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Women's rights protest, Oct. 1, 2016.
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Girls & Women

This New Coalition Is Using Millions of Dollars to Fight Sexual Harassment


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Encouraging gender equality in the workplace ensures that women can work in safe, equitable environments. Fighting against sexual assault helps to combat sexism and inequality around the world. You can help advocate for gender equality by taking action here.

After the #MeToo movement raised worldwide awareness about workplace sexual harassment and assault, multiple social justice foundations have joined together to create a fund to help reduce gender-based violence.

The fund, tentatively named the Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (CFWSD), already collected $20 million before it launched on Thursday to help fight gender inequality and combat sexual harassment and assault.

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“This fund is inspired by the tireless and brave women who are doing transformative work to end violence against all girls and women yet have been under-resourced for far too long. We’re proud to partner with other funders to help ensure their work has the sustained support it deserves and needs to thrive,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation, which is one of the fund’s partners.

The fund was created after a group challenged US philanthropic organizations last October to give $300 million to combat sexual violence and workplace harassment over the next year.

Less than 2% of foundation funds in the US are allocated toward curbing gender-based violence, according to the CFWSD’s press release. However, the new group is hoping improve funding targets and make the issue more visible. 

So far, 11 partners have signed on to contribute to the initiative, including the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Kapor Center, Unbound Philanthropy, and CBS.

CBS came under fire in September after its former CEO Les Moonves was forced to leave the network after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him. Money he was due to receive as part of an exit package has now been allocated toward the CFWSD.

The fund will mostly focus on gender issues within the US but plans to expand on an international level are taking shape, guided global partners. Marginalized groups are at particular risk of experiencing gender-based violence and discrimination. For example, Native Americans are victims of sexual assault and rape at a rate that is 3.5 times higher than women of any other race in the US.

Read More: A Year Later, #MeToo Is Still Finding Fresh Battlefields Worldwide

“What’s different about this fund is that it’s driven by believing in and supporting solutions that come from the lived experiences of the most marginalized women,” said Freada Kapor Klein, co-chair of the Kapor Center which is a partner of the fund. “Women of color face staggeringly disproportionate levels of bias and harassment that limit their access, opportunities, and outcomes to full participation in their workplaces and society.” 

Because of this, the fund particularly hopes to help women of color, low-income women, migrants, and women within the LGBTQ community. The group plans to advocate for these issues while also supporting leaders within these communities, according to its statement.

Read More: Why the Fight for Women's Rights Must Include Women of Color

“Sexual violence impacts all women, but the damage is compounded for women who are made vulnerable by our immigration system, by economic exploitation, and by structural racism,” said Taryn Higashi, executive director of Unbound Philanthropy, which is a partner to the fund. “We are committed to resourcing an inclusive movement to end gender-based violence, towards our vision of a vibrant, welcoming society where we all can flourish; we uphold human dignity; value our diversity; and embrace our common humanity.”

The fund plans to allocate at least $5 million a year for the next five years to fighting against gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

“Whether in a company with thousands of employees or in a workplace of one in someone’s home, women should be able to work with safety, equality, dignity, and fairness,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center. “To effect lasting change to end sexual violence, we need to build one movement, where advocates, policymakers, and philanthropists are following the lead of survivors, and this fund is a huge step toward making that a reality.”