On June 16 we hosted our first community gathering “PFI at Villa Poranek” during which more than 70 philanthropists, investors, foundations and civil society experts gathered in five parallel Salons to discuss some of the most pressing issues for Central Europe’s democracy.
The Salon conducted under the title: The Future of Philanthropy: The world-changing role of female philanthropists was introduced by Alyse Nelson and moderated by Aleksandra Gren. The discussion explored the evolving landscape of philanthropy and the crucial role that women play in shaping its future. The panellists examined how philanthropy can be a catalyst for addressing pressing issues such as gender equality, social justice, healthcare, education and sustainability. The focus was not only on the financial aspect of philanthropy, but also on the unique perspectives and approaches that women bring to the table.
The whole summary of the discussion is presented below.
The discussion explored the evolving landscape of philanthropy and the crucial role that women play in shaping its future. Traditionally associated with acts of charitable giving, philanthropy has changed significantly in recent years. This panel aimed to shed light on how female philanthropists are driving positive social change and the importance of their contributions in shaping a better world.
As global challenges become increasingly complex, the panellists examined how philanthropy can be a catalyst for addressing pressing issues such as gender equality, social justice, healthcare, education and sustainability. The focus was not only on the financial aspect of philanthropy, but also on the unique perspectives and approaches that women bring to the table.
At the beginning of the discussion, a few women shared their thoughts on their stories as philanthropists and what motivated them to take action. Based on this and their own experiences, the panellists agreed that more women in business means greater social impact and more money to spend on philanthropy, as women are more generous in sharing their capital for social causes.
The panellists also discussed how hard it is to achieve equality between men and women and how the pandemic has exacerbated it. According to some research, the time needed to achieve equality has risen from 99 years (which is already a long time) to 146 years. Reflecting on why this is important and why it concerns men, the panel noted that men should care about women’s rights not only because they have partners, sisters or daughters, but because it makes economic sense.
The Salon emphasised women activists often make the mistake of excluding men from their movement and thinking. It added that most men believe that women should have equal rights, but that this majority remains silent; women should invite them to join the process and show them that sometimes, to give women equality, men should make space for them. Inviting men is also important for the women in the movement because “we are not superheroes and we need support from our close people, fathers, partners”.
Another theme was how to prepare young women to lead the process of change in a natural way, not just by focusing on cultural pressure, but by addressing the issue indirectly. Throughout history, women have shown their innate capacity for empathy, compassion and nurturing, qualities that often underpin philanthropic efforts. Female philanthropists have been at the forefront of initiatives that have transformed lives, empowered communities and challenged existing systems of inequality. The Salon aimed to celebrate the impact of these women and envision a future where they continue to shape the philanthropic landscape.
The Salon discussed how women and men have different approaches to work, philanthropy and even basic responsibilities. Often, society undermines the meaning of small actions by women, without which many bigger things would not be possible. Women are often more willing to take risks to do something for the community, not just for themselves. A key example was Polish women’s behaviour after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, when they immediately rushed to help refugees by offering housing, medical assistance and care at temporary shelters.
The final part of the discussion focused on the extent to which women’s voices can be heard. It was mentioned that not everyone should have a loud voice in the public sphere but that, if anyone should, it is undoubtedly women. It is important for future female philanthropists to create platforms or find ways to be truly seen and heard. The fact that just 20% of voices in news reporting are female and just 10% of news stories are written by women underscores the space that could be filled with women’s messages.
The Salon emphasised the need to start this process with children and parenting. As women are predominantly involved in childcare, it can be challenging for adult men to fully grasp the need for change. However, involving men in parenting is crucial to help them understand the impact it has on individuals and society.
By concluding with these ideas, the discussion highlighted the importance of women’s active participation in shaping philanthropy, the need for equality, and the amplification of their voices. Inspired by the past and looking towards the future, society can create a space where women have equal opportunities to unleash their potential and help build a better, more equitable world.