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A letter from our Global Executive Director, Yasmeen Hassan, on the generosity that has helped to sustain Equality Now.

Our work would not be possible without our global community of supporters. The resources we have to do our work are due to the generosity of our donors. They are a key part of our mission to make the world a better, more equal place for all women and girls. 

Some supporters, like Mackenzie Scott—whose $15 million gift earlier this year made a transformative impact on our organization—are relatively new to our work but no less steadfast in their commitment. Others have been with us from our earliest days. Their dedication, and the perspective they bring to our issues,  are foundational parts of what has made Equality Now a leader in the gender equality movement over the past 30 years. 

I’ll never forget the first time I spoke to Allene Wong, who came to our work after watching a wrenching documentary on bride kidnapping in Eurasia. When Allene sought ways to contribute to the fight against these kinds of practices, Equality Now was the organization whose name stood out. Allene and her family have made a tremendous impact on Equality Now over the years through the generosity of their Kahiau Pacific Foundation, which primarily looks to support causes in Allene’s home state of Hawaii. 

Equality Now is consistently honored to be the only global charity the foundation supports annually. = Allene has helped us deepen our work in the campaigns that impact girls and young women around the globe, To know Allene is to know her passion for travel, and I like to think that Equality Now is part of her incredible journey around the world. 

The friendships we build with many of our supporters allow us to watch as they progress in their activism. Chandra Jessee came to us as a very young philanthropist when she sought to combine her passion for gender equality with her interest in media and popular culture. Now an Award-winning documentary and film producer, activist, and venture investor, Equality Now has had the privilege of watching Chandra come into her own as a supporter of our movement. Chandra’s vision for a more balanced world led her to found the InMaat Foundation, a remarkable organization that supports organizations promoting equality for women, girls, and all marginalized people. 

As a lead sponsor of our annual Make Equality Reality Gala, Chandra’s philanthropy has helped Equality Now leverage our ambition for global work, building our capacity to make the world a better place for women and girls. Her generosity has also seen us draw closer to our mission to end sex trafficking, helping to ensure that these campaigns have the most impact possible. In 2019, we were thrilled to have Chandra join us as a Global Board Member, further cementing her commitment to our mission.

Some supporters come to us with a definitive idea of how they want to change the world. Victoria Gomez-Trenor is among the most passionate advocates for girls I have encountered. Victoria’s longstanding support of our Adolescent Girls Legal Defense Fund (AGLDF) has been transformative. Victoria’s generosity has enabled us to win landmark cases such as lifting the death penalty from  Noura Hussein, a child bride in Sudan, and lifting the ban in Sierra Leone on pregnant girls attending school. She supported our most longstanding case on abduction, rape, and forced marriage of a 13 year-old in Ethiopia, which resulted in victory after 17 long years. Victoria, like Equality Now, never gives up.

Victoria is committed to supporting structural change but wanted to make sure that we invest directly in the most vulnerable girls. This led her to start The GENEROSITY of GIRLS Fund within Equality Now which has supported grassroots organizations working directly with girls— from victims of trafficking in Kenya to those vulnerable to sexual abuse in the family in Bolivia. The fund’s name, so important to Victoria, tells so much about her approach to her work—it is the generosity of the girls she helps to support that allows her to make a difference in their lives. 

Other supporters have come to our work through the injustices they see closest to home. My dear friend Jennifer Allan Soros was–and still is–deeply involved in various women’s rights organizations in the United States. As President of the Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, her leadership has impacted numerous organizations focusing on political and judicial transparency and reform, human rights, and gender and reproductive justice. When she came to our 25th anniversary gala in New York, Jennifer was struck by the parallels between the issues facing women in the US and those facing women across the world. 

In 2016 Jennifer helped establish the Give Lively Foundation Inc, a powerful and practical fundraising platform that is free for nonprofits and intuitively easy to use for donors. She has generously contributed to wherever we have identified as our greatest needs, including our Legal Equality campaigns. But Jennifer’s support has gone beyond the monetary realm, helping us to make bold statements to propel our mission forward, even supplying our North American team with an office space! How fortunate we are to have a committed and dedicated philanthropist like Jennifer standing shoulder to shoulder with us every day. 

It is incredible to reflect upon what we have accomplished with the help of these philanthropists and the rest of our global community. To each of these women, and to everyone across the world who has contributed to our mission, I say: Thank you. 

Their support–and yours–is crucial to the progress we’ve made and will continue to be an essential part of the work that lies ahead to make equality reality. 

With deep gratitude,

Yasmeen Hassan

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