film is that it will be a catalyst for action, that it will move you to learn about the backlog in your community and in your state, and that it will motivate you to join this movement to end this injustice once and for all. We cannot do it alone.

Follow on social media to stay updated on these amazing efforts:

Joyful Heart Foundation: Twitter; Facebook
I AM EVIDENCE: Twitter; Facebook

End the Backlog: Twitter

Skoll World Forum 2018 | The Year of the Woman

Author: Natalie Lynn Rekstad (Member, Women Moving Millions)

Each year, nearly a thousand of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders, and strategic partners come together for the Skoll World Forum to exchange ideas, solutions, and spark collaboration.  Located at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, the Forum is comprised of an extraordinary community of changemakers who are advancing entrepreneurial approaches and solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

It was incredible to see so many members of Women Moving Millions taking the Forum by Storm:  Emily Nielsen Jones, Cristina Ljungbert, Wendy Anderson, Sapphira Goradia, Liz Sheehan, Jim Greenbaum, Lorene Arey, and myself.  What a force of bold changemakers moving the conversation around women and girls forward throughout the Forum.

This year’s theme was the “The Power of Proximity” – being proximate to the people and communities we endeavor to help.  By more fully grasping people’s needs and dreams through deep interaction, we grow more empathetic, and have a richer understanding of adversities being experienced.  Only then can we genuinely understand their journey, earn the privilege to walk beside them, and join them in bringing about change that honors their definition of prosperity.

Beloved Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg, put it this way: “Proximity triggers empathy.  Social entrepreneurs must commit to proximity to gain knowledge of the contexts affecting the communities they serve and the institutions that can help them scale their solutions.”  Many of us remember Sally from her participation in the 2015 WMM Summit where she talked about, among many things, the book she co-authored entitled:  Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works. She is stepping down as CEO of Skoll Foundation, but her legacy is a powerful testament to how one woman can unify and propel thousands with her life philosophy and mantra, captured in one word: “Onward!”

Particularly inspiring during the Opening Plenary was a session by Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.  Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer, dedicating his career to helping the poor, incarcerated, and condemned.  To understand the Skoll World Forum theme of “The Power of Proximity” – watch his session; it will be the best 20-minute gift you can give yourself today.

In fact, my new obsession is the Skoll Youtube channel, and I encourage you to go there whenever you feel the need to be inspired by the plenary speakers and performers, or to build your professional and/or funder knowledge through the education sessions.

President Jimmy Carter was presented with the annual Skoll Global Treasure Award for his stunning record of achievements in addressing global problems. He shared that having more women politicians will result in a more peaceful world.   Carter says it best: “There’s no doubt in my mind that a woman is more inclined to peace than a man is, so I think we can move towards peace if women get more and more positions in parliament and more and more positions as president.”  BOOM!

The Skoll Foundation presents the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship each year to a select group of social entrepreneurs whose innovations have already had significant, proven impact on some of the world’s most pressing problems, and invests directly in the promise of even greater impact at scale.

It’s notable that five out of six Skoll Award winners this year are womenmerit-based, certainly, but when I asked Skoll World Forum Co-Founder Stephan Chambers about this over breakfast, he indicated it was “not a coincidence.”  Stephan also shared that 60% of this year’s delegates were women, and 65% were people of color. This year’s stellar Awardees are:

  • Jess Ladd, Callisto
    This organization really struck a chord with me (actually it’s “why” made me weep).  Callisto is helping women and young girls report sexual assault through software that can keep time-stamped documentation of a sexual assault, searches a database to see if any other women have named the perpetrator, galvanizing the attacked to file a report via the Callisto platform.  This has been particularly powerful on college campuses throughout the US.
  • Anushka Ratnayake, myAgro
    A special congratulations to a Black Fox Philanthropy client, myAgro!  myAgro is an agricultural focused organization helping farmers through a pioneering microfinancing solution that allows farmers to purchase seeds, equipment and tools they need via a layaway-type plan, eliminating the cycle of scarcity often faced by farmers between harvests.
  •  Lesley Marincola, Angaza
    Angaza’s platform enables manufacturers and distributors to make energy products affordable to the world’s 1 billion off-grid consumers.
  • Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America
    Code for America uses the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the American public, and how the public improves government.
  •  Barbara Pierce Bush, Global Health Corps
    GHC’s goal is to recruit a diverse group of young professionals and insert them into existing health and government agencies in an attempt to offer a fresher, more varied view of global health issues.
  • Harish Hande, SELCO
    SELCO provides sustainable energy solutions to the poorest regions of the world through building an ecosystem for accessing clean energy.

