The Feminization of Philanthropy
FS: How will women's new economic power redefine philanthropy in the 21st century?
AB: The most tangible change will be more attention to issues of livelihood and whose income is really supporting the advancement of households or families. You can't look at issues of poverty without really understanding and taking into account the role of women. Two-thirds of all people in poverty are women and girls.
The biggest shift will be more attention paid to helping households and communities to advance through making sure that women have greater opportunities. I'm talking about in the U.S., but the same holds true for overseas, as well.
If you want to reduce poverty, you have to look at the status, education and health of women. That doesn't mean you ignore men, but [this shift] will ensure that women are not invisible in the problem solving around issues of poverty and social justice.
FS: As donors/foundation heads, do women have different priorities than men?
AB: I reject the idea that women are biologically different from men [when it comes to philanthropic priorities]. It has everything to do with socialization. Women as leaders of philanthropy are not just by nature going to be worrying about women and girls. But they are socialized to pay attention in ways that men are not.
It's not so much priority setting [that is different]; it's the strategies used to make a difference. Men are interested in reducing poverty, too. If you improve the status of women, men and boys are likely going to benefit, too. But for so long, the role that women played in the family was only confined to their reproductive role, not their economic role. It's terribly important that men and women of good will try to understand that poverty reduction requires a gender lens.