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I'd now like to introduce someone who's trying to bring balance to these inequities. Kavita Ramdas has been the President and CEO for the Global Fund For Women since 1996. The purpose of her organization to award grants to women's groups based outside the United States that are working toward to address human rights issues. The Global Fund For Women's largest grant making organization in the world that focuses exclusively on international women's rights and is the only one of its kind in the United States. Since its creation in 1987, 24 million dollars has been given to 2,000 groups in 159 countries. Ms. Ramdas has received multiple awards including the Women of Substance Award from the African Women's Development Funds for her significant contribution to women's rights in Africa. The Juliette Gordon Low Award for her significant contributions to advancing women's human rights. Women and Philanthropy gave her the Leadership for Equity and Diversity Award for her championship and commitment to funding the Global Human Rights of Women and Girls. The League of Women Voters named her as one of the women who could be president and in 2004, KQED public television recognized her as a Bay Area local hero. Ms. Ramdas serves on the board of trustees of Mount Holyoke College. She's a member of the advisory council to the Ethical Globalization Initiative. She also serves on a council of advisers on gender equity to the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She earned her Master's Degree in International Development and public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and a B.A. At Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Kavita was born and raised in India and has been living in the Bay Area for quite a while now. And now please join me by warmly welcoming Kavita Ramdas. Good evening, namaste. So very nice to be here. Thank you Margot for that very wonderful introduction. It wasn't quite impressive as the one I had the other day. was speaking at Sonoma Academy up in Sonoma at a high school nd the high school student that was going to introduce me sat next to me and said, "So what were you like when you were in high school?" And I said that's a much better introduction. SO she found out all this great information and then introduced me as the person that got locked into a classroom with my boyfriend at an early age, um and who sang in a rock band. So you know, if you want to get a little bit of balance among all those fancy sounding awards, the real me is hidden in there somewhere. And I also just want to thank the World Affairs Council, I've been here before and spoken to audiences before, and the World Affairs Council has been a wonderful support of the Global Fund in many different ways. I'd like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers, but particularly Margot Welk and her colleagues at YWSE, which they are beyond their years, for inviting us to be apart of this event. And I'd like to take a minute o acknowledge my colleagues from the Global Fund for Women who are in the room so that afterwards if you have more questions than we can answer in the question and answer session, you know you can pinhole, button hole, whatever the word is other people in the room other than myself. So, I'd like to take a minute to acknowledge them and to recognize that none of the work in any organization is done by one person and these are incredibly important colleagues with whom I work everyday and feel very privileged to work with them. So starting on my left, Katka Kastnerova, program associate for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Caitlin Stanton who has worked in many different capacities at the Global Fund and is now development officer, helping us on the raising money end of our work. Lillian Cincone whose been at the Global Fund many years, just celebrated her thirteen anniversary at the Global Fund. Randy Trigg who is master in participatory design and we got to steal him away from Xerox. So, I'm really glad to have everyone here. Also here is a dear friend and someone who knows as much if not more than many of us do about many aspects of women's human rights, who many of you in the Bay Area, if you don't know, should get to know Yolanda Richardson from (unidentified). So Yolanda, if you don't mind standing up so people know who you are. (unidentified) does extraordinary work based in Washington D.C. to support women's, articularly women's reproductive health and rights and Yolanda is a wonderful colleague with whom we work on a regular basis. Entrepreneurship. I wanted to start with that because this is an invitation from the Young Women Entrepreneurs, Social Entrepreneurs. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I thought about that and I thought about the words that come to mind- to dream, to dare, to envision a different future, to challenge the way things are and to believe that you can contribute somehow to changing them and making them different and better. It means to have the courage to speak out when others are silent, to walk down roads people will say are closed to you because you are too young, too old, too White, too Black, too Asian, too Latina, a woman, a single mom, gay, unmarried, too married, childless, too many children, all of the above. It means to be willing to take risks. It means to let yourself be vulnerable, to share your most inner hopes and passions, to be willing to say you care, to be willing to get hurt, to fall down and to get up and do it all over again. And