Black Fox Philanthropy teamed up with Young Presidents Organization to produce a session on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals titled “From Promise to Practice.” I was inspired to produce the convening by my obsession with the SDGs, and ways in which the Goals are gaining traction in overarching ways: in guiding the deployment of billions of dollars in development finance, in building partnerships between public and private sector actors beyond the 193 UN members who unanimously endorsed them, and in providing a framework for advocacy for each of the seventeen goals. Yet history teaches us that lasting social change is not gifted from above, but rather through pressure from below.  I couldn’t find a central conversation around what that looks like from the boots-on-the-ground perspective in the reading materials I’d scoured for months, so decided to make the SDGs a central conversation at Skoll among the change-makers themselves.  It was thrilling to see that half of the robust attendance were funders, many of whom operate in the “big bet” space.

The session included speakers who were curated based upon their leadership in addressing core solutions outlined in the SDGs, their organizations’ impact, and their unique capacity to effectively absorb and deploy bold philanthropy to get the Goals over the finish line by the year 2030.  Participants were Sasha Chanoff of RefugePoint; Avery Bang, CEO at Bridges to Prosperity; Martin Fisher, Co-Founder & CEO at Kickstart & Skoll Awardee 2005; Jensine Larsen, Founder & CEO at World Pulse; Eric Stowe, Founder & Executive Director at SPLASH; Leslee Udwin, Founder & President at Think Equal; and moderated by Jay Coen Gilbert of B Lab, Skoll Awardee 2014 (Black Fox Philanthropy is proud to be a B Corp!)

The smaller gatherings throughout Skoll week were a highlight, and it was incredible to meet with beloved clients, and old and new friends from Women Moving Millions, Opportunity Collaboration, Maverick Collective, The Philanthropy Workshop, as well as serendipitously in the Collaboration Cafe, on the streets of Oxford, and at after-hours parties that are rampant throughout Oxford during the week.  The icing on the cake was dining and conversing with social impact giants in the “Harry Potter dining hall” at Christ Church, where in the 19th Century Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, also presided as Lecturer of Mathematics, and where he met the famed 10-year old “Alice”, the daughter of a dean.

I am deeply grateful to be part of a community that cares so deeply about each other, humanity, and the world, and am proud to carry the torch forward into my philanthropy, and in our work at Black Fox Philanthropy.  Onward!

Natalie Lynn Rekstad is Founder & CEO, Black Fox Philanthropy, LLC. Check out her website, Black Fox Philanthropy.

Lysa Rohan is On a Mission to Help Women Age Vibrantly

Author: Lysa Rohan (Member, Women Moving Millions)

I came of age during the first wave of the Women’s Movement in the 1970’s. Even as a thirteen year old, I knew the passing of Roe v. Wade was a great thing for women’s health.

As a senior in high school I wrote a paper for an English paper about the sex-role language of men and women. After that, my awareness of the inequality we women experience every day was engrained in me, for life. Fast forward to turning fifty and the end of my interior design career, I took stock of my life at mid-life. I made the choice to completely change career paths, return to school, and become a Certified Gerontologist. I loved interior design, but felt I could help others in a more tangible way. Blessed with good health, sustainable energy, and the belief I can reinvent my life–engaging my mantra: you always have the power to re-choose— I wanted to give back to the world in gratitude for all I have been given, to pay forward my good fortune. I also knew from the beginning of my most recent return to school, that I needed to concentrate on issues facing women as they age, for my own journey and to help all my friends live long, healthy lives so that I would have playmates!

I chose gerontology because it is the only science-based, holistic discipline focused on aging. It looks at all aspects of aging—the body, mind, and spirit, and integrates all the disparate information from the other sciences—biology, physiology, psychology, and sociology — to understand the whole human being and all she experiences as she gets older. It is a unique and very cool approach.

