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Klara Kozlov

Head of Corporate Clients
Charities Aid Foundation

T: +44 (0) 3000 123 274
E: kkozlov@cafonline.org

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EMPOWERING WOMEN

COURAGE, LEADERSHIP AND GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION

Alongside hosting our own recent event on Empowering Women, in which we heard from some truly inspirational speakers, I have recently had the great opportunity to attend a number of conferences focused on empowering women such as the Thomson Reuters Trust Conference and Management Today Women in Business.

On a very personal level, during moments of listening, learning and self reflection, I’ve realised that this is a discussion that starts with our deepest values and principles; the ones that say the most about who we are and how we challenge ourselves about what equality really means in an unequal world. This can never be just a rational response; this is as much about what we believe is right as about what we learn is possible.

Central to this is a need to refute that what we inherit is what we will pass on. There is a need for us to believe that we are able to be transformative and rewrite the preordained rules of how power is distributed and decisions are made at an economic, social and psychological level.

 
There is a vital importance in bringing both men and women together to share knowledge, to broaden our perspectives, and to hear incredible stories told with a conviction that fuse hard evidence with the truly inspirational.

There are people in this world that bring the battle for gender equality to everything they do, everyday – such as the incredible Josephine Kulea in our Empowering Women event video.

We can celebrate the progress that we’re making; from greater transparency on pay in the UK to two thirds of countries in the developing regions having achieved gender parity in primary education. However, we’re acutely aware that more regressive trends are gaining fresh momentum across the globe. According to the World Bank Group 2016 report, in 100 economies worldwide women still face gender-based job restrictions with 46 economies having no laws specifically protecting women from domestic violence. Even in countries that pride themselves on progress, often poor implementation of policy means that the everyday reality for many girls and women does not live up to what is espoused in national and international law.

And this is why philanthropy is so vital. Developing and delivering funds to support on-the-ground organisations and programmes, that are committed to spreading best practice and ensuring laws that safeguard young girls and women are brought to life and embedded. Going beyond this, philanthropic programmes often support organisations to keep going despite entrenched resistance. A good example of this is one of our partners, the Avon Foundation, whose aim is to improve the lives of women globally and end domestic and gender violence against women. A key strategy for the foundation is to fund programmes which educate communities and to promote discussion around this topic, which in many communities is seen as strictly private. Breaking this cultural taboo and strengthening domestic violence laws are critical objectives of the “Speak Out” campaign.

But the funding only tells part of the story. With the funding comes an equally important message - that the issue of gender equality is important and it matters. It supports organisations not just to deliver impact but to encourage them to tell their powerful stories of positive change; such as the voice of Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan who is battling FGM by teaching girls to play football as part of Breaking the Silence. With the storytelling, there comes an understanding that this is a collective journey of human perseverance, self discovered dignity, laughter in the face of adversity and, most importantly, deepest empathy for each other.

At CAF, for the last 90 years we have safeguarded the movement of charitable funds around the world to help charities build resilience, develop infrastructure and create opportunities which act as a force for good. But we recognise that beyond giving, we all have a role to play in supporting civil society organisations and the spaces they try to create to drive change and tackle endemic issues. That, ultimately, momentum for systemic change starts with empowering the individual, then their community, then their voices; until it becomes so powerful that we are rewriting the story through policies, norms and behaviours and the world has a new narrative.

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