According to Oxfam International, the majority of the world’s poor are women. It’s because even though we may have had great strides in terms of women’s empowerment, gender inequality is still one of the most widespread forms of inequality across the globe, both in first-world and developing nations.
This is why if you want to help widen the gender inequality gap, you need not look far or go to developing nations to help. In your city or town alone, you would find low-income neighborhoods and how women and children are the most vulnerable or impoverished among them.
If you are passionate about helping change the lives of economically-challenged women in your community, here are some ways you can start.
Be intersectional in your approach
When trying to help economically-challenged women, make sure that you are intersectional in your views, approach, and strategy. Intersectionality believes that the categorizations of class, race, and gender are interconnected and that they overlap to combine various modes of privilege and discrimination.
Practically, it just means that if you truly want to help, you want to help women of all types, ages, and races. It might look like helping shelter LGBTQIA+ women that are experiencing homelessness. It might look like helping disabled women apply for disability claims. Intersectional help can also mean recognizing how women of color may have a more challenging time finding access to quality healthcare.
Provide child care
One of the biggest blocks for mothers in low-income neighborhoods is the lack of child care. The availability of safe places that can help provide care for their children can significantly affect their participation and productivity. If you truly want to empower women in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, set up spaces for child care—one that’s safe and where their children can learn and grow. Partner with educators and family life and child development specialists to develop the best type of child care system for the neighborhood and how you can fund the initiative.
Lobby for better policies
While there is value and necessity in providing for women’s immediate needs, what will truly create lasting change is helping flip the systemic problems that maintain the status quo. Thankfully, the beauty of the United States constitution is that we have the freedom to lobby and petition the government to make changes. If there is a policy in your state that you feel does not meet the interests and highest good of women, here are some tips for successful lobbying, both at the national and state level:
- Consider partnering with lobby groups so that you don’t have to start from scratch. If knowledgeable people are already doing the work, you only need to get in touch with them and participate in what they’re already doing.
- Keep doing your homework. Political issues are often multifaceted and complex, and they often require studying from all sides. Find out where your legislator stands on the issue that’s important to you.
- Be polite and affable when you speak with the legislator or staff members. When you lobby, you will most likely be speaking with staff members for a substantial amount of time. Do not underestimate their power to help sway your legislator—more often than not, they have a say on how an issue is presented to a politician or legislator.
Champion education and economic independence
Studies show that one of the biggest reasons abused women don’t leave is because they are financially reliant on their abusers. Empowering women means educating them on their rights and giving them the freedom and opportunity to start small businesses or find employment. Here are some examples of how you and your company can achieve these goals:
- Providing scholarships for economically-disadvantaged women who want to go back to school but can’t afford it.
- Handing out micro-loans for entrepreneurial women who have big and viable ideas but don’t necessarily have the capital to launch a business.
- Organizing free seminars or workshops for women who want to learn more about profitable skills like coding and other STEM-related fields.
- Holding seminars on women’s health and sex education, especially for students and young people who may not have had access to this information growing up.
Women truly hold up half the sky, and if we want to make the world a better place, we need to empower women across the globe. Women are an untapped resource, and it will take changes at the policy level and in the community to ensure that every woman is given the rights, freedom, and opportunities she deserves.