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Andrea McManus, ViTreo Group Inc
March 5th 2019

The campaign theme for the March 8, 2019 International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter.  

Let's build a gender-balanced world
Balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage ... Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”
- International Women’s Day , Campaign Theme 2019

As the annual celebration for International Women’s Day is just a few days away, the status of women everywhere is on my mind. While I believe a balanced workplace, boardroom, C-Suite and more are hugely important, I don’t want to ignore the other stories. And I can’t. In fact, we can’t. We are fundraisers and many of us raise money for causes and organizations that deal with the ramifications, either directly or indirectly, of gender imbalance. We need to remember those unfortunately real tales of inequality and worse are taking place across the world each and every day in cities and towns, across the street and in the office or apartment next to yours. While we are working towards more gender-balanced boardrooms, media coverage and sports coverage in some countries - which I do believe are critical to promote the changes society as a whole needs to support - let’s not forget some really important facts:

Even in ‘civilized’ countries like Canada and the U.S., a gender-balanced workplace and gender equity generally, is not something some women can even fathom. For them, suffering and/or escaping violence or even death at the hands of their partners or searching for how to break free from the soul-destroying prison of poverty are what fills their days.

These heartbreaking statistics from the Canadian Women’s Foundation:

  • “Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

  • 67% of Canadians say they have personally known at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.

  • Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Out of the 83 police-reported intimate partner homicides in 2014, 67 of the victims—over 80%—were women.

  • On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home.

  • On any given night, about 300 women and children are turned away because shelters are already full.

  • Cyber violence, which includes online threats, harassment, and stalking, has emerged as an extension of violence against women. Young women (18-24) are most likely to experience online harassment in its most severe forms, including stalking, sexual harassment and physical threats.”  

(source: Canadian Women The Facts Gender Based Violence 02.25.19)

For the complete list of statistics, visit Canadian Women Fact Sheet February 2018 02.25.19

In the United States, an average of 20 people experience intimate partner physical violence every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence and intimate partner contact sexual violence. For the complete Fact sheet, visit National Coalition Against Violence 03/03/2019

There are also still far too many examples of financial inequity for women (and their children). More women than men still live in poverty and still earn less than the minimum wage. “On average, full-time working women in Canada earn only 75 cents for each dollar earned by men.” (Canadian Women The Facts Women and Poverty 02/25/19)

In the U.S., “for women across all races – the wage gap didn’t budge – women working were paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts [working full time, year round] in 2017.” (National Women's Law Center Resources on Poverty, Income and Health 02/25/19).

Our own profession is not much different. In its 2017-2018 Compensation and Benefits Study for the U.S. and Canada, AFP reported that in the U.S. female fundraisers an average of 19% less than their male counterparts and in Canada, the average compensation for female fundraisers was 31% less than male fundraisers. (the report also states these numbers are based on a low sample size).

Fundraisers Compensation in the U.S

Fundraisers Compensation in the U.S

Study findings by the U.S. Bureau of the Census reported a national median income in 2016 (the most recent numbers available) of $59,039. At the same time, 37% of fundraising professionals (who are mostly women) received less compensation than the national median, especially in organizations focused on local and regional services, where they earned less than $50,000 annually. In November 2017, Statistics Canada’s findings showed the national median income for 2015 at $70,336, with at least 26% of fundraisers (in Canada they are mostly women as well) earning less than the national average. Sixty two percent of fundraisers working for organizations with an international scope likely earned less than $75,000 per year. (source: Association for Fundraising Professionals 2017-2018 Compensation and Benefits, U.S. and Canada 02/28/19)

In many countries in the developing world, being a woman is incredibly dangerous — they continue to be at high risk of murder, violence, sexual assault. Many are illiterate. A UN Women’s report sets out these disturbing facts —

“It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime."

(source: UN Women -- Ending Violence Against Women Facts and Figures 02/25/19)

For some of these women, income parity is likely the least of their concerns.

In Saudi Arabia, one of the worst offenders for gender inequality, women were finally allowed to drive in 2018 after a decades-long ban, but they “still need male permission for most major activities, like travel, getting married or divorced, and filing a police report. Women must still wear a long cloak known as an "abaya" and many shops don't even allow women to try on clothing at malls. Men and women are still prohibited from mixing in public, with beaches, stadiums, public transport and pools segregated by gender.”

(source: Business Insider Womens Rights In Saudi Arabia Rosie Perper 06/27/18)

The World Health Organization reports:

“Violence against women is a global public health problem that has serious adverse effects on women’s physical, mental, and reproductive health. It is increasingly recognized as a public health issue because of the expanding evidence base and growth of research documenting the magnitude and health effects of violence against women. For the first time, global prevalence estimates have been calculated based on all existing data from population-based studies showing that worldwide, 35% of women have experienced either intimate partner violence (physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner) or non-partner sexual violence or both in their lifetime. Multi-sectoral efforts are needed to combat this deep-rooted problem.”

 (World Health Organization Women and Health 02/28/19)

As fundraisers and not for profits, we must keep these stories alive.

Source:  @luciadong , Unsplash

Source: @luciadong, Unsplash


So while we commemorate International Women’s Day this year and the gains which have been made - and we have made many advances —  let’s not forget those for whom change is still out of reach, who don’t have a reason to celebrate this day of honouring women yet. We’ve come a long way, baby, but we’re still far from out of the woods.

Check out ViTreo's Braintrust as we bring you additional insights into what is and what will be important in philanthropy through our Weekly News Recap and our Podcast.



Andrea McManus, Chair, Board of Directors, Partner
ViTreo Group Inc

Andrea McManus is a Partner with ViTreo with over 30 years’ experience in fund development, marketing, sponsorship and nonprofit management. A highly strategic thinker and change maker, Andrea has worked with organizations that span the nonprofit sector with particular focus on building long-term and sustainable capacity. 

Andrea McManusComment