IN FOCUS6-8 min read

Practical Philanthropy: The gender lens with Rebecca Gill

In our latest episode, we hear from Rebecca Gill who founded Rosa, a UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women.

09/01/2024
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Authors

Lyn Tomlinson
Head of Impact and Philanthropy

In episode six of Practical Philanthropy our Head of Impact, Lyn Tomlinson, speaks with Rebecca Gill from ROSA – a charity working to deliver equitable and participatory grant-making for specialist organisations led by and for women and girls.

They shine a light on the challenges faced by the female population – spanning maternal health, equal pay, reproductive rights, and access to support services. With less than 2% of charitable grants going to women-led organisations, they discuss the need for more dedicated funding to address these specific needs. With philanthropic giving and collaboration, together, we have the potential to create positive change and play a pivotal role in achieving gender equality, supporting and empowering women.

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The views expressed in the podcast and transcript below are those of the speakers and not those of Cazenove Capital. This podcast is intended for information purposes only and should not be deemed to constitute the provision of professional advice in any way.

About ROSA

ROSA is the only funder in the UK dedicated solely to funding women and girls organizations. They design grants programs based on the needs of the sector and provide funding, support, and resources to strengthen these organizations. ROSA also focuses on research and evidence building to raise awareness and secure more funding for the women and girls sector.

References in the podcast

Below is a transcript of Lyn Tomlinson and Rebecca Gill's conversation. 

Lyn Tomlinson: Intro

This is episode six of Practical Philanthropy with me, Lyn Tomlinson, Head of Impact at Cazenove Capital. If you have listened to our other episodes, then a huge thank you and a very warm welcome back. If this is your first episode, then this is the podcast that exists to bring the deep knowledge and expertise of underfunded areas of philanthropy to the surface, to share learning and encourage and foster collaboration. In this episode, I bring you a conversation with Rebecca Gill, the awesome CEO of ROSA, the foundation for women and girls. Together we explore the extent of inequality for women and girls here in the UK. To describe Rebecca as an expert would be a disservice. She brings to our conversation a lifetime of dedication and passion for improving women and girls' lives. ROSA, under her leadership, has mapped the entire women and girls sector in the UK. The outcome of this sector mapping is eye opening and really, really not in a positive way. We've highlighted on this podcast the challenges that face small charities. But ROSA's work shines a light into a sector that is so small, it is almost invisible. At the same time, these organisations are delivering the most complex work, working with people with really complex needs and even changing the law.

As a sector, women and girls organisations receive less than 2% of funding in the UK but what they do with that funding, as you will hear, is nothing short of remarkable. So we've covered some difficult areas in this season of practical philanthropy, from humanitarian giving to funding peaceful nonviolent protests- but I wanted to share that this episode contains discussions which reference some upsetting subjects and which can be triggering for some people, such as violence against women and girls. So, listener discretion is advised. But let's get to today's episode with our voice from the front line, Rebecca Gill.

Lyn Tomlinson

Wonderful. Right, so, are you happy to get going?

Rebecca Gill

Yeah, let's give it a go. Yeah.

Lyn Tomlinson

Brilliant. I will say, thank you so much, Rebecca, for coming on practical philanthropy today. So, you're the CEO of ROSA, and ROSA is a grant making foundation which is focused on raising awareness and campaigning for issues that affect women and girls. And importantly, you fund only women led organisations. So can you tell us a little bit about the work you do, Rebecca, and what women led organisations are?

Rebecca Gill

Yeah, so we're the only funder in the UK that's dedicated solely to funding women and girls organisations and we're very proud of the work that we do and we run grants and programmes that we have designed based on the needs of the women and girls sector. So through our work with those organisations, we've identified areas where they need to be strengthened and we're a fundraising grant maker. So all the money that we invest in organisations, we have to raise, we're not an endowed fund, and so we do our grant making. We also focus on strengthening the sector and strengthening women and girls organisations so we give organisations grants, but we also run free support for women and girls organisations where they can develop themselves. And the other area of our focus is around research and evidence building, so we can use our voice to get more awareness and funding to the women and girls sector.

Lyn Tomlinson

That's brilliant. And can you just tell us a little bit why it's so important to support women led organisations and specifically what women led organisations are?

Rebecca Gill

Yes. So women led organisations are organisations where the majority of the trustees and the majority of the senior leadership team are women and their charitable objectives or the objectives of their community interest company are for the benefit of women and girls. And we use that definition and we don't fund anybody else. And we do that work because we know that if you look at any point in history, across the United Kingdom, every single progress in law, culture and practise, which have benefited women and girls has been won by women for women. And that's why we invest in that sector. Women organising women building organisations to progress and to steward change and progress has been absolutely critical to the success of women's lives in this country and actually around the globe.

Lyn Tomlinson

And the one that immediately springs to mind is the Suffragette movement, of course. But have you got any other examples that you could give us?

