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MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett award Equality Now $15 million gift to advance women’s and girls’ rights

USA, New York, March 23, 2022Equality Now, a leading international women’s rights organization that harnesses the law to protect and promote women’s and girls’ rights around the world, is delighted to announce it is the recipient of a $15 million gift from philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.

“We are overjoyed and humbled by this gift. It will have a transformative impact on Equality Now’s ability to address gender discrimination by holding governments to account for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sexual violence and exploitation, and harmful practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation,” said Yasmeen Hassan, Equality Now’s Global Executive Director

Women’s and girls’ rights are at a critical juncture. Great strides have been made since Equality Now began 30 years ago, with most countries now guaranteeing sex equality in their constitutions. However, the pace and reach of reforms have been inconsistent, and chronic underinvestment in the women’s sector has impeded progress.

The gendered repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, political upheavals, and climate change show how fragile and tentative gains can be. Worldwide, women have on average just three-quarters of the rights of men, and nowhere has attained economic equality. This fosters the perpetuation of sexual and gender-based violence, with one in three women experiencing sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

Of growing concern is how online sexual exploitation and abuse is increasing at an alarming rate, but national and international laws are not keeping pace with advancing technology. A recent report by Equality Now revealed how a patchwork of laws isn’t delivering adequate protection, and regulations on digital service providers and platforms are inconsistent, meaning not enough is being done to keep everyone safe online.

And yet, gender equality benefits us all. Research clearly demonstrates that when women are granted the same rights as men, there is a positive ripple effect that bolsters economic development, poverty reduction, peace and stability, and environmental protections.

This donation is a significant contribution to a $50 million goal that will enable Equality Now to deliver against our new organizational strategy, Future Proofing Gender Equality, which confronts inequality and oppression in every area, from age-old constructs found in harmful traditional and religious practices to evolving digital environments.

Harnessing our network of lawyers, activists, civil society, and corporate partners, we will help grow the women’s rights movement globally. We will influence governments to adopt, improve and enforce laws that guarantee equality for women and girls; ensure commitments made are translated into action; and drive more resources to the women’s rights movement. 

We will address cultural norms and traditions that are being misused to justify and reinforce the ongoing oppression of women and girls. This includes family laws that allow discrimination in marriage, divorce, guardianship of children, property rights, and rights to inheritance. 

And in the digital sphere, we will extend our campaign advocating for the introduction of a Universal Declaration of Digital Rights. This new international framework will guarantee the rights of all people in the digital space and hold digital services to account for sexual abuse and exploitation on their platforms. It will press governments to provide the expertise and resources needed to investigate and prosecute crimes effectively and punish offenders, regardless of their location.

“We value the generous donation by Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett as a vote of confidence in Equality Now and our mission to advance women’s and girls’ rights. Their funding provides a cornerstone to underpin our strategic, long-term plan to tackle the root causes of gender inequality, and achieve the systemic changes needed to create a just world for all women and girls.”

Yasmeen Hassan, Equality Now’s Global Executive Director.