United State of Women: NAP and Native Women

United State of Women: NAP and Native Women

In June, the White House convened the United State of Women, a first national Summit to celebrate and discuss next steps to advance gender equity in the U.S. Upon my arrival, I recalled the strength and leadership of Native women at our recent Philanthropy Institute at the powerful closing of the Institute with a Lakota prayer song by Shirley Murphy, a local elder. Afterwards, she rightly asked the women to trill as Native women only trill in celebration, honoring or recognition. It was a sacred moment and I felt that sacredness at the United State of Women (USOW).

Over 35 Native women attended the USOW, some of whom also attended our Philanthropy Institute. They brought their wisdom and strength and were prepared to advocate for issues facing tribal communities in urban and rural settings, within the following USOW framework:

  • Economic Empowerment – Discussing equal pay and paid leave, as well as childcare and diversity.
  • Health & Wellness – Looking at health coverage, preventative care, pregnancy and more.
  • Educational Opportunity – Covering education for girls and women, from early childhood to college.
  • Violence Against Women – How we can prevent it on campus and at home, in the US and abroad.
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation – Supporting female entrepreneurs with access to capital and increasing markets.
  • Leadership & Civic Engagement- Furthering women’s roles in corporations, academia, the media and the public sector.

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) invited many Native women. The Mission of NIWRC is to support culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy and to provide national leadership to prevent and end gender-based violence in Indigenous communities. They develop educational materials and programs, provide technical assistance, and develop local and national policy that builds the capacity of Indigenous communities and strengthens the exercise of tribal sovereignty.

A recent report entitled, “National Institute of Justice Research Report” provides shocking statistics of the amount of violence that tribal communities, women and men are confronting. It reports that BOTH Native women and men experience violence over 80 percent in their lifetime.

  • More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaskan Native Women have experienced violence in their lifetime (84.3 percent).
  • More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaskan Native Men have experienced violence in their lifetime (81.6 percent).

These statistics point to the overwhelming need for healing and justice in tribal communities. Native Americans in Philanthropy recently released an infographic on “Investing to Prevent and End All Forms of Violence Against Native Women and Girls”. It emphasizes the legacy of violence, inequitable reality and the need for immediate and efficient interventions. It highlights Investment Opportunities to Impact Violence Against Native Women and Girls and we recommend a holistic approach that aims to empower Native women, adolescents, girls and their communities and nations.

United State of Women called upon attendees and supporters to take the following pledge:

  • Be in charge of my own body. Every powerful part.
  • Learn whatever I want like it’s nobody’s business.
  • Stand by my game-changing ideas.
  • Use my voice to stand up for my community.
  • Get paid the same as everyone else doing the same job.
  • Call out sexism when I see it.
  • Not be a silent bystander.

Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) has taken this pledge and recommits to stand up for our community. NAP promotes equitable and effective philanthropy in Native communities. Foundation funding to Native communities has been historically disproportionately low — less than half a percent, although Native Americans are 1.7% (5.4 million) of the total US population. We believe that increased funding for Native communities will lead to improved equity and well-being for Native peoples across the United States. Thus, we engage, educate and empower Native and non-Native grantmakers and nonprofits through convenings, technical assistance, capacity building programs and leadership development to bring more resources to existing assets in Native communities and foster long-term relationships and commitments.

We also work in partnership with Native Voices Rising (NVR), a pilot grantmaking collaborative launched in 2013 with Common Counsel Foundation. So far, NVR has awarded a total $410,000 to 43 organizations. Grants were made to Native grassroots organizations involved in a wide range of organizing, advocacy, leadership development, and voter engagement activities.

Join us in taking the pledge to support the United State of Women movement and join the circle of Native Americans in Philanthropy to celebrate, honor and recognize the sacredness of women.

Wopila (deep gratitude),
Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO
Native Americans in Philanthropy