Rebecca Gill

Yeah, you can go back to earlier than the Suffragettes. You can look at the work of Elizabeth Fry, who talked about women prisoners and campaigned with other women to support women prisoners, right through to the Suffragettes and the Suffragists. And obviously Millicent Fawcett was a founder with the Fawcett Society. But along through the whole of the 20th century, where you had so many progressive organisations established- I think of Southall Black Sisters, which was established in the 1980s to support black and minoritized women with individual direct support, but also advocacy and campaigning to change the law for those women and girls. And there are examples across the country, all four nations, of women's refuge and thinking about women who set up refuge and how many incredible pieces of work and organisations were developed as a result of those individual women coming together, organising to create change for individual women, but actually change in the law and in service delivery for women and girls who are fleeing domestic violence.

Lyn Tomlinson

And that's quite interesting, just in terms of that, because when you think of charity and philanthropy, particularly when you're thinking about a gender focus, I think what immediately springs to everyone's minds is what you've just mentioned there, which is women refugees and women and children fleeing domestic violence. But that's just really the tip of the iceberg, isn't it, when it comes to the challenges that women and girls face. So could you just talk us through and give us a sense of the breadth and the scale of the issues that both women are facing and also the areas that you're funding?

Rebecca Gill

Yeah. So we're very proud at ROSA that we fund women and girls organisations, essentially from cradle to grave. So we fund some organisations that are working with new mothers to support their babies. Maybe it's through baby banks and food programmes, but we also fund a lot of girls empowerment programmes. That could be something like Girls Rise Up, which does campaigning and activity with girls to support them to be more confident. There's a programme out in Gateshead, the Young Women's Project, which, again, is working with girls with complex needs to support them to advocate for their own rights and that's a really important part of that work. A lot of work on maternal health and reproductive rights all over the country, through to women campaigning around women's pensions, equal pay, rights at work. And then we fund women's centres as well, around the country and these centres are physical spaces where women can go to get advice and support and network and connections. Some of them run after school clubs, they'll run support for women who might have no other support in their lives. We've got one up, and I'm thinking about one up in the granby Somali Women's Centre up in Liverpool, where they do a lot of work on sitting on the phone to the gas companies and the water companies to support women who may not have English as a first language, who may not be educated to a very high level, who can't necessarily advocate for themselves and their gas bills are going up.

Rebecca Gill

The cost of living crisis is having this immense impact on women across the country. And these women's centres are places where they can go to get food, to get one meal a day for their families, to get after school support and during school support and to get support for themselves. It can feel quite hard to describe, actually, sometimes it can feel a bit nebulous. But those organisations can be the difference between women surviving and women thriving and in some situations, between life and death for women, and that is not an exaggeration, these organisations are offering life saving support.

Lyn Tomlinson

And you talked about the cultural aspect there, so could you just talk a little bit more about that, because the UK is obviously such a diverse culture, but that presumably brings with it its own challenges. You mentioned the issues around sort of language etc., but could you just talk to us about the funding that you're doing around that sort of area?

Rebecca Gill

Yeah. So what we know from our own work is that organisations, particularly that are led by and for black and minoritized women and girls, receive less funding than those that are what we'd call 'race neutral' or led by white women. And so we set up the Rise Fund, where we were able to raise a million pounds to invest in small black led women's organisations and we supported them with grants and we did this because what we heard from those organisations is they were really, really struggling with a massive increase in demand for services and advocacy, but the rising cost of living was making the issues that the women they were working with much more complex. So you've got this kind of perfect storm of women needing more support, but charities not necessarily getting more funding, so they were having to do so much more with less. We've been able to fund some organisations where we know, based on what they've told us, that we are the difference between them surviving and closing. But we heard earlier last week from an organisation where, as a result of the grant they got through the Rise Fund, they were then able to raise other funds from other funders.

Rebecca Gill

And one of them has just to secured their first lottery grant of 200,000 pounds and they were very clear that without our funding, they would not have been able to do that. And that's what we exist to do- we really trust these organisations, we really invest in these organisations to enable them to go to other funders that might not be as close to the work that they do-  want to fund them, but wouldn't necessarily fund their core or their chief executive or fund a fundraiser or something. That's what we do and we exist to enable them to get other money in.

Lyn Tomlinson

That's brilliant. And can we go a little bit deeper into the lack of funding for the sector for a moment? Because one of the reasons that we started this podcast was to bring underfunded areas to people's attention and awareness because I think 10% of charities get 90% of the funding, don't they, in the UK? And they're typically the larger charities. And you've done an amazing piece of research of mapping the sector in terms of where money is actually going and so I just wondered if you could enlighten us a little bit about what you found from that research and what the state of funding for women led organisations are?

Rebecca Gill

Yeah, it was a really shocking piece of research, actually, because we knew, speaking to women's organisations and we knew, speaking to funders, that there was this kind of disconnect where funders were saying, we are funding the women and girls sector, and women and girls organisations were saying, we can't get any money. We sort of felt there was this grey space where we had to find out what was going on so we worked in partnership with National Lottery and with Esme Fairburn to commission Sheffield Hallam University to do this research for us. And what we found was that less than 2%, 1.8%, of all charitable grants are go to women and girls organisations, and the average grant is 10,000 pounds a year.

