Barbara Dobkin: Invest in Women—with a Full Heart and a Full Wallet

Some philanthropists have told me that if you fund an organization for three years and it hasn’t become sustainable, it wasn’t worth the investment. Really? Those are the same people who provide capital to for-profit ventures and know that sustainability requires long-term investment. Some say that perhaps we no longer need these single-sex ventures. Look around and tell me, with everything we see happening inside and outside of the Jewish community, that these organizations are no longer relevant.

For decades I had faith that funding feminism—investing serious money into important ideas—would create transformative change. Indeed, many of those ideas became institutions that have far-reaching impact. I am not surprised by women’s accomplishments in spite of the woefully inadequate support they receive. Women have always needed to be resourceful. Right now there is an explosion of young, smart women in every sector of the Jewish community taking on leadership of these organizations with their visions and energy. We cannot afford to have these talented women become discouraged and burn out.

For too long, people in our community have relegated the job of funding women’s projects to women alone. The result has been a serious lack of support. Yet institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have proven that projects led by women and girls benefit everyone. Add to this the well-documented evidence which demonstrates that funding women creates positive change for our entire society, and you should be convinced, as I am, that the time has come for everyone to fund women.

Right now many organizational leaders and funders are reeling from discovering what many feminists always knew: that sexism is rooted deeply our communities and institutions. What feminists also know is that there are real solutions to the challenges we face. Let’s invest in them and do it not only with a full heart, but also with a full wallet. BARBARA DOBKIN in “Funding Women Creates Transformative Change,” eJewish Philanthropy, July 3, 2018.