all of you who are in this room and who've done anything that you really care about, know that is what its about every single day and you do it again and again and again. The Global Fund for Women knows something about dreaming impossible dreams. It started because three women were sitting together over dinner talking about what would it take to have the women of the world have access to the financial resources they really needed to really make some of their dreams come true. To be able to change some of the statistics that you just heard. It started not because people thought it was easy, or it would result easily in a large amount of money being raised, but because three women decided they'd had quite enough of waiting for other people to do something about things that they really felt needed to get done. And when they thought about the women, the 15,000 women that they had seen gathered together in Nairobi two years before in 1985 who had done it on their own who had come and basically organized a parallel conference to the U.N. Conference for Women which was being held for governments in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985 and they saw that thousands of women's groups had gotten themselves there, to Nairobi, and had organized themselves into what was essentially an alternative forum for women's voices that was not their governments presenting the so-called accomplishments in the ten years of the first decade of women from 1975 to 1985. But literally thousands of grassroots women's organizations that dealt with women's injustice, deprivation and daily discrimination in many, many, many different ways. And for Frances Kissling and Laura Lederer who had been at the conference and Anne Firth Murray who had not been at the conference, but had spent ten years working for at the Hewlett Foundation, trying to explain that no matter how much you wanted to change the statistics on population growth in the world if that change did not include significantly transforming women's relationships in the home, women's power in the world, no matter how many condoms you distributed and no matter how many IUD's you inserted, you would not get the outcomes that you wanted to see because women would not have decision making authority over the most critical decisions in their lives. And the women in Nairobi were not just working on that ubiquitous tome, that I have now come to hold special loathing for, women's issues. I asked myself what issues would 51% of our world's population not assume are their business. Which ones? War, in which 75% of the casualties are women and children and in which women and children are the majority of the world's displaced people. Doesn't seem like that should be an issue that we shouldn't care about. Education, perhaps, something that we are denied on a regular basis, something in which we long for as an opportunity, that doesn't seems like one. Health, not when are biggest crisis are the biggest crises in the world today. So when somebody asks you, I work on women's issues, say maybe you work on a women's rights perspective, on all issues, on the right to have an opinion and to present an opinion and to be apart of decisions that affect us all. Not some small minority population, we are not a minority population, in fact if you heard 51%, if you heard it right, we are actually a majority population on this planet. We aren't treated like one though and the women who founded the Global Fund, who dared to dream the impossible dream, were quite acutely aware of it. They were quite acutely aware of the fact that the 15,000 women who had gathered in Nairobi had no access, or very little access to any kind of financial resources, had almost no access to any kind of power within the so-called philanthropic world and had extremely limited access to any kind of ability to influence or change or challenge that world in terms of being able to change the way in which money was distributed. So when they decided that there should be a fund for the world's women, and they said well, but we are, none of us are wealthy women, how would we start such a fund? And Frances Kissling looked at Anne and said, "Well wouldn't you give money for something like this? I would." And Anne said, "Absolutely. I would too". And Laura said "I would too." And they put five hundred dollars of their own money on the table and then they went out and did that very Silicon Valley kind of thing, which is sort of appropriate since they were based in Silicon Valley and found themselves some angel investors who 31 individual donors who were willing to give $5,000.00 each to start the Global Fund for Women, including some really interesting people who had started their own little start up some years ago called Bill Hewlett and David Packard who were kind of interested and intrigued at the idea of what I like to call now a kitchen start up. If garage start ups could change the world, why not a kitchen start up, maybe that would have something to offer. And they made a different decision about what this organization would be. Not only that it would be a resource for providing the kinds of funds that they saw were so essential for women who were making some extraordinary changes in their lives, but also to begin to turn the notion of philanthropy itself on its head. And I think that is an important, that was a very important piece of their work as well. Anne certainly, our founding president, had come out of, as I said, ten years of working in what we could describe as a fairly mainstream private foundation and