Lyn Tomlinson

I found that absolutely staggering, that level of grant.

Rebecca Gill

It is so shocking and 85% of the women and girls sector is what you'd call micro charity and micro organisation. The kind of combination of this information really adds up to a much bigger picture, which is women's organisations are doing more with less, they are invisible, they are undervalued and they are underfunded. And what we would say is that pretty much reflects the way in which women's labour is recognised in wider society. Just as every organisation we fund exists to progress women's lives, so ROSA exists to progress women's and girls organisations in that same way, and it is just simply unacceptable that we expect these organisations to do so much with so little and they cannot thrive and they cannot do what they need to do in the way that they need to do it with so little funding. Women's and girls organisations make up about three and a half percent of the charitable sector. We get less than 2% of the funding. We've done this research to kind of, in a way, benchmark, no one can argue with our number and we want to run it again in a couple of years time to see if that number's shifted.

Rebecca Gill

And our ambition is that the dial has shifted up and that women's organisations are not just collectively able to access more charitable funding, but individual organisations are being able to access the kind of resources that they need to enable them to do the work that they do well.

Lyn Tomlinson

Why do you think that's happening? Because we're 51% of the population. I mean, we have something quite similar in financial services in the venture capital world- women founded businesses get less than 1% of funding, so it's obviously not just about the charity sector. Why do you think that the funding just isn't getting to where it needs to be?

Rebecca Gill

I think it's a kind of complex mix of factors at play. I think there is generally an assumption, and I think there always has been, strangely, an assumption, that somehow we've achieved equality. And yet I've been in this field for 25 years, and there's always been this assumption that we've achieved equality and yet still here I am doing this work and it still seems to be as critical as it always was. So there is this myth that something has been achieved and therefore we don't need to fund. "Why do we need to fund women led organisations?" seems to be one theory. There's an invisibility to women's organisations- what we find with, say, statutory funding is that statutory agencies want to fund gender neutral organisations and those gender neutral organisations will then go to women and girls organisations and ask them to kind of take on aspects of service delivery work. But women's organisations struggle to get access to those statutory agencies to say, we can do this work.

Lyn Tomlinson

Because they're so small, because they're so tiny.

Rebecca Gill

Because they're so small. Exactly that. And they're not being given the resource to be able to grow, but also because sometimes what they do looks expensive, because they are dealing with women with very complex needs and it might be because of the impact of poverty, of mental health, of maternal rights, of long term impact of poor maternity services and so on, discrimination, inequality, over and over. And you layer into that, something like the experience for black and minoritized women and girls, and the organisation looks even more expensive and they just cannot get the kind of money that they need and they're not taken as seriously as they should be by funders. I think the other issue though, that we see, is a lot of funders don't know these organisations exist because they're small and a lot of the funders in the UK will like to fund organisations that are slightly larger and they look at an organisation with a kind of quite low income and they think, we don't think you could cope with more money, so those organisations stay small. So it's not a kind of active 'we don't want to fund women and girls organisations' so much as 'You look quite small- we can't even see you.

Rebecca Gill

We don't think you could cope with more money, so we won't give you more money'- and that kind of slightly vicious circle continues. Such a big problem.

Lyn Tomlinson

And what sort of levels of income are we talking about here? Because from a philanthropist perspective, if you're sort of giving 30 or 40,000 pound grants over multiple years, actually funding smaller organisations is the utopia because you can actually see the transformational impact. You know your money is being put to work really well and you can be really, really engaged versus giving 30,000 to a charity that's got 50 million pounds income, which some do, and that's where the majority of the funding goes. So how do you think we can enable more of that money to go into the sector?

Rebecca Gill

I think part of it is about pieces of research like this, so philanthropists who are really keen to know more. As part of the mapping research, Sheffield Hallm produced a tool for us- you can find it on the ROSA website. That shows you all the charities, women's and girls charities, with a map and you can type in a postcode, you can type in an area of work you're interested in funding and that will show you what organisations are out there with incomes of tiny organisations up to very big organisations. We've been quite careful with our violence against women and girls organisations. We've only mapped them by region because obviously we don't want to be sharing information that's not for sharing. But generally, you can see what's out there and what size of organisations are out there. There's quite a lot of due diligence that needs to be done on organisations. And certainly our work at ROSA is about funding small organisations and some donors like to fund ROSA to fund those organisations because we've got 15 years of experience of doing the due diligence, we've got a database, we're very strong at working out where the money needs to go and making sure that it gets there.

