The goal of Women Empowered is to ensure economic security for all Arkansas women, as well as improve the financial futures of those who have already achieved economic security.
Through this initiative we educate, advocate, and innovate around issues of women’s economic security, such as asset building, access to capital, and the wealth gap.
We collaborate with stakeholders throughout the state to support policies, programs, and initiatives that work to close the gender and racial wealth gap. We inform our work through our own research, as well as the research of others. As part of this initiative, we are part of the Arkansas chapter of the Asset Funder’s Network where we also participate in the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative.
Partner with Us!
The WFA is currently seeking funding partners to support the operational capacity and research efforts of the WFA to build its newest initiative, Women Empowered (WE). With funding, WFA will be able to shift WE from a programming format to a strategic, systemic economic policy initiative for women in Arkansas. Funds would support our steering committee, operations, and research, all of which will enable us to build WE in an efficient, methodical, and responsible way.
WFA commissioned a report in 2018, Economic Indicators for Women in Arkansas: State, County, & Region, which showed that the eastern edge of the state has both the highest rates of women living below the poverty line and the most women owned businesses. The Women’s Economic Mobility Hub works to leverage those findings by applying a racial and gender lens to a program designed specifically to support Black women owned businesses as vehicles for economic mobility.
The WEM Hub is designed to support Black women-owned businesses by providing technical assistance along with additional resources, including $5,000 in unrestricted grant funds to help scale their businesses.
An ideal WEM Hub participant will be able to commit to a six-month program in which Black women entrepreneurs can access tailored support services through a combination of online trainings and in-person meetings, including:
Expert advice from leading industry professionals surrounding topics such as accounting and financial management, business development, legal services, and more;
Ongoing mentorship support and counsel;
Peer to peer learning sessions;
Communications, public relations, and marketing training;
Leadership skill development; and
Opportunity to establish a relationship with participating financial institutions.
Applications for our fourth WEM Hub cohort are currently closed.
Additional resources for women entrepreneurs can be found here.
Kristen Phantazia Smith Program & Communications Specialist
Women with Bachelor's Degrees or Higher
The statistics for women in Arkansas paint a bleak portrait of their economic opportunity.
State of Arkansas
Only 20% of women hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, with the overall state average hovering around 23% – all compared to the national average of 41%. Around 18% of women live in poverty and 41% of single parent households with children live in poverty, with 80% of single parent households led by women.
While these numbers only provide a general sketch, the need for WE is clear. Women’s wealth and economic status depend on access and opportunities in affordable childcare, education, and asset ownership, as well as public policies that shape this access. We want WE to tackle these issues and identify and work on them in a meaningful and effective way.
Our recent research found that Arkansas women’s labor force participation is 53%, compared with a national average of 58%. In Central Arkansas, women’s participation is the highest at 56%.
Women's Labor Force Participation
State of Arkansas
ARKANSAS WOMEN EARNINGS ON THE DOLLAR
Even though Arkansas women are making up over half the labor force, they are still earning less than men. White women in Arkansas make 78 cents on the dollar, Asian women make 74 cents, African American women make 66 cents and Latino/Hispanic women make almost half of what their white male counterparts make at 53 cents on the dollar.
African American Women
Latino / Hispanic Women
Our Gender Equity Scorecard
In partnership with a team of practicum students from The Clinton School of Public Service during the 2017-2018 school year, we created the Gender Equity Scorecard which is a tool to help Arkansas businesses improve gender equity in the workplace. The Scorecard is designed to be taken by a senior level executive and/or an HR Director to gauge the current status of gender equity in their company’s workplace. Businesses who submit a Scorecard will be eligible for a chance to win the annual “Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award” at the Arkansas Business of the Year Awards, presented by Arkansas Business Publishing Group.
Our Gender Equity Scorecard is currently being revamped to make sure that it is still an accurate reflection of what companies should be working toward to have an equitable work environment!
In 2022 we recruited companies to submit a Scorecard for the Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award from November-December 2021. Chenal Family Therapy was the winner of the 2022 Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award. If you have any questions about our Gender Equity Scorecard, please email Maddie Spickard, Director of Strategic Programs & Initiatives, at email@example.com
Maddie Spickard Director of Strategic Programs & Initiatives
Previous Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award Winners