Women’s History Month

We are nearly to end of March — and thus, near to the conclusion of Women’s History Month. And in visiting the National Park Service exhibit on Eleanor Roosevelt, this particular quotation caught my attention:

Champion of domestic social reform, economic justice, and human rights, Eleanor believed citizenship demanded participation, saying “We will be the sufferers if we let great wrongs occur without exerting ourselves to correct them.”

This month does indeed focus on women’s history, but in remembering and honoring great women leaders of the past, we must strive to give women and girls the resources to become great leaders in the future. Since the successful passage of the 19th Amendment, and since Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House and the United Nations, this country has made incredible progress: in education for women, in representation, in leadership. Yet countless women still need and deserve the resources to make their own personal progress — which is why non-profits focused on women and girls are such vital parts of our community:

- Police receive nearly 31,500 domestic violence-related crime calls (one every 17 minutes!) in a given year, yet DC offers only 96 designated emergency shelter beds for abused women. The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides crisis intervention and safety planning to these women and their families.

- 85% of those who seek services through domestic violence intake centers never receive legal representation. Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment (SAFE) advocates are experts in filing for a protection order and obtaining vital social services.

- America’s families will not make ends meet until women’s work is well paid and all low-income workers have access to secure jobs, so Wider Opportunities for Women is working hard to prepare women and girls for jobs that will support them.

- 70% of incarcerated women have one child or more under the age of 18 and they need support and training to become dependable parents. That is where Friends of Guest House come in.

- Middle-grade girls often fall through the cracks, as they are too old for traditional aftercare and too young for the jobs programs created for high schoolers. So Interstages offers academic support and arts enrichment especially for that age group in Wards 7 and 8.

- With campuses at THEARC and Washington View, Washington Middle School for Girls nurtures female students from troubled, low-income families, who are often under-served by social service agencies.

- War, poverty, prejudice, and physical distance prevent 83% of girls in Africa from completing secondary education. Thus in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Cameroon, and Benin, the Batonga Foundation provides scholarships to driven girls in grades 7 through 12.

- With chapters worldwide, the Polaris Project has served 140 victims of trafficking, its hotlines have processed over 5,000 calls, and its network includes 6,000 volunteers.

These and many other small non-profits celebrate Women’s History all long by building a great future for women from all walks of life — so let’s salute them!

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