Rebecca Gill

Part of our approach to grant making is not just about giving money out, but demystifying grant making for the women and girls sector. So whenever we design a fund, if I think about the Stand with Us Fund, which is our fund for violence against women and girls, we were donated half a million pounds by Reclaim These Streets, which was set up in the aftermath of Sarah Everard's kidnap, rape and murder. The group of women came together, raised half million pounds, and they were looking around for organisations to give it to and they chose ROSA and they came with us on this journey to develop the Stand with Us Fund. So we had Reclaim These Streets and then we had five women from women and girls organisations who were experts in violence against women and girls, and they designed that fund. And then when we had to make the decisions about where the money went, they sat on the decision panel and helped us make that decision. So you had Reclaim These Streets women who'd not been anywhere near grant making, in their whole lives, who'd raised all those pounds, were able to see exactly where it went.

Rebecca Gill

And that was a very, very powerful way of engaging people. And again, for the women and girls sector, we try and get women's organisations in to help us make the decisions, because we want charities to be able to see just that grant making is not a mystery. It's difficult and it's really, really tough. And sometimes you can have the best application and you still won't get the money, because there's just not enough money. And we want people to be able to see behind the curtain, really, and see the whys, and that's part of what ROSA exists to do.

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah, well that's a fantastic example, isn't it, of collaboration and people admitting where they're not the experts and handing over that control, but still retaining some oversight as to how the money has gone.

Rebecca Gill

Absolutely, yeah. And with our Rise Fund for our black and minoritized led organisations, our black and minoritized trustees ran that and organisations led by and for black and minoritized women helped to design that fund as well. So it's very, very important that those with expertise, we want to cohere those people together to bring their expertise to bear on the decision making.

Lyn Tomlinson: insight

Regular listeners to practical philanthropy will probably hear the word collaboration mentioned just a few times, probably in every episode and every wrap up. And there's a very deliberate reason for this and it isn't just that I've run out of things to say- it's because I really believe this is our superpower. There is nowhere near enough philanthropic capital to solve the challenges that we're facing so this is a sector that really needs to collaborate more than any other. And as our series of 'Voices from the Front Line' showcases, there is no end of expertise, there's no end of research, and there's no end of brilliance out there to piggyback off. The challenge really is in finding it and finding that alignment. And I think for philanthropists, when they're faced with this dilemma of 'should I establish my own charity', 'should I fund others'? Is that it seems a really binary decision, i.e., if you're funding another organisation, you just give your money away to a really large charity, goes into a big black hole, that ends up feeling really impersonal and you don't feel that connection with your philanthropy but that's not what we're talking about here when we think of collaboration.

Lyn Tomlinson

There are a number of smaller foundations, family trusts and other organisations, whose work you can leverage off. Rebecca has given us a really wonderful example of collaboration in action in their Reclaim These Streets collaboration. Because given the public response and outpouring in the wake of Sarah Everard's murder, fundraising wasn't an issue. But deploying the capital in the right way was a challenge. In this case, those who raised the funds had little experience of violence against women and girls, but they felt compelled to act and to make a difference. And this really resonated with me in terms of what sits at the heart of most people's philanthropy. Now, if we think about an alternative scenario, what actually could have happened post that fundraising, Reclaim These Streets could have gone at it alone, they could have made a few grants, built a portfolio, learnt a lot along the way, but in the worst case scenario, they could have got stuck, they could have become overwhelmed and they could have not got money out of the door- but they didn't. They realised that by partnering and collaborating with ROSA, with a team who deeply understood the sector, that they could fill their ambitions quicker and make a bigger impact.

Lyn Tomlinson

And in doing so, far from actually giving up control, they also, as Rebecca explained, came along on that journey and it's this magic and this collaboration that we hope to inspire with this podcast. So go forth and collaborate.

Lyn Tomlinson

And you mentioned the local community there, and I spoke to Kate Markey, the CEO of the London Community foundation, last month and she was talking about collaboration between the state and smaller charities, etc. But are you starting to see that in your sector at all?

Rebecca Gill

Collaboration between the state and small?

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah so local authorities coming to you and saying 'Look, we know we've got an issue in this area, can you help us solve for it? And what do you need?'

Rebecca Gill

We know that that does happen a bit for women's organisations, but we also know that they're just the bottom of the pecking order, that they are always given the most complicated work to do for the least amount of money. There are some enlightened local authorities that do recognise the importance of funding women's organisations, but again, it's often very, very specific service delivery. And I'd say that if you went back 30, 40 years to the 1980s 90s, I think you'd have found more women's centres and more women's organisations that were set up to empower women and girls to advocate for themselves, and there was a sort of value in campaigning and advocacy, in networking, in building communities of women, and that's where some of our power lies as a funder. We've got our voices from the front line programme delivering very small grants to women and girls organisations, creating massive, massive change- so many of them. Some of it's about empowering young women to advocate for themselves, to know how to speak in public, to know how to speak to your local councilors. Some of our funding has contributed to major legislative change. We don't always know where it's going to land, that's why we try and fund as many as possible.

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah, and that's why I did want to talk to you about that because I've done a few of these episodes now and there's always a public policy advocacy angle if you really want to create a systemic change. But it's often seen, I think, by philanthropists as really expensive, really hard work, takes forever and perhaps high risk. But could you just tell us a little bit about some of the successes you've had around campaigning and actually how, I suppose for me, it was surprisingly how cost effective it was?

