I don’t have the power to look into a crystal ball and predict the future. None of us do. What I know though is that women and girls continue to fall behind. Our society has come such a long way in acknowledging inequalities but sometimes we do not see the basic inequities in our own backyard.
I found myself at age 30 in a relationship that had run its course. Everything that I had emotionally, mentally, and financially invested in over the prior years was ending. I was faced with how to start over. I did not know where to turn, I did not know what my options were, or what resources I had available to me. I had no liquid savings. I had been giving my boyfriend a rent check to the home he owned in his name– not mine. I called my brother because I did not have the courage to call a bank. I felt this shouldn’t be happening to me, a college educated, full time employed, confident women. But it was. I am a statistic– I am also a daughter, a sister, and today a wife and mother. I hope never to be that same scared woman again, but the reality is I could be.
What I do know is that if we don’t encourage girls and women to find their voices they never will. If we don’t create opportunities for them to advance in society, they won’t. 80% of Women in Arkansas do not have a college degree. This is not a woman you don’t know. It is your mother, your sister, your daughter, your best friend. The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas is the only statewide organization dedicated to advancing the status of girls and women. And that means we raise awareness about challenges particular to women, we create opportunities for girls and women to have the resources they need to be successful, and we invest and collaborate with other agencies that are making a difference in their lives.
I don’t have the power to look into a crystal ball and predict the future, but at this moment in time I wish I did so that I might alleviate concerns about what is on the horizon for women’s rights. What I can do is continue to champion the mission of our Foundation, the work we do to engage our community in helping women and girls find their voice. And you can join me.
In 2017 the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas will expand our Girls of Promise Initiative, dedicated to promoting careers and opportunities in STEM for girls in our State. We will also launch Women of Promise, an economic empowerment initiative, with the focus of bringing resources to women across the economic spectrum so they can learn to invest in themselves. Women of Promise is our commitment to creating a better life for women in our state, their families, and their communities.
Profound change comes when individuals, people and communities come together to decide to make a difference and do.
Donate to our new initiative HERE!
Anna Beth Gorman is the executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas.