Why A Single Narrative About the 19th Amendment Does Us All an Injustice​​​​​​​

The danger of a single narrow narrative for civil rights policy or legislation such as Title IX and suffrage expansion is that it diminishes the power that it can hold for millions of individuals.

Last year on July 26th, a major political party officially nominated a woman as their presidential candidate for the first time. Hillary Clinton, dressed in all white (a nod to the suffrage movement), accepted the nomination and made history. Accepting the nomination was far from the first step in women’s liberation. Rather it was a celebration of a long and calculated movement of determined women. And then the 2016 election happened.

Clinton’s nod to the suffragistswas a reminder of the history, pain, and work they put into passing the 19th amendment that must not be forgotten or glazed over as simply ”the right to vote”.  Similar to Title IX being seen as the “sports law”, the 19th amendment and the Education Amendments Act had broader goals for women and for society. Both laws represent so much more than they appear and learning more about their purpose and true intent can help lead us to further progress towards women’s equality.

In 1848, the suffrage movement began with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organizing the Seneca Falls Convention, inspired by their trip to an Anti-Slavery Convention. This was a coming together and a call for all women’s civil rights, even beyond voting. The official document, the Declaration of Sentiments, called for expansion and recognition of equal rights to women, including suffrage. Modeled after the Declaration of Independences, it shares qualities of the Equal Rights Amendment. The document stated that a woman was man’s equal, called for expansion of educational opportunities, and inclusion of women to all career fields. Ironically, during the convention, women’s suffrage was the only resolve that was not unanimously passed.

In the context of the legislative process and societal norms, activists and suffragists used the energy from this convention as a catalyst to lobby states to ratify a woman’s right to vote, which was a significant step in women’s emancipation. Twenty-one states had ratified this policy before the federal government passed the 19th Amendment for women’s suffrage in 1920. The 19th Amendment simply says: “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Though its meaning clear, this amendment did not allow for all women to vote. It wasn’t until 1947 that Native American women got the right to vote, in 1952 the policy began including Asian women, and finally, in 1965, the Voting Rights Act gave Black women the right vote.


Facebook's Women's Equality Day Image Last Year. A number of these women however did not have the right with the 19th Amendment.

Facebook's Women's Equality Day Image Last Year. A number of these women however did not have the right with the 19th Amendment.


As Evette Dionne noted in her piece “Women’s Suffrage Leaders Left Out Black Women” for Teen Vogue, “Black women publicly fought for their right to vote, and often. In her 1867 speech at the American Equal Rights Association, Sojourner Truth argued that giving black men the right to vote without affording black women the same right only promoted black men's dominance.” Acknowledging the full story and history of the 19th Amendment helps us see how much we have to do to achieve racial and gender justice collectively.

Much like the 19th Amendment and voting, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, goes beyond the sports label that it has been given. Passed in 1972, Title IX prohibits sex based discrimination in educational settings. While this expanded opportunities for athletics, it also prohibits discrimination against pregnant/parenting students, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, sexual harassment, and inequitable access to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and resources.

In June, Title IX celebrated its 45th anniversary, but only a few years ago did the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) focus on the STEM pillar or respond to the pleas of rape victims speaking up on college campuses. Finally, OCR is providing definitive instructions on how to apply Title IX to prosecute and end sexual assault in educational institutions. We must mobilize resources in support of all of the areas in which Title IX was intended.   

Equitable funding for women in schools through congressional legislation is much easier to implement than a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women. But the connections between the Declaration of Sentiments, Equal Rights Amendment, the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and Education Amendments Act can all be tangibly strung together by a movement with a clearly focused purpose; full equality and recognition of women in society.

In recognizing this history, we must expand the use of our language around Title IX and the 19th Amendment to open the door for institutional and policy change that women in the suffrage movement identified 160 years ago as their end goal. Beyond wearing white, let’s think of what might we all do to bring a movement for equal rights to fruition including protecting voting rights, particularly for communities of color. In 2020, perhaps a woman President will be able to channel Alice Paul’s spirit to get the final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment pushed through after 93 years of waiting for our due.  

 

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, was co-CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation. She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.

Jessica Avery works as the social media coordinator for Imagine Philanthropy. Having studied politics and gender studies at Mount Holyoke College, Jessica works on policy issues surrounding education, the environment, and women's rights and is a proud intersectional millennial feminist.

Degrading the Fearless Girl: Why People Lean on Misogyny for Progress

On May 29th 2017, an artist created and positioned a urinating dog, “Pissing Pug,” next to the “Fearless Girl” statue situated in front of the famous Wall Street “Charging Bull.” 