Always an academic nerd, I loved science from an early age. When I developed endometriosis in my early twenties, learning everything I could about this disease became very personal. I almost died after my eventual hysterectomy from a one in ten million reaction to the replacement hormones I was given. After exploring every available resource I could find on the subject, I pretty much came up zero on anything that could help me effectively deal with my disease. Once I fully recovered from my post-surgery complications, my mission in life became writing a book to help women be healthier after menopause. I am in that process now. I launched my practice in January of this year—L.J. Rohan-Certified Gerontologist at My weekly blog contains information not only on how to manage our aging process, but also how to make this chapter of our lives the best it can be. I include healthful tips, answer questions, plus I include weekly humorous takes on aging through custom-drawn New Yorker-style illustrations.

In developing my platform, I am putting together a talk and handout in which I offer guidance for aging vibrantly to women. In addition to speaking to women like us, I will work with women in underserved areas around the country.  I plan to visit their communities, where they live and work. This is the truly exciting part of my work. Based on solid science and the latest research, I have created an action plan for all women that puts them on the path to vibrant aging. The remarkable thing about my list of recommendations is that 88% of these are free of any monetary investment, which allows women, no matter their circumstances, to gain benefit from my suggestions.

Concurrently, I am working with two esteemed medical doctors in writing a proposal for a book covering in greater depth my recommendations and additional exciting information on how to age vibrantly. Once the book is published, I will continue to reach out to women through my personal speeches and blogs. Each year I also plan to put thousands of free books into the hands of women here and women around the world, through what I hope will soon be, The Want to Be Vibrant? Foundation. (I am awaiting the copyright search results.)

My desire and vision is to change the conversation and the reality about aging for women; to give us the knowledge and tools we need to be the very best version of ourselves as we grow older.

Check out Lysa’s new website here and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram!


Philanthropy in the Home | How Sons and Daughters respond based upon Gender

Author: Natalie Lynn Rekstad (Member, Women Moving Millions)

On March 13th in Denver, Colorado, I was fortunate to attend the 2018 release of Women Give, the signature research report of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, focusing on gender differences in charitable giving.

This year’s report focuses upon how parents’ philanthropic activity directly influences the children they are raising, and how that influence lands differently for daughters and sons.  The report provides evidence that gender does in fact matter in philanthropy and offers insight into how gender influences giving and generosity, and provides insights into how to increase giving by both genders.  In short, charitable giving is a prosocial behavior that can be translated differently between boys and girls. The research found that both sons and daughters are influenced positively by parents who are charitable and are more likely to give to charity themselves; however, daughters are more strongly influenced by modeling by parents; sons are more influenced by discussing giving.

The research also investigates how parents relay philanthropic values to their children based upon gender.  For example, girls are much more likely to be raised with the traditional caregiving values. Daughters are often taught, directly or indirectly, that giving to charitable organizations is an act of caregiving and are therefore more likely to contribute based on that instilled value.

Another determining factor may be the difference in parental treatment in raising of sons and daughters.  Boys are typically taught to take higher risks than daughters, while girls are taught in a more intellectual manner. Another lens of the study reports that while daughters and sons are raised similarly and taught the same values throughout their childhood, they respond differently to the same message. For daughters, a parents charitable behavior directly impacts their own in adulthood, being 27% more likely to give if they had parents who were charitable. Findings show that parents’ philanthropic behavior, whether they give or not, has little impact on their adult sons. Frequency of a parents’ giving also impacts daughters more than it does sons.

Bottom line:  While sons and daughters respond differently to their parents’ philanthropic behavior, the act of philanthropy in the home ups the odds that children will be more charitable as adults. Communicating this value to sons and daughters in a way that uniquely lands with their gender increases those odds even more.

Read the full report here.

Penny George Invests in Authentic Leaders and Transformative Programs

Penny George – WMM November 2017 Member of the Month

I am immensely grateful to have had the good fortune to become part of Women Moving Millions (WMM).  As an accidental philanthropist responsible for our family foundation since its inception in the mid-1990’s, I have been keenly aware that my background as a consulting psychologist did not equip me adequately for that role.

What I am learning by being part of WMM will enable me to lead our board to have a more significant impact upon our mission, which is to foster wholeness in mind, body, spirit and community by investing in authentic leaders and transformative programs serving the common good.

