So much has happened this past year which has reaffirmed our commitment to working to transform the deeper roots which underlie and drive the whole continuum of gender-based injustice and exploitation which is all too normal around the world.
For us, our “gender-lens” has been one of our entry points into this larger work of joining with others in “repairing the world” (aka tikkun olan in Jewish activism/philanthropy) to co-create a more holistic, just, and sustainable way of being humans together in our world. In the wake of the #MeToo moment we are living through where so many are coming forward with story after story of sexual exploitation, we are looking at ways to “double down” on our gender-lens and take it to the next level with a particular focus on funding the more intangible, slow work of bringing women and men together to heal and transform the deeper root attitudes, beliefs, and power dynamics of male social/sexual presumption which you vividly hearing in all of these heartbreaking and stunning #MeToo stories that have been “hidden in plain sight” in every sector of society.
If you are engaged in global development, you know that in too many places, it is all too normal for girls to be sexually preyed upon and “courted” by older men like Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein and have to just get up and go to school the next day. It turns out we here in the US are in the same patriarchal boat as the rest of the world. We may have progressed more in our stated values and ideals about gender equality than other places but in all too many settings, a harmful male sexual and social entitlement persists which makes girls and women particularly vulnerable to exploitation with little or no recourse.
As Lisa Sharon Harper explains in the recent launch of #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, “The problem exists in all of our churches and in our world because much of our world is one that, for millennia, has been steeped in the culture of patriarchy.” As a faith-inspired foundation, we know that a chief sanction today of gender imbalance and hierarchy is often from within our religious beliefs and traditions. Thus we know we have work to do to clean up the patriarchal rot under our own tree which feeds and enables the patriarchal sexual/social/spiritual presumption that you hear in so many of these #MeToo stories.
We are not exactly sure what this will look like in a programmatic sense but we want to start the year with a commitment to seize on this “kairos” moment to start a dialogue with you our partners and friends about what this might look like. Because these problems originate within our very hearts, minds, and from deep within the very fabric of our culture and faith traditions, to truly do right by the brave women and men who have come forward with #MeToo stories (and so many before them who are cheering them on from the grave) we need to take the time to soulfully engage in a deeper process of transformation under the base of the tree which we believe adds more “bang-for-the-buck” to any programmatic intervention in the work of global development and social justice.
We are grateful for people and organizations already engaged in this type of deeper gender reconciliation work and see so much potential on the horizon to ramp up and extend the reach of this work to make sure this #MeToo moment leads to long-term, sustainable change that is less prone to endless backlash and regression to turn a page on this most ancient of oppressions, one that underlines all others and one we’ve inherited from slavery-based imperial societies, which in myriad ways continues to say your kind exists to serve and submit and take a back seat to my kind…