He said his goal was “spreading awareness about the corporate origins of the statue” and to highlight the negative aspects of Wall Street. A nod that we need to move away from the greedy origins of Wall Street and do away with these corporate types all together. 

Looking at the piece, I wonder: Why did this male artist wait for a female-commissioned piece of a little girl to make his statement? 

A dog, in a degrading act, towards a young girl is appalling, but it also speaks to a bigger issue in movement building. Misogyny, hatred towards women and/or girls, is common in movements because there is still a lack of understanding of intersectionality and how change can be created for the benefit of all, including the lived experiences of all. 

Let’s look at the history of both statues. State Street Corporation (which has a gender lens investing initiative) commissioned the “Fearless Girl” piece in honor of International Women’s Day, though it wasn’t a permanent fixture. There was much uproar around the statue. The Charging Bull’s creator expressed his dismay, as well as many people calling it an advertising ploy or feel good act for companies who exclude women. I was one of the people who saw this artwork as an amazing opportunity to open up the dialogue around the capital that women own as well as the fact that we need more women in financial boardrooms. 

In contrast, the Charging Bull was paid for by the artist and put up after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of the people’s strength and power. If that were truly the case, however, if that were truly a value we hold dear, the Fearless Girl would simply be an addition to that—a symbol of women’s strength and power to the investment industry that the bull has come to represent. 

According to a 2017 Catalyst report, women hold just 29 (5.8%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. A 2015 Morningstar report cited by The World Economic Forum found that women manage less than 2% of mutual fund assets and “nearly two thirds of the top 71 Silicon Valley venture capital funds have no senior female investment professionals, according to the Social & Capital Partnership. I could continue, but the picture is clear: Women are not part of the high level conversations around investments. The investment industry desperately needs women’s strength and power. 

A 2009 study from the Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy tells us that “women will inherit 70% of the money that gets passed down over the next two generations” (excludes the increasing amounts they earn on their own) and women already own more than half of the investable assets in the U.S. Our money is good enough to trade, make more money off, and reinvest, but adding us to the (white male) boy’s club is taking far too long. What’s the problem with “Pissing Pug?” Instead of addressing the real issues with Wall Street, it was easier for this artist to undermine art that is speaking to millions and helping to bring about important changes in a male-dominated industry. Women should not be used as a prop to push an agenda. They should be a critical part of the conversation and be driving the conversation. Like the system or not, we have every right to it and a say in where our money is going and what’s been done with it. 

Many companies and initiatives, such as Pax Ellevate FundEquileapEconomic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) or State Street’s Gender Diversity ETF, are changing the narrative about women, leadership and investing. If we continue to dismiss women leaders or push women aside, which the dog statue undoubtedly does, no true change can occur with how, where, and to whom our money goes.

Identity: Try and Dismiss It

This rhythmic rant was originally written after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.  At the time, it felt too raw to publish then, but in light of the Gavin Grimm case, Texas gender inequality bills, Governors and Judges who are homophobic and many other LGBTQIA dismissals and injustices, I no longer have the privilege to stay silent. 

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How can being gay be compared to fear of flying or spiders or crowds?  There is no phobia of gays and lesbians any more – there is only ignorance, self-loathing and fear. 

I am from despair to righteousness swearing quietly to complacent privileged people.  I am from claiming space and truth.  I have marched for rights for women, for access to sport, for our right to choose, for our right to love.  I have given money for and to women leaders, been in the trenches working on behalf of women athletes.  I am from an activist mother who brought forth these skills.   

I am from the particles that make up the bed I lie on as well as every idea and word that collides inside my body and mind.  I am from atoms – free flowing energy and movement.  I am from protons and neutrons. 

My mind lives throughout my body hammering inside my heart, whimpering in my belly and starch drying my womb.  I push and pull the particles depending on the wind, levels of self-compassion and the biochemistry of the day.  A chemstrip is dipped into my chest like a chlorine pool test measuring my systems of hardness, alkalinity, and today, my sugars and testosterone.  I am from lowered estrogen and highly elevated provocative words and acts.

My journey has included a stop or two to reboot my heart and reset my rhythm, flatten my chest, clear ugly growths and tighten up my knee.  All of my particles are moving now – fully alert and radicalized.  I wonder why my protons are so sensitive to violence and hate?  Why do my particles crave tenderness and kindness?  There are others who use the quantum physics of their atoms to hurt, violate and even kill.  Who or what rearranged their innocent baby minds from affluence, love and potential to fear, anger and despair? 

