Today is International Women’s Day. For more than a century, women and men of all races and ethnicities have come together to celebrate the achievements and progress towards gender equality. We celebrate the heroic sacrifices of brave women before us – women who spent their lives paving a path towards gender parity. International Women’s Day also reminds us of what still needs to be done and serves as a call to action to continue the fight.
Over the last century we have seen women become elected officials, sports icons and astronauts. Women now have a higher college admission rate than men and more women go to the polls to vote than ever before. Yet the challenges for American women are still substantial: 200,000 single moms live on an income less than $40,000, 85% of domestic abuse victims are women, 2/3 of illiterate people are women and the list goes on. And that’s just in the U.S.
Our work at United Way of Metro Chicago is focused on advancing the common good and providing the basic needs and opportunities that all people deserve. We celebrate International Women’s Day to bring awareness to the fight for gender equality and basic human rights that women continue to face in our own communities.
At United Way of Metro Chicago, we take this global issue and address it locally. For example, in West Chicago many working mothers have trouble accessing the products needed to meet their family’s basic needs. In partnership with the school district and WeGo Together for Kids, the lead agency in the West Chicago Neighborhood Network, United Way helped to address this issue through a series of Family Wellness Nights. Each event offered free medical, dental and vision screenings, free water filters, health and utility savings education sessions and $5.00 car seats. Throughout Chicago, approximately 50% of all women who are homeless report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. To support these women we partner with women’s shelters that provide a safe haven, as well as the support and services necessary for victims of domestic violence to experience recovery and healing.
We fight for every person in every neighborhood. No matter the obstacles. No matter the odds. We celebrate International Women’s Day because it’s in our DNA. International Women’s Day is an opportunity for people all over the world to coalesce and fight against the gender inequality that is still taking place. The challenges that women face are far-reaching and impactful, but the largest and most complex challenges can always be solved through the power of a community working together towards a common goal.
To join the fight share why International Women’s Day is important to you in the comments below, or by tagging us @unitedwaychi on social media.