Rebecca Gill

Yes, voices from the front line has been- we're about to open round six, so we're going for a number of years and we've given 5000 pound to 7000 pound grants to hundreds of women's organisations. So Pregnant then Screwed is a national, now quite famous organisation that campaigns around the kind of motherhood penalty, so supporting women who have been experienced maternity discrimination. And we were one of their first funders, 5000 pound grant and then another 5000 pound grant and I think over three or four years we probably gave them about 15,000 pounds. And they're very clear that without ROSA's funding, they wouldn't have been able to do what they've done. But equally, we've had the Middle Eastern Women's Organisation, they are a very small organisation that has been campaigning for many, many years around women's rights, around vaginoplasty and hymenoplasty and within certain communities there's an expectation that women will have invasive surgery. And as a result of ROSA's funding, they were able to build a network of other organisations. We gave them again 5000 pound grants over a couple of years. They've changed the law. They managed to influence a politician who brought a private members bill that then became law.

Rebecca Gill

And again, they're very clear that ROSA's trust, our early investment, and then you use the word risk and sometimes it is a risk. And what I know after 25 years of working in the women and girls sector and around the women and girls sector is that you don't always see the change that you're trying to create in the year that you're creating it, in the decade you're trying to create it, and sometimes as a funder, you have to say, we will invest in this and something will pop and it will take off. We've been funding one in Wales, Fair Treatment for Women in Wales, and we funded them for four or five years and they've been plugging away to try and get the NHS in Wales to understand, to bring a gender lens, essentially, to women's health issues and particularly for women with disabilities. And then suddenly a door opened for them and they were able to properly influence the whole of the Welsh health strategy. But they didn't come to ROSA in year one and say, we actually have this massive ambition. They were like, could you help us just stay, do some advocacy work?

Rebecca Gill

But year after year they've come back to us and we've awarded them a grant and suddenly they're around the table and that's what we exist to do, is to just let 1000 flowers bloom in terms of campaigning and I'd say to any donor and any philanthropist, it is a risk and you don't always know what's going to take off, but it is how progress for women and girls rights happens, not just in the UK but around the globe. It's trust, it's ambition, and it's being prepared to stand back and say, we don't know which one of these is going to take off or when, and we're still going to invest in it.

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah. And it's finding it, I suppose, isn't it, like you say. So the fact that you've just got that oversight of the whole sector is really helpful.

Rebecca Gill

Absolutely. I mean, one of the things that the mapping research, we reckon there's about seven and a half thousand women's and girls organisations across the United Kingdom. Well, we've got about 6000 of them on our database. We are all very well networked- after 15 years, we have access to many, many thousands of women and girls organisations and we have very strong relationships with them as well and that's something that we really pride ourselves on, is being a funder that's close to women's and girls organisations, that we really trust them and they trust us.

Lyn Tomlinson

That's fantastic. And can I just ask you, because you've mentioned so many times just how long you've been active in this sector, so what would be the one thing that you'd want to happen that could move the dial for it?

Rebecca Gill

I'm very, very passionate about the women and girls sector. I would like every funder, every family foundation, major donor, to have a women and girls fund, to say 'we will ring fence this amount of money every year and it will go to women's and girls organisations'. And there is a difference there- one of the things that the mapping research found, is about 25 million, about 24 million pounds a year goes to gender neutral organisations that are delivering women and girls work. What they are doing is brilliant work and there's nothing I'm going to knock about the work that they're doing. But what we know about women led organisations is that we are here for the long term and we always have been. And when you invest in women's organisations, you invest in long term deep change and progress for women and girls. When the fashions change, when the wind blows a different direction, women's and girls organisations are still here. Other people have moved on. And that's why I would want every funder to have specific women focused women and girl focused funding that they've ring fenced to invest in women and girls organisations.

Lyn Tomlinson

Well, that's really interesting because I've just finished recording a climate podcast and one of the things I talked about on that is that you can apply a climate lens to all your philanthropy. So even if you don't consider yourself a climate based philanthropist, you could look at your grant making and think, well, how does climate intersect with that? So if you're funding health, for example, just realising that air pollution has a really material negative impact on people's health and kills millions of people early each year, and then how you might perhaps use part of your grant making in health to perhaps advocate for clean air funds, for example, those sorts of campaigns. So really bringing that sort of climate lens into your philanthropy feels to me like there's a gender lens that you could bring into almost any area of what you're giving, do you have any sort of insight or thoughts that you could share with us around that?

Rebecca Gill

I know that some of the biggest changes to any other form of it- could be homelessness or housing climate change health, if you brought a gender lens into that. And I think about climate change a lot, because what we have seen for the last 50 years is a lot of people who are the least affected by climate change talking about climate change. And women are always on the sharpest end of conflict, of climate change, of housing problems, homelessness, health inequalities, you will find women there. And I do wish that when there was funding going into all sorts of schemes, and I'll use climate change as an example, that there was a gender lens brought to that, because I think that would make some of the biggest changes to women and girls'lives globally, not just in the UK.

