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9 Ways to Fight for Gender Equity on the Lakeshore

9 Ways to Fight for Gender Equity on the Lakeshore

100 Years After Women’s Suffrage, the Fight to Give Everyone a Voice Continues

On Women’s Equality Day, and every day, fight with and for women in our community.
 
This Women’s Equality Day we are celebrating 100 years of the 19th Amendment, which gave all citizens the right to vote regardless of gender. But even with that accomplishment, it’s critical to recognize not all women have the same opportunities.
 
While the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Black women and other women of color continued to face barriers to voting. Today, Black people, Indigenous people and people of color still encounter hurdles to casting a ballot and being heard in our community. 
 
On the Lakeshore there is a group of women stepping up to address these challenges. They are part of Women United, a global group of women who work with United Way of the Lakeshore to increase equity in health, schools, jobs and other key aspects of life. 
 
If you are looking for a way to support gender equity and empower women of all races, identities and abilities take inspiration from the actions of these women.

Vote for issues impacting women. 

From your local school board to the U.S. Senate, it’s important to vote in every election. Go out and vote, bring your daughters to see you vote. Encourage other women to vote. Find ways to help people in traditionally marginalized communities vote. YOU can determine our future by understanding the issues that impact women in your community and voting for the issues that help women improve their health, education and financial stability. Register to vote at unitedway.org/voteunited

Write a lawmaker

The International Monetary Fund has said that the global pandemic could hit women the hardest. As more women face economic hardships, they and their families face greater rates of food insecurity. Recent legislative bills, like the CARES Act, do a great deal to support people who are food insecure. But there are many year-round anti-hunger programs that could use more support. You can help keep these important programs in place and encourage lawmakers to pass policies that prioritize access to healthy foods for families by writing letters or calling our local lawmakers. Here are a few suggestions on what to advocate for:
  • Protect access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s largest anti-hunger program. SNAP provides access to food for those who cannot afford it. It's an important temporary lifeline for millions of Americans.
  • Support the Child Nutrition program reauthorization. Call on Congress to protect and strengthen access to these programs to ensure all kids can be healthy and thrive.
  • Ask to increase funding for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that stabilizes families when their incomes and assets are limited and ensures babies, mothers, children and families have access to nutritious food in tough times.

Support women experiencing domestic violence.

Watch for the signs in women you meet. Have open conversations about the issue among family and friends. Distribute information about domestic violence shelters and hotlines in public places. However, never confront an abuser in public, as it can be dangerous for you and the woman. At United Way of the Lakeshore we partner with our allocated programs at Every Woman's Place (Muskegon), COVE (Oceana), and Legal Aid West Michigan (Muskegon, Newaygo, and Oceana) to support women in domestic violence situations. Click on the highlighted names to be redirected to their websites for more information. 

Volunteer your financial knowledge.

Women experiencing poverty are less likely to have bank accounts or access to loans, and many live paycheck to paycheck. For Black women the pay gap between their earnings and those of white men and women is substantial. Black women earn $0.61 for every $1 earned by white men and $0.83 for every $1 white women earn. Local services can provide financial coaching and classes online, as well as free tax preparation. If you’ve learned the financial basics, share your expertise with others through local programs or your own social channels. For more information on financial coaching and tax preparations visit our United Way Partner Agencies: 
  • Goodwill - MoneyWorks & Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) Programs (Muskegon, Newaygo, & Oceana)
  • Employer Resource Network - Success Coaches (Muskegon)
  • Love INC - Financial Literacy Programs (Muskegon, Newaygo)

Advocate for affordable child care.

For working women, child care is a huge expense, costing even more than a college education. That burden is compounded for single mothers and low-income families. Many states are considering legislation to help ease this burden and make child care more affordable. Call your legislators and attend meetings on the issue.

Childcare Navigators: 

At United Way of the Lakeshore, we have also hired two new Childcare Navigators! Their role will  focus on helping families navigate the childcare system – finding childcare, connecting them to financial  resources, assisting  with  technology, connecting them with Early Childhood resources such as Early On, Early Head Start, Play & Learn groups, parent support groups, and also be an advocate/voice for all families while  breaking down barriers for ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) families. They will also support Childcare providers by providing a resource to help their families so they can focus on the children. You can find out more by emailing ksayles@unitedwaylakeshore.org or by calling (231) 332-4014! 

Mentor a younger female colleague.

Relationships between women in the workplace can be a confidence booster and a source of cross-generational support. But many women, especially women who are part of communities that are marginalized lack sponsors at work. According to McKinsey & Company, “Black women and women with disabilities face more barriers to advancement, get less support from managers, and receive less sponsorship than other groups of women.” Do you know a younger woman who would benefit from your professional experience? Don’t be afraid to reach out for a coffee meeting to get the conversation started.

Join Women United.

Women United, a growing, global group of more than 75,000 women, is dedicated to creating more opportunities for everyone. By networking, sharing ideas, pooling their resources and focusing their time on key causes, members have raised more than $2 billion since 2002. 

Mentor a teenage girl.

You may remember the many challenges that young women face during adolescence. Another adult to provide advice and a sympathetic ear can be a huge benefit, especially to young women experiencing poverty or who have experienced trauma. 

Donate to United Way of the Lakeshore.

We fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in the community. We help thousands of women and girls learn to read, graduate from high school, get job training and financial coaching, find apartments and jobs, and live healthy lives. 

Today is your chance to stand up for women in your community.  Make one of these power moves on August 26, 2020, Women’s Equality Day.

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