I am from the gay rights movement of the 80’s and 90’s – AIDS and siloed thinking and work.  I am the daughter of Susan.  I chose my own name Tuti at age 5 --- it means we all play together.  Fitting for this intersectional humanist/feminist.  My atoms have been complacent as they hyper focused on healing for a decade.  Now they make up the design of a test strip to mark levels of sexism in a person’s psyche.  The marker on my chem strip is dark red and bloody mad. 

I am the daughter and granddaughter of artists and teachers – why wouldn’t my genes have cell memory of the themes of uprising?  My epigenetic being is so tired of the lack of love and lack of acceptance, tired of bias and bigotry, tired of people’s rush to judge, tired of laws written because people have a ‘phobia’ of who I love, tired of people who hurt and threaten ‘other’. 

I am from dumpsters of kindness and righteous hope standing proudly with dignity.  When they put the chemstrip into my heart to test my levels today, they will find that balance and serenity have silenced any opposition.  I am a spiritual being having a human experience.   My atoms recognize their affinity with atoms in my fellow marginalized beings. I am the belief in attracting strong, powerful allies who will step out of their privilege and speak up for us.  Join me.

Jennifer Buffett: Concepts Worth Sharing

In 2011, I wrote this piece about Jennifer Buffett and her foundation, NoVo. Five years later, the organization improves women and girls’ lives through a variety of initiatives that support marginalized and oppressed women in girls in indigenous communities and communities of color. A few examples are NoVo’s development of a farm to table program for urban food deserts in New York City, impact in policies that addresses sex trafficking, and organization of spaces where indigenous women take the main seat at the table. Additionally, NoVo recently announced a $90 million dollar investment to expand the academic opportunities of girls, while also ensuring the safety of girls as they go to school. In reflection, this piece demonstrates the actions that organizations and individuals can take to grow and flourish. Because with that, even more individuals can be lifted and flourish.

Jennifer Buffett will change the world. You may not know her now, but when all is said and done I believe she will own the title, The First Lady of Women’s Social Change Philanthropy.  Jennifer is the life size symbol of NoVo – to alter, invent.  The NoVo Foundation she created with her husband Peter is based on the premise that if you give a girl an opportunity, she will become a successful woman who will in turn create successful communities, businesses, and families. Jennifer’s story is just that.

After deep examination of the focus of their philanthropy and a personal examination of her own expression of her values and influence, Jennifer is speaking around the world sharing her personal story and experiences. She and her husband Peter spent years examining the interrelation between systems, culture, and relationships to determine place of impact and opportunity for change before launching the largest foundation serving women and girls, the NoVo Foundation.   Jennifer has incredible perspective to offer activists, social change drivers, and philanthropists and after hearing her recently, I distilled these ten concepts that are worth sharing; 

  1. Look at the roots of the problems, examine patterns and themes and find the programs and the stories that rule the world and which ones make sense. When dealing with our indigenous women and girls’ program, it was imperative to look at the impact that colonialization and government intervention had on the community. Once this history is recognized and processed with the community, take stories and experiences to create create strategies for change.
  2. Acknowledge two conflicting truths:  1. Girls and women are the primary drivers of change.  2. Cultural attitudes and systems put girls in a vicious cycle; blaming them and affirming that they are not valued.   The girl effect demonstrates that if you invest in a girl, her family thrives, she contributes to her community, and eventually her country succeeds.
  3. Invest in places where value is held and not yet recognized.  Note: there are 600 million adolescent girls living in the developing world who are currently ‘undervalued assets’.
  4. Value balance and partnership and affirm feminine values. This is particularly important for our “Promoting Local Living Economies” initiative. Often times, skills women possess are feminized and hold no economic value. Creating value for these skills deconstructs the position of female work and gives women the income they deserve from this work. Additionally, sustainable local economies just ignite larger economic opportunities as capital and products are developed.
  5. Encourage women to use their voice, say what is want and needed, take credit, and invite men to join as equal partners and co-creators. The oppressor must claim responsibility and step back in their positions of power and privilege. NoVo paired with A CALL TO MEN to invite and encourage men to recognize their role in dismantling oppression of women and girls. We called on them to create solutions to problems such as violence against women.
  6. As a woman, choose to be seen and heard and work to change the course of the boat named Earth Community. 
  7. Improve gender dynamics by recognizing that the qualities in the masculine ‘toolbox’ - force, hierarchy, punitive, and a focus on head not heart - are learned, normalized, and internalized. 
  8. Honor and showcase the characteristics found in the feminine toolbox; listening, connectedness, experiential learning, honoring innate cycles and rhythms, and wholeness. 
  9. Establish learning environments that allow for inquiry and participation. Our “Advancing Social and Emotional Learning” initiative draws on the feminized characteristics (empathy, deep connections, etc.) that women often are demeaned for in society and academia. Normalizing these feminized actions in these spaces and applying them to both genders creates a more comprehensive education and stronger communities. Additionally, it breaks down the gendered stigma around behaviors and emotion.
  10. As conduits of feminine energies, allow the most precious qualities of clarity, strength, knowing and vulnerability of yourself to come into full light. 