Lyn Tomlinson

And you're obviously a UK focused foundation, so you've got deep expertise. But do you have any guidance for people who are looking internationally or any great work you've seen going on from an international basis around women led organisations?

Rebecca Gill

I wouldn't. And I wouldn't want to put it on. Yeah, I'm exhausted enough trying to work out what's happening in the UK. And actually, I think there's a really interesting challenge for the UK, because there is a difference between absolute and relative inequality. And sometimes what we find, there's a bit of an argument levied back at the UK, which is, why are you worried about women and girls here? Because actually, you just got to look at Iran or Syria or Sudan at the moment, and women and girls lives are so much worse. And that is true. Absolutely, that is true. But the relative inequality and the relative poverty that women and girls find themselves in the UK is destroying women. And so I think that it can almost be used against women and girls in the UK and in other kind of developed countries that you've got nothing to complain about, because you're not in Afghanistan. But actually, it's recognising how these things relatively are experienced and the poverty and inequality that women face. And remembering that inequality manifests itself in so many different ways. It isn't just about poverty. And in all stratas of life, you will find women who are less equal than men and you will find inequalities between women as well, whether that's because of race or disability, sexual orientation and so on.

Lyn Tomlinson: insight

Have we achieved equality here in the UK? Should we be quiet, given the opportunities we have compared to some other countries? Is that a fair challenge? Well, sadly, the answer to that is a big and resounding no. And I just wanted to put some context and some numbers around the points that Rebecca has highlighted here. From a labour perspective, women are less likely to be employed full time than men, with 45% of women being employed full time, compared to 61% of men. Almost double the amount of women are carers when compared to men. Less than a third of members of Parliament are women, and only a third of board members for the largest publicly listed companies are female. Unsurprisingly, inequalities, between gender are even more acute when they intersect with racial inequality. According to a literature review, the Pay and progression of women and Colour, which was released in September by the Fawcett Society and the Runnymead Trust. Black girls are twice as likely to be permanently excluded from school compared to white girls. Ethnic minorities had to send 60% more applications to enter the workforce. And women make up only 6% of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies and 35% of civil service permanent secretaries.

Yet none of these are women of colour. And we're not just talking about women overall having less economic participation than men, or the fact that they shoulder the majority of caring and labour in the home. We are also talking about their fundamental safety. Sadly, one in four adult women in the UK will experience some form of sexual violence and every three days, a woman is murdered by a man. These life changing events leave women and their children dealing with a really wide range of mental and physical issues that can create long lasting negative impacts that not only adversely affect their own wellbeing but can have implications for society more broadly. Therefore, whilst it's absolutely true that compared to certain parts of the world, women and girls here in the UK have better opportunities, the point and the reality is that they don't all experience and benefit from those equal opportunities. And as a country, we are a really long way from achieving gender equality from any measure, whether that is economic participation or political empowerment. And that is why it is so important to continue to talk about inequality in the UK.

Lyn Tomlinson

Yes, I wanted to ask you about Smallwood Trust because that was an incredible piece of getting extra money into the sector, wasn't it?

Rebecca Gill

Yes. We were in the penultimate round of the Government's tampon and Tax fund, and we were awarded 1.9 million in partnership with Smallwood. And Smallwood Trust are a brilliant, very vintage foundation set up in the late 19th century by a brilliant female philanthropist. And they tackle poverty and financial inequality. That's their mission. So, ROSA and Smallwood Trust, we ran the Women Thrive Fund and we invested 1.9 million in these organisations. And between them, collectively, as a result of our funding, they leveraged in a further 3.4 million into the sector. And what they said these organisations individually, was, once they'd got funding from ROSA and Smallwood, they could go to other funders, and other funders said, oh, well, if they trust you, we can give you money. And that was just so incredible for us to feel that just with not very much funding from us, other funders give them money and these organisations really, really start to grow. Last year, we had a great partnership with the Big Give. They've not done a women and girls fund before. They were so open to the collaboration. Really brilliant team there, and they ran their women and girls Match Fund, and that's a great way for philanthropists to give as well.

So they worked with women and girls organisations to put up the kind of match funding bid on the website and then other philanthropists could go in and match the fund. And it was a fantastic way of us sharing our expertise of the Big Give, really, really focusing on women and girls and other donors coming in and giving those organisations funding doesn't work for every women and girls organisation. One of the things about having very small charities is they haven't got big fundraising arms.

Lyn Tomlinson

Too busy delivering the services.

Rebecca Gill

Too busy delivering their services. They really, really struggle to find the time to write the bids that allow funders, to enable funders to even think about them, let alone give them money. So our collaboration with the Big Give was a very important piece of work and that's the sort of work we love doing. We are tiny and we aim to distribute about two and a half million over a two year funding cycle. And that's a big ambition for us. And so we want to work with others because our mission is to get more money into the women and girls sector. Obviously, if people want to give it to us to distribute, that's brilliant. But generally we want everybody to be distributing it to this sector.