recognized that many of the relationships in that world were relationships based on certain assumptions about philanthropy. Assumptions that you have to be really rich like Bill Gates or Nelson Rockefeller or Henry Ford to be able to give money away and here were three women who weren't very wealthy women, who were ready to think about what it meant to change that, change that dynamic and invite people in to be apart of this change. The values of the Global Fund were really important from the beginning. They began with a premise that women themselves know best how to solve the problems that they face in their communities. That's men, women, children, in their own communities not needing to wait for experts to fly in from far away with fancy degrees, but very little knowledge of the local circumstances to be able to give them advice on what worked in an economy very unlike the on they were working in, but actually listening to what women in their own communities were saying and when I looked at the values described on your website, on YWSE's website, it said, "We listen deeply,"and I think the process of listening deeply is one we could all benefit from a lot. Particularly now in todays world where we seem to have completely lost our ability to listen to one another and I think the Global Fund was very fortunate to have been given this value early on, that we listen and we learn from the women whom we hope to support in our work. We see women in their own communities as social entrepreneurs, as the people who are able to have these dreams, to envision a different future and who, not unlike entrepreneurs who are doing this for a profit, are also interested in a profit, are also interested in high yield returns. But the returns that they're talking about are social returns. The returns that they are talking about is a world in which a girl child who wasn't able to go to school is now able to go to school. The world in which they're talking about is a world in which water was not available in their communities and is now available freely in their communities, not bottled by some company that is selling it for a large profit. So there is a different kind of profit bottom line that is being discussed in these communities and I think that was something essential to the formation of the global fund for the very beginning. The third piece that I think also dovetails with some of the values that I saw described is that we value and enjoy process as much as product. And I think that often you'll hear almost sort of like a mantra at the Global Fund. The way we do our work is as important as what we do. Its not that we're perfect, we have hierarchy, we have power differentials, we have lots of discussions about what is diversity and are we really being a feminist organization, are we being true to our values, but i think we recognize that process is important and what it is you're trying to do can be really undermined if the way you do it is really contrary to what you are actually trying to achieve. So in some sense, trying to organize ourselves as both internally and externally always interacting to honor that kind of principle. What did that mean, some examples of that. It meant that after Anne, Frances and Laura, who were three women, Anne from New Zealand and Frances and Laura from the United States said wouldn't his be a great idea, they said, yeah but would women in the rest of the world think this is a great idea? And they immediately cornered Dame Nita Barrow the next morning, the Governor General of Barbados and someone who had played an incredibly important role in the women's movement internationally and said, "Nita is this something that you would be a part of?" And Nita said, "OK, let me get this straight, you want to start a women's fund in which you would give money directly to women's organizations to use as they see fit for their own purposes. "Yes, that's what we want to do." "And you want me to be a part of this fund?" "Yes, we're asking if you'd be a part of it." "Of course! That's something I can sign up for right away, but it has to be fund in which decision making about the grants, about who you're going to be giving money to is made in concert with the people you are supporting." So from the very beginning a decision that the Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women, our governance structure would reflect the women who we were serving. So two thirds of our Board of Directors, by mandate, are women activists from around the world, not from the United States, but from organizations and women who are leaders in their communities and other parts of the world. Another structural issue of how we do our work is as important as what we do: If we are trying to change philanthropy and if people tend to think that you have to be a multi-millionaire to give money away, then something about the way we do things should be different. What would be different about it? Could we envision a world in which you didn't actually have a name, an amount next to your name. You know all those categories, gold star, angel, you know rising sun, whatever the, you know you go to the opera and how you see all those different names... well Global Fund wasn't gonna do that. And why weren't we going to do that, because we realized that a little girl who sends us $10 from her Bat Mitzvah check is making a bigger stretch in many ways than a donor who writes us a $5,000 check, but who could easily have written us a $50,000 check. Or that the small group in Russia that sends us, from St. Petersburg, that sends