10 Tips for Relationship Building

Whether you are running your own nonprofit, building a sports program or starting a new business, here are my suggested “Top Ten Methods for Success”. Please note that these are in no particular order although I personally value 1‐4 in people I work with! Success will come sooner when all are done well and consistently. 

  1. Grow and Engage with Your Contact List – ask your mentors and friends who they know that can help you with your product, plan, or passions. Keep in regular contact with key people and ask how you can help them. People are more apt to assist you later when you have offered aid for their projects/lives. Volunteer to be on committees or to help others. Send out meaningful updates and stories of your work on a quarterly basis. Identify key skills, supports and/or tangible donations you need and ask people who they know that could help you. Think now about who is on your ‘holiday card’ list.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  2. Ask Questions and Follow Through – in every communication, be mindful of how often you share your perspective versus asking what is happening in the supporter’s life and how they feel about what you are doing. Ask for money and get advice; ask for advice and get money. Asking for input and authentically inquiring about a person’s work, home or passions is key to building strong relationships. By listening, listening, and listening to what is said and not said, you can follow through with personalized and meaningful information. If you do this, people will ask you how they can help you. Then you can share with them the resources needed by your organization.                     

  3. Bring Forth a Strong Work Ethic – people invest in leaders who they see are ‘hungry’ and work for success. When they can see your persistence and authentic belief in what you are doing, followed up with personalized notes and/or customized partnership proposals, they are more apt to support you. Impeccable attention to detail with your work and sequential and coordinated engagement (meet with top contributors 2 times / year, e‐mail them monthly, call them quarterly, etc) with key supporters will deliver better results.                              

  4. Believe and Act in Partnership – if you are truly listening and engaged with someone, you will hear what their dreams and desires are. At the same time, they will hear yours. By asking for people to partner with you on your dreams, know that this will be easiest when you genuinely want to build theirs too. Know that this philosophy can be applied to co‐workers, investors, boosters, athletes you coach, etc.   

  5. Utilize Gifts / Sales to Secure More Funds– whenever a gift is secured or asked for, work with the supporter to ask how public they will let you be with their gift. Often their gift will allow you to seek a match or create a challenge for others, thereby doubling or tripling their investment. Always think in terms of a gift rate chart and share this with supporters (i.e. we need 10 gifts at $10,000 or $100,000 to do this project) even if you know the supporter can give you the entire amount. Ideally, you want them to give you the names of nine others who can help and the $100,000. Minimally, get permission to publicize the story of the gift with or without their name attached as people want to give to success.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

  6.  Build a Circle of Leaders and Experts – whether it is a nonprofit Board or Advisory Council to build your league, business or team, a trusted group of advisors from a variety of key fields (finance, legal, digital marketing, communications) will be critical for success. Be sure to give each person a specific request for help or assignment that the volunteer agrees is a way they want to engage. People want a way to use their talents and that also is considerate and efficient use of their time.                                                                                                                        

  7.  Focus Time on the Top 20% most nonprofits are funded with 80% of the money coming from 20% of the donors. Spending time and building trust and rapport with this top 20% should take 80% of your time. Their relationships, interests, businesses, and values will inevitably lead you to their peer group(s) over time.                                                                                                                                                                                             

  8. Build a List of Benefits for Exchange – prior to going into the marketplace for underwriters, compile a list of benefits that your business/nonprofit can offer in exchange for ‘sponsorship’. With a menu of opportunities for partnership, you can then customize a relationship that is meaningful. Never overlook the opportunity to provide something of value that ‘can’t be bought’ (i.e., an autograph item from a sports legend or behind the scenes experience with a leader or coach).                                                                                                                       

  9. Mimic Large Institution Practices to Build Brandanalyze the tools used by colleges and universities and model them where appropriate. Invite leadership (deans, coaches or top thought leaders) to speak at events or hosted parties (in campus settings or esteemed private homes) to engage with key audiences (alumnae lists or people profiled via technology sources on income or affinity) on a relevant topic. Know that all significantly funded organizations have people designated to doing research on prospects and donors and their ability to give and that in order to be mindful of their entire giving focus and life passions, this is absolutely essential.                                   