Lyn Tomlinson

And like you said, it was just over 3 million extra and you only get 74 million as a whole sector. And 24 of that goes to the large charities doing gender, doing gender work.

Rebecca Gill

Gender work but they're gender neutral organisations- exactly that. So we need and want to shift the way the money flows, we want to increase the amount flowing in and ensure that it really does go to those women led organisations, because they are where the change happens at an individual level, at a social level, kind of historically and over the long term, we've got a 200 year track record of doing this and I'm very confident that will continue into the future.

Caitlin Moran: interview

When you look at what boys are saying- the rise of people like Andrew Tate, if you read Laura Bates's book 'Men who Hate Women', these Facebook sites have 300 to 400,000 young men on them. And I think a lot of that is because we've been so concentrated, quite rightly and correctly, on the problems of women and young women and young girls over the last 20 years or so, that we don't realise that most of the conversations that a 15 year old boy will have overheard whenever the word man is mentioned, it's things like typical men, typical straight white men. Oh, the patriarchy, toxic masculinity and so the only person who's saying anything positive about men and going, it's okay to be a boy. Masculinity isn't in itself a bad thing is someone like Andrew Tate. So it brings with him a whole bunch of baggage, which is not going to solve those boys' problems.

Journalist: interview

Yeah, so much baggage. So you note in the book, the number of young men who believe that, in a sense, feminism has gone too far, hasn't it? As you've just said, it has left them behind. But what do you think, then, kind of solves that problem? Do you have to wait a whole other generation for some brave men to be? What?

Caitlin Moran: interview

Well, the offer I make in the book is just pointing out, like, kind of, if you think women are winning, if you think boys are losing, then still, statistically, we have less money than men. There is the pay gap. One in four of us will be sexually assaulted. We know the structural, economic, political problems behind women, but the one thing we have got that might make you think we are winning has been feminism. This brilliant, crowdsourced network of things where if you have any problem, you can go online and there'll be a blog or a book or a film or a movie star or a stand up comedian dealing with that problem instantly. And there is not that resource for boys. There is like, half of the upbringing that I've done of my two teenage daughters was actually done by the wider network of feminism. Whenever I got something wrong, they could find another resource. I don't know how I would have raised teenage boys, because that conversation is not happening.

Journalist: interview

Well, I don't have boys. Fee does have a son. You have daughters as well, don't you? So I confess, I don't know what I'd have done if I'd have had sons. I'd have loved to have had a son. So have you changed your view then? Have you begun to think that those young boys who spoke to you a couple of years ago and said, it's actually tougher to be us than to be a girl? Do you think they're right?

Caitlin Moran: interview

Well, the thing I enjoyed most is going through it like a big old mum, and going, here are the things you're right to be worried about. And in these, I think I give eight reasons where it is harder to be a boy or a man than a woman now. So I very much see this as an extension of my feminism. Because the path of all women and girls problems is men, angry men, abusive men, scared men, confused men, and you can't fix the girls until you fix the boys. So I genuinely believe that the next part of feminism is showing this resource that we've invented, which is talking about gender, which we've used to talk about women, we now need to use it to talk about men.

Lyn Tomlinson

Could we talk a bit about men for a moment? Because is it. Caitlin Moran talks a lot (she's great) that you need to fix the men to help the women. How do you feel about that?

Rebecca Gill

I think it's a very interesting and important argument and discussion to have. One of the things we find at ROSA is, again, reflecting a little bit like daily life, where women are not men's emotional support dogs and animals. We exist in our own right to do our own work. I wish there was more funding for men to help men positively. And I get quite upset if there's an expectation that women and girls organisations will somehow do that work with men and boys as well. And the other thing that worries me sometimes is that when the funders are moving towards having a sort of gender fund, right, and there is a move that work with perpetrators, work with tackling misogyny amongst men and boys, really critical and crucial work. But there isn't a bigger pie. And actually, I want there to be a pot of funding, which is for women and girls organisations. I'd like there to be another pot of funding, separate money, which is about addressing the issues among men and the issues that men create for wider society. But my worry comes that it comes at the expense of women's lives and that is something I could never, ever support.

Rebecca Gill

And so, yes, but give us more.

Lyn Tomlinson

Exactly. Definitely don't take any more away from me anymore!

Rebecca Gill

Sometimes you see that, particularly with statutory agencies, they'll say, 'we're not funding violence against women and girls anymore, we're going to fund this perpetrator programme'. So they just do a direct transfer of cash.

Lyn Tomlinson

That's awful.

Rebecca Gill

And that is awful because it should just be new money.

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah, exactly. It's about sister causing, it's about the root cause of the problem, rather than helping with interventions, etc., but you can't just cut off one source of funding.

Rebecca Gill

Exactly that and root causes is brilliant. I'm a mother of sons. Brilliant. Do what you need to do. But we've still got thousands of women over here that every day are dealing with the current issues of male violence, coercive control, financial abuse and so on, and systems and health services, housing systems, so on, that are set up for a single male model role. And women are really, really losing out to that so it's all very well saying, 'well, let's go to the root causes, let's go to the root causes' but actually, you've got a whole lot of stuff over here that still needs to be addressed.

