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December 9, 2021

Ms. Foundation for Women Releases Assessment of Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Justice Funding Landscape

New report calls for increased philanthropic investment in Indigenous women and girls, and the creation of a funding platform and Indigenous-led nonprofit focused on reproductive justice.

NEW YORK Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women released Tired of Dancing to Their Song: An Assessment of the Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Justice Funding Landscape, that examines the needs of Indigenous communities and works to address the historic discrepancies in philanthropic funding for Indigenous women and girls. 

This assessment stemmed from the Ms. Foundation’s recent groundbreaking report, Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less, which revealed that of the total $66.9 billion given by foundations, philanthropic giving to women and girls of color accounts for just 0.5%, or $5.48 per year, for each woman or girl of color in the United States, with even less specified as benefitting Indigenous women and girls.

To address these historically low levels of philanthropic investment, the Ms. Foundation for Women convened a Women’s Council of Indigenous leadership to understand how such funding discrepancies are a direct byproduct of colonization and institutional systems, identify vital funding needs for Native women, and how to shift the philanthropic paradigm to one that prioritizes Native communities. Their findings showcase a lack of quality healthcare throughout the Native community and severe limits on Native women’s reproductive choices, with top funding needs identified as capacity building, policy and advocacy, and education, followed by prevention, direct service, and health and wellbeing.

“What must change is society’s traditional unwillingness to prioritize Indigenous people and their needs,” said Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “In this assessment, the Indigenous Women’s Council boldly redefines reproductive justice and shares what is needed to make progress in their communities. This is a prime opportunity for philanthropy to recognize, trust, and support them. We call on funders to join this important work by examining their portfolios and providing the necessary funding to Native-led organizations.” 

Through ongoing convenings, Indigenous women will lead the work of developing a full-scale Indigenous women’s reproductive justice funding platform, facilitated and curated by the Ms. Foundation for Women. The ultimate goal of the funding platform is to create the first of its kind advocacy organization led by Indigenous women that solely focuses on the full spectrum of Native women’s reproductive justice. 

“It is imperative that this work is built upon a trust of Indigenous communities’ experiences and expertise and is guided by the leadership of Indigenous women,” said Coya White Hat-Artichoker, Program Officer of the Ms. Foundation and co-author of the assessment. “We must center Native voices in conversations regarding policy and advocacy within their own communities in order to combat the continued systematic exclusion and destructive impacts of colonization. I am proud to work with the Indigenous Women’s Council and this group of leaders and look forward to what we can accomplish together for reproductive justice.”

All of the recommendations outlined by stakeholders in the assessment can and will be achieved by an ongoing series of regional and national convenings of Indigenous women to identify the role of Native women in the larger reproductive justice movement. The Ms. Foundation is honored to support this vital work. The full report is available here. 

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The Ms. Foundation for Women transforms our democracy by building women’s collective power. Guided by a gender and racial justice lens, we resource grassroots movements that center women and girls of color, advance feminism in philanthropy, and advocate for policies that improve women’s lives across the country. Since 1973, we’ve opened up worlds of possibility for women and girls. But to finally achieve justice for all, we need you in our fight. ​Learn more and get involved at ForWomen.org.