As current board chair and co-founder with my husband Bill of the George Family Foundation, my deepest personal engagement over the years has been in the area of integrative medicine and health. After my diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer in early 1996, I came to realize that medicine needed a major reboot, and since then have been pursuing opportunities to transform clinical care and academic medicine to a whole-person, preventive, participative model of care.

I think of integrative medicine as the return of the Feminine to medicine. Women have been quick to recognize the importance of empowering people to be the central agents in their own health, and many of those leading this effort are women. While our grants in this area are not gender-focused, I will consider it a triumph for women when all people have meaningful choices when they are sick and ample support for helping them avoid chronic illness.

Beyond integrative medicine, our foundation also invests heavily in leadership development. We support women engineers at my husband’s alma mater, Georgia Tech.

We also have created a women’s leadership initiative at my alma mater, Duke University. The Duke initiative is based on a cohort model that offers women the opportunity to pursue a meaningful project of personal interest to them supported by their peers.

When thinking about a possible gift to Duke to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my graduation, I was struck by the fact that women at Duke participate just as actively in campus organizations as do the men, but rate themselves lower on a measure of leadership. We hope this program will give young women at Duke (not just cohort members) new skills and more accurate self-perceptions.

We are a passionate supporter of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and the Dakotas where part of our giving supports youth education and leadership development. Sarah Stoesz, CEO, is an inspiring and courageous leader in what are very dark times for reproductive health for women and girls.

A personal favorite grantee is Ripple Effect Images. Ripple identifies top aid organizations helping women and girls and sends world-class photographers and filmmakers to document their work, helping raise dramatically more funding for the work. An interesting aside is that Ripple is led by a woman, Annie Griffiths, who was one of the first women photographers for National Geographic magazine – and who was, as a freshman in college in 1972, was assigned to me for academic advising.

Another noteworthy program we are supporting is a 2019 exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) which represents the first time that Native American women artists have been recognized by name.  Mia is one of the most prestigious art museums in the U.S. and this exhibit will garner a great deal of national and international attention.

Our foundation has also been part of a multi-year strategic effort led by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) to bring into alignment the various sectors of society engaged in halting child sex trafficking.  We will soon be investing in a second major initiative of WFM, its Young Women’s Initiative which seeks to involve young women directly in discovering and advocating for long term solutions in six particular communities, all of which face some of the greatest health, income and educational disparities and where strict female gender norms are most prevalent.

Two years ago our Foundation made a decision that was influenced in part by my involvement with WMM.  We agreed to stop categorizing our support of programs and organizations that advance women and girls as a siloed focus area, and instead to embed our funding for women and girls within all of our grantmaking focus areas.  While we had being doing this all along, this shift in thinking has caused us to be more diligent and mindful in seeking out specific programs where girls are frequently left behind and to have numerical markers to track our progress.

WMM has been instrumental in expanding my understanding and commitment to using some of our foundation’s assets to invest more deeply in women-owned businesses and investment portfolios.  While we are just getting started, I take comfort in knowing that I am part of a community of women who will help me and guide me in this journey.

I am so grateful to have connected with Jacki Zehner and Helen LaKelly Hunt back in 2012.  I came away from talking with them even more committed to celebrate the Feminine and to seek additional ways to advance women in girls through my work in philanthropy and other means of influence that I have.

I salute the founders and early members of WMM. I am optimistic that this growing community will equal the Suffragettes and the courageous feminists of the 1960’s and 1970’s in their impact on improving the lives of women and girls in this country and the world.

The Inequality of Women in the Visual Arts

Author: Kaleta Doolin (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on November 3, 2017 on Gender Avenger

“After seeing the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters and then the new movies, Wonder Woman and Hidden Figures, it seems as if women have finally come up in the world. Moreover, in this past year, there have been many all women visual art exhibitions and many more one-woman shows than usual. Is this simply another token “Year of the Woman”? The last “Year of the Woman” happened in 2006, and it seems to occur roughly every decade.

It is well known that generations of patriarchy have held women back in politics, science, and the workplace, and it is recognized that these historical legacies must be combatted. Why is it that the generations of patriarchy that have shaped the history of art are not recognized as needing the same rethinking?

It is apparent in the higher sale price of works by male artists and the higher percentage of male representation in group shows, articles, galleries, and one-person shows that male artists are perceived as more talented than female artists.”

Click here to keep reading the full article on!