us $40 every year from the domestic violence shelter because they were, they got their first grant from the women's, Global Fund for Women and want to be apart of also giving back to that program. That's a big stretch for them. And they shouldn't be on some category that's you know, $99 and under. Remember that category? We've all been in that category, remember that? Right, so you know, that's a small thing, but I can't tell you how many times, I mean every fundraising consultant who walks through our doors looks at us and goes, "You guys, this is the real problem, right here." And where like actually, I have to correct Margot's statistics, we've actually given away $47 million to over 3,000 women's groups in 162 countries all over the world. I think we know how to raise money. We're doing a pretty good job. That's an example, again of sort of walking your talk and I think those are the ways in which we've tried to hold the fact that we are two entities at the same time. We both raise money and we give it away and in some ways I think its put us in a wonderful position. We, like our grantees, know that its not easy to go to someone with your hands like this and say please Sir or please Ma'am, we'd like some more. But I think that as soon as you change that around and you realize that you are not asking for charity, you are asking people to participate in the most transformational change that you have a chance to be apart of in this century and the one before it. Then I think you start from a different proposition, you are actually sharing an incredible opportunity and you're asking people to be a part of this change. And you're not actually in a position of vulnerability, well you are because it hurts to be said no to, but the worst thing that could happen is someone could say no, I can't give you that money right now. That's ok, they might be able to give that money another time. Or you might meet somebody else who's able to give you that money. But I think, knowing you can have that experience of being in space is incredibly important and it's something that we know has made a big difference to the groups who we support because they know what it means to do this. Why do we do what we do? What is the payoff in investing in women? And I get asked this question all the time. I just wrote a piece for our blog that you should check out, you can go to our website at www.globalfundforwomen.org. The most recent blog piece is a piece about what's, what do men have to do with it. And the reason is people are always asking me, so why is it a Global Fund for Women, what about men, there are poor men too and what about poor men? And I think the way i like to do that is to first give the statistics that Margot gives. I won't go over those statistics. But just off the basis of need alone there's overwhelming evidence that a lot more needs to be done to sort of right that imbalance. But there's payoff. As Steve Merrill, investment banker who supported the Global Fund for a long time says, it's not just the nice or the just or the moral thing to do, its the smart thing to do. If a girl finishes elementary school her likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS drops by fifty percent, 5-0. When a woman can read at fifth grade level, her children are twice as likely to survive childhood. Huge numbers of children across the developing world die before the age of five. If all women had access to family planning information and basic contraception, it could avoid 52 million unintended pregnancies a year and save the lives of over half a million women. I mean we've talked a lot about genocides recently and I'd like to bring to your attention to the fact that every year, 500,000 women die from easily preventable causes, mainly in childbirth and a result of illegal, unsafe abortions. If this is not a genocide that we are silently watching going on day after day, if this was happening in any one country we'd been having save Darfur, but it's not happening in any one country, it's happening in every country, in every part of the world, in every religious tradition in every religious culture. Violence against women every year claims more lives of women between the ages of 15 and 44 than malaria, cancer and war combined. We are not talking here about some sort of incidental, small group of people. As I said in the beginning its 51% of the world's population, so if we actually wanted to do anything about the larger issues, whether its war, whether its environmental degradation, whether its disease control, whether its stability, seems like we forget Afghanistan really quickly once it's off the headlines. It wasn't an accident that gender apartheid was going on in a place that was also having all kinds of other problems as a failed state. So there are reasons to invest in women that are quite beyond like its the nice thing to do, or its the morally just thing to do. Its the only smart thing to do. If you would pay women a hundred cents on every dollar instead of seventy cents on the dollar, which is what women in the United States make, by the way, on the dollar. You could half the poverty rate in this country overnight, like that. You could bring that poverty rate down by half, so we have clearly a lot of good reasons for why investing in women makes a difference. I want to share two very short stories about, um, how I've seen that in our work. And there are so many good stories to tell at the Global Fund its a little hard to begin to know where you start, but i think just to give you a little bit of sense of the