On Friday, the White House’s Council on Women and Girls hosted a day-long summit focused on advancing equity and elevating the status of women and girls in the United States. The Summit also served as a venue for institutions to announce new initiatives focusing on women and girls. Unlike the previously announced My Brother’s Keeper program, the initiatives unveiled on Friday are not public-private partnerships and will receive no funding or resources from the Obama Administration.
MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry, the director of the Anna Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, led the event and was joined by expert panelists including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Cecilia Muñoz of the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Ms. Foundation’s Teresa Younger. The summit introduced key strategies for addressing inequity experienced by women and girls of color. Women and girls from around the world joined the conversation via social media using the hashtag #YesSheCan.
At the event, the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research—a coalition of American colleges, universities, and research organizations led by Wake Forest University—announced an $18 million funding commitment to support research efforts about women and girls of color. The coalition currently comprises 24 institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh, Columbia University, Harvard University, Bennett College, and Howard University School of Divinity.
Prosperity Together, a project of the Women’s Funding Network—a group of public U.S.-based women’s foundations committed to investing in women’s economic security—also announced a five-year, $100 million funding initiative to increase economic opportunities for low-income women.
In 2014, the Obama Administration created the My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce, which has attracted over $300 million in funding, and an additional $85 million for its non-profit spinoff. The total for the new private initiative for women and girls is only $118 million and does not come with any White House infrastructure like the aforementioned Taskforce.
My Brother’s Keeper has received criticism for failing to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by their female peers. Studies show girls of color experience a disproportionately higher rate of school suspensions than their white counterparts, comprise 32 percent of juvenile arrests and detentions and remain more than twice as likely to become pregnant as teens as young white women.
Media Resources: Time 11/10/15, The White House Press Release 11/13/15; Washington Post 7/21/14; Chronicle of Philanthropy 5/4/15