Lyn Tomlinson

And these are decades.

Rebecca Gill

Decades.

Lyn Tomlinson

Decades to put right.

Rebecca Gill

Absolutely. And intergenerational and cultural.

Lyn Tomlinson

Cultural.

Rebecca Gill

Absolutely.

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah.

Rebecca Gill

But I'm not depressed! We mustn't be depressed. No, there's too much good stuff happening.

Lyn Tomlinson

There is. And thank God for you guys. Honestly.

Rebecca Gill

We're not here for a good time, we're here for a long time!

Lyn Tomlinson

Yeah, we were definitely living that one, Rebecca.

Lyn Tomlinson

No, I'm sure it feels very long. God bless you. Well, that's been amazing. I mean, one thing that we always finish up on, because I called this podcast 'Practical Philanthropy' for a couple of reasons. And so one of the things we wanted to do, apart from to bring this amazing expertise that's out there in the foundation sector, or philanthropists who've been funding a specific area to new people who are coming into the sector, is to really enable them to take something away from the time you spent today, whether this half hour, something practical. And so I just wondered, you've mentioned a couple of times you've been in this sector, sort of. Is it 15, 25 years? If you can think back that far. I just wondered, what do you think you'd love to have been told 25 years ago?

Rebecca Gill

I love this question and I wish I had known how long change takes. It takes a very long time. And everything you're doing now will probably bear fruit, but you might not even be alive when it happens, and you should still do what you're doing. And the other thing, and someone did say this to me when I was about ten years into my career. They said, 'the price of progress is eternal vigilance'. And what we are seeing now in the United Kingdom and around the world in the United States, is some very, very hard won rights of women being rolled back. And we must never, ever be complacent, because when you think you've won it, someone will come along and they will take it away. And every single right that women have won in this country and around the globe has been won by women. We are the reason why change happens. We have to stay focused on it. So I'd say change takes a really long time. Don't be complacent.

Lyn Tomlinson

Keep at it.

Rebecca Gill

Keep at it and be vigilant, because some sod will come and take it off you if you're not careful.

Lyn Tomlinson

We got some worrying things coming out of our own government around things like just the right to protest, haven't we? And the immigration bill. All these sorts of things which will disproportionately affect women and children, I'm sure.

Rebecca Gill

Women and children, black women and children, women with no recourse to public funds, women who are in precarious housing situations. I mean, it is to child benefit cap. This is pushing women into poverty and keeping them there. It is unacceptable. And the intergenerational impact on children now is going to be felt through our lifetimes. We are going to see such a long term consequence of some of these shifts. And again, it's always keeping the gender lens. I mean, I can look at anything in life and think, what impact is that having on women? I just think about it all the time.

Lyn Tomlinson

Finishing up, then. So, one of the things I love about the foundation sector, and I'm very new to this, by the way, this whole philanthropy lark, respectively, compared to your 25 years, is when I sort of peer over the wall, I just think, oh, my God, these people are just so brilliant. They're so expert and you're all so open and so collaborative, and I think that's really fantastic. And I'm this huge believer that people can really piggyback off all the great work that you're doing and the research you're doing. So how best is it, Rebecca, for people to follow the research and the work that ROSA is doing?

Rebecca Gill

Our website is up to date with all of our work and our social media as well. We think very highly of social media, so we put a lot of our work out on Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn. So those are very good ways of finding out what we're doing.

Lyn Tomlinson: outro

You don't always see the change that you are trying to create in the year, that you are trying to create it in the decade. You try and create it, but you still have to do what you are doing.

This is an absolute classic line from Rebecca, and for me, exemplifies the role of philanthropy in risk taking, to be that long term partner and to back lasting, systemic change. As always, I really love my time with my guest, and I really learned a lot. And I particularly love Rebecca's clear call to actions. The one thing she thinks, after 25 years of working in the sector that would really move the dial for women and girls led organisations, is for all funders to have a separate pot of capital to allocate to those organisations. This gender lens approach can be applied to any area of giving, from education, homelessness and climate. And if funders need help finding those charities, ROSA has mapped the sector via their online tool where you can search by geographical location or by cause area. We've linked to this in the podcast notes. I also really loved that clarity she had about men, that we need to have much more capital going to men and boys organisations to solve the challenges that they face and the issues they create for wider society, but that we absolutely cannot do this at the expense of the women and girls sector.

And finally, whilst not my finest line of questioning regarding the global landscape, those who are interested in the international perspective would do well to look at the work of the Sigrid Rousing Trust. This is our last episode of Practical Philanthropy in 2023. A big thank you to those of you who have been listening and wishing you all a wonderful rest when the holiday season comes. The team will be back with our next episode in 2024. Until then, you can reach me on Lyn.Tomlinson@cazenovecapital.com.

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Authors

Lyn Tomlinson
Head of Impact and Philanthropy

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