kind of people we see as social entrepreneurs and who you all can begin to get a sense of . Why that despite those terrifying statistics that I mentioned earlier that you heard from Margot, why it is that we have so much hope, because we're flooded everyday and every year with more than 3,000 requests from women all over the world who are constantly thinking about ways in which to challenge those realities who hav e great ideas about how they want to change their lives, their children's lives, their husbands lives. In Bolivia a group of Mayan women, um, I don't know, six years ago, wrote to us, dictated their letter of request to a Spanish speaking priest in their village because they only spoke (unidentified), sent us their grant application with five thumb prints at the bottom of their application form. They had a new school open in their village and their girls were going to school. But the mothers were writing to say we can't really support our girls, really support our girls if we don't know how to read and write ourselves. So we'd like to ask for a program to help us become literate so we can support our daughters to stay in school. They got a grant from the Global Fund and when we got their annual report, about two years it was two years or three years later, there were five very shaky signatures at the bottom. They had learned how to write their names and they were making progress in reading and writing. It doesn't cost a huge amount of money to do this. Most of the global fund grants are small. They range from as little as $500 to a maximum of $20,000. Money goes a long way in many countries. $40 pays for a girls education for a year in a school in Afghanistan. $250 helps the women's group in Egypt provide identification papers for women so they can be apart of the voting process. And so that they can have the card they need to access the food ration supply process. $1,000 helps allow a woman to purchase a plot of land in places like Cameroon. So the amounts of money that we consider to be relatively small, what is the equivalent of out latte everyday can go a huge way in making a change in the lives of people who we're able to support. I want to end with the story of Florence who is a fourteen year old, she's not fourteen anymore, but she was fourteen when i met her about seven years ago at the Global Fund. Florence was a school girl in Zimbabwe in a school in Harare. She and her friends had watched, with increasing horror as male teachers and other men in the schools sexually abused and harassed girl children in the schools. They had also watched as their friends dropped out of school because their parents were either afraid of what would happen to them or because girls would become pregnant while they were at school. All because girls simply didn't have access to something as simple as a toilet, most schools in Africa, Asia and in many parts of Latin America do not have adequate toilet facilities which means that girls drop out of school as soon as they get their period, for example. Because there is no place where they can do something as simple as change a tampon or a menstrual pad. Florence decided that this was a situation that was completely unacceptable and she and three of her friends went to a local teacher in the school who they trusted, Betty Together they started a small thing, a girls club, a safe place in the school where people could come, where girls could come, could talk to somebody, could tell them what had been happening, could talk to other girls to provide a sense of initially just a support group, but as they begin to hear what was happening Betty, the teacher in the school was determined to make these girls voices heard. She began to raise a stink with the school's authorities. The girls began to organize in other schools and tell their friends about it. Soon there were over a hundred schools in Zimbabwe and Florence and her friends and Betty and other teachers who supported this effort had 173 mile long national campaign across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe to raise awareness about sexual abuse in the schools against girls. The Girls Child Network, as it is called, is now one of Zimbabwe's success stories in a country where most of the time you only hear bad news about. They have done amazing things including, literally force (unidentified) government to pass a bill on sexual abuse in schools to protect and to bring charges and to enforce the law against perpetrators of sexual abuse in schools. These are things that give one a lot of hope. These are things that make one realize in the times that you think there couldn't possibly be any good news coming out of countries in which everything from the 900% inflation rates to the disintegration of government to the endemic of corruption makes you feel like you should give up and you realize that we can't give up. Florence didn't give up, her friends didn't give up. Who are we to sit in our comfort here in the United States and give up? We have absolutely no right to give up. To give up on Florence is to give up on the possibility of hope, is to give up on the possibility of change. Is to give up on the possibility of a tomorrow that could be really meaningful for all of us, girls and women, boys and men and I truly believe that with the kind of work that all of you do in this room, the kind of work that social entrepreneurs like Florence and the women in that Bolivian village are part of, we are making change and we have every, every reason to continue to dream that impossible dream. Thank you.