  10. Build Visibility via Technologyutilize new media to tell your story and make timely updates to your mission and team/product’s contributions to the community and society. Continually review your web site to insure relevant information is present. Think of your web site as your living room and you are inviting your investors to dinner. With this practice, you will have an impressive, elegant and impeccable first response by any web visitor. Master the art of storytelling on your web site and in web communications as an essential element in asking for involvement and gifts. 

Broader Thinking on Family Economic Security

After having the privilege of being part of several meetings with leaders in the field of economic security for families, I learned that this work has many viewpoints and challenges. This summary attempts to capture the breadth of opportunity for broadening the conversation of family economic security. 

Overall, the key components that encompass family economic security (FES) are identified as fulfillment of primary needs such as food and shelter, access to a health care system that serves both one’s self and family, ability to enter and navigate in a variety of markets (financial, employment, social capital) and opportunity for career advancement/education that is relevant to workforce success. 

Generally speaking, family economic security seems to have a qualitative texture for impacted individuals and practitioners working directly with them, and a more quantitative and numerically positioned flavor when policy people define it. Framing the conversation in poverty language versus economics language or referring to families versus systems also may bring forth differing perspectives. 

In a qualitative sense, FES success would be defined by a family staying together (children not placed in foster care), free from violence and addiction, and living with dignity and respect. True success would be a break in the generational transference of low‐income standing. Assessing success could also hinge on an individual’s having social capital and networks that offer varying choices and opportunities for work and learning opportunities. Finally, success could be seeing fewer disparities around income and education when looking across class, gender or race. 

Quantitatively, the metrics rely on index tools that have been developed to look at either what it takes to get and stay in the middle class on a continuum based on five economic factors, or measuring and benchmarking expenses based on a self sufficiency standard in their state (see Wider Opportunities for Women). These measures may or may not be universally acceptable as there seems to be a divide as to whether self sufficiency would be determined with or without public supports. Regardless of how it is measured, there is considerable demand for better government data to analyze. 

Sustained security is founded in the tools of early education and ‘talent development,’ literacy, relevant career training for ‘entry level’ workers, lifelong education around financial decisions and markets, and access to quality jobs that offer standards such as health care, paid sick leave, retirement, etc. Most people working in FES policy and/or programmatic delivery of any of these tools agree that we need to take a holistic approach (versus staying in silos), and that this alone will allow for a faster ‘movement’ towards the self‐sufficiency of low‐income families. 

Addressing the issues surrounding “asset‐based poverty” and debt is critical for FES success. Campaigns focused on predatory lending need to be offset with elevating the visibility of free opportunities for moving towards financial independence that are often provided by community based organizations. Providing practical learning experiences focused on financial decision‐making is happening in various Community Development Financial Institutions. Identifying, and elevating the role of entrepreneurs is also important as people often need ’to see it to be it.’

What I Would Tell My 18-year-old Self

In the fall of 1980, as I left New Hampshire to go to Ithaca College in upstate New York, one of a handful of students in my class who would leave the state for college and the first of my siblings to pursue a four year degree, I wish I had the certainty to have known the following:

  1. That deeply loving women and being a lesbian is a magical, powerful, loving, brave, acceptable way of being in the world no matter what anyone says to you or how isolating it may feel at times.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. That the love you have for basketball, competing and being the coach on the floor will place you in settings you could never dream of to promote women athletes as leaders and to help shape the women’s sports movement.                                                                                                                        
  3. That owning your confidence as a ‘spiritual jock’ and a coach will drive your success in board rooms, as an entrepreneur, a leader, a partner and as a speaker for and about equity, gender and money.                                                                                                                                                                       
  4. That keeping a journal and writing your goals, prayers and ideas down is a healing activity for a busy, bold mind and will guide your success in unknown ways.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  5. That having a spiritual practice of moving your body, meditating and being in nature may not seem ‘normal’ but who cares; it will serve you through the deaths of your parents and loved ones, many health challenges and other unimaginable losses and heartaches that come your way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  6. That learning happens with real time exposure to people, conversations, countries and challenges.  Books, degrees and good grades are important but real life lessons will be found when you get out and share your authentic curiosity and explore new arenas.                                          
  7. That unconditional giving and being generous and compassionate with others leads to sustainable happiness and immense self-satisfaction.