Silver linings & Season’s Greetings

AIIW News, 18 December 2020

Dear Friends,

There’s no doubt that this has been a difficult year for everyone. Rather than recount the many challenges here I thought instead I’d share the top three silver linings that our team has taken from 2020: 

1. Mainstream media focus on gendered impacts:  The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, with evidence emerging early of mortality rates being higher for men.  While this remains the case, it is women who are more likely to bear the brunt of the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that “COVID-19 could reverse the limited progress that has been made on gender equality and women’s rights”. With the pandemic set to stretch into 2021, these words are looking less like a warning than a prediction. 

So where is the silver lining in this dark cloud over gender equality? It is in the increasing recognition of the importance of gender analysis on issues affecting society and of the related need to apply a gender lens to funding of solutions.  While the penny hasn’t yet dropped with everyone, we’ve been encouraged this year by the growing interest in the importance of a gender lens on giving and in broader philanthropic practices.

2. Rebranding:  Thanks to Gandel Philanthropy we took advantage of the opportunity for reflection and set about the important internal work that can be so hard to get to in the usual pace of NFP life.  With help from key stakeholders we undertook an extensive brand review process that has informed our evolution to Australians Investing In Women and have been delighted that this new name and brand identity has been so enthusiastically received in the community. 

3. New Website:  After more than a decade our website was in desperate need of an overhaul and, hand in hand with the rebrand and with the generous support of the Collier Charitable Fund, we have launched a fresh, contemporary website which will be further enhanced in 2021.  We look forward to sharing developments with you that will support more effective and impactful giving through a gender lens.

On a personal level there were also benefits:

1. Family time:  Like many in the philanthropic sector, my pre-pandemic life saw me out at events more evenings than I care to count.  It’s true that many events moved on line and some were still scheduled out of normal business hours, the lockdown has afforded me much more time with my family and I have absolutely relished it!

2. Daily exercise: I decided early on in lockdown that I would need to take some very deliberate steps to manage my health and general wellbeing and, come rain or shine I made sure I walked for at least an hour (almost) every day – something I hope to continue for the many benefits it brings to mental and physical health.

3. Appreciation elevation:  Our brilliant Operations Manager, Joyce Teo, joined us as Victoria went into lockdown in late March so, as part of staying connected while working remotely, we introduced a daily ritual of sharing a ‘photograph of nature’ taken on our respective morning walks.  In doing so we both came to appreciate more deeply the extraordinary beauty of flowers, trees and hidden wildlife in our local neighbourhoods – a silver lining I have treasured these past eight or nine months and plan to retain in our post pandemic life.

Looking ahead to 2021:

1. Updating our Gender-wise resources: As promised at our Annual Gender-wise Event we are in the process of updating both the content and the look of our Gender-wise resources to reflect our new brand and to share further case studies and examples of effective investment in women and girls.  We look forward to sharing these with you early in the new year.

2. Gender lens framework on Corporate Giving: COVID -19 put a pause on work we had begun in collaboration with the Champions of Change Coalition (formerly Male Champions of Change) and we are very excited to be resuming this work on a tool to be launched in 2021.

3. New Speaker series:  In response to the growing recognition of the need for gender analysis and education we are excited to be planning a new speaker series in 2021.  While we may be feeling rather ‘zoomed out’ at this end of the year there is no doubt that the option of virtual events broadens both the speaker options and the audience and we plan to bring you some illuminating conversations in the year ahead.

In reflecting on these silver linings I don’t want to diminish the very real loss and hardship so many have endured this year.  It’s been a tough time and the consequences will continue to be felt for a long time to come. I’m very much looking forward to the end of the year and the opportunity to draw a line under 2020, and taking time to rest and recharge.  Our work has taken on even more urgency and importance and, with the help of our wonderful philanthropic supporters, we are determined to work even harder to ensure more Australians invest in women and girls in a way that delivers dividends for everyone.

My resolution for 2021 is taken from the many wise words of the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Notorious RBG

Wishing you and your loved ones peace, love and joy and a healthy and new year.


Julie Reilly
Australians Investing In Women

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