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Increasing Dollars for Domestic Violence: How Companies Can Do Right for Women and Girls

Written by Loribeth Weinstein for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

As corporations expand their philanthropic giving, an epidemic that affects millions of American women is being pushed further out of sight. Domestic violence threatens the security of entire families and communities -- and all too often costs women their safety and their lives. The economic toll exacted by domestic abuse on our social service systems, workplaces, and on law enforcement is in the billions. Yet less than one percent of company-sponsored foundations currently registered with the Foundation Center even list domestic violence as a field of interest.

This is shameful: Charitable and corporate foundations must acknowledge and act to confront domestic violence. With their economic clout, they are ideally positioned to fund life-saving domestic violence services, underwrite public awareness and prevention campaigns, and create in-house policies for their own employees who are experiencing abuse.

The numbers are staggering: One in four women in the U.S. experiences domestic violence in her lifetime; young women ages 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk. And nearly 75 percent of all Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim. Domestic violence advocates and lawmakers have partnered for decades to boost both education and federal funding to combat abuse -- most notably through the Violence Against Women Act -- but public resources alone are not enough. Company-sponsored foundations, with the capacity to give millions of dollars annually, are conspicuously absent.

Company-sponsored foundations target their philanthropic dollars at the "the issues that their consumers care about most." It's a policy that begs the question: Are the industries that target women heavily –beauty, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and food – actually giving back to the issues that most affect their female consumers? 

 

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