BY SHAMIKA STARKE
For many, the “American Dream” signifies the epitome of freedom and one’s right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”; it represents the opportunity to prosper and achieve ones’ individual version of success, regardless of race, class, gender, or circumstance of birth. But the reality is that the American dream encompasses a set of ideas that are not equally accessible to all.
Although I have achieved what many would term success according to societal standards, to reflect on my personal journey in pursuit of the “American Dream” triggers both a sense of pride and tangible feelings of discomfort. Pride that emanates from the firm foundation upholding my success; a success rooted in the power and impact of a strong, wide-spread support system. And discomfort, triggered by the consideration of intersectionality that factors into my personal experience – as a black woman, a daughter to immigrant parents and one who has risen from poverty; to survive and thrive in this society requires that I also learn to navigate formidable challenges to my rights, worth, intelligence and humanity.
But even within my discomforts, there is still hope. Hope that is derived from the empowered action and philanthropic efforts of countless individuals, non-profit organizations and initiatives like The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, that continue to advocate for women and girls so that we may all know and experience justice, prosperity and personal success.
The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem envisions a community where all women and girls of all backgrounds are engaged at all levels of society and have equal opportunities, skills and access to resources which empowers them to be independent, self-sufficient and contributing members of the community. Since 2007, the Fund has provided grants to community and grassroots organizations whose programs have worked to address systemic and social issues affecting the economic security of women and girls in Forsyth County.
Good and impactful work is taking place by committed individuals and community organizations, but more work still needs to be done. Significant challenges and disparities continue to harm the economic security of women and girls in our community. Lasting and impactful change demands that we leverage our individual and collective voice and resources to champion women – to take action in support of causes or issues that are important to you and ultimately for the benefit of all humanity.
As you think of ways that you can have an impact, The Women’s Fund has provided Seven Ways to Champion Women, for your consideration:
- Support Women – support access to affordable essential needs such as housing, healthcare, food, and transportation;
- Encourage Women – encourage entry into high-paying jobs, such as in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM);
- Pay Women – pay a livable wage with adequate benefits and help close the gender wage gap;
- Mentor Women – mentor those in your professional and personal lives to help women identify and develop their talents;
- Promote Women – promote those in your professional and civic organizations into leadership roles;
- Empower Women – empower through funding and training opportunities for women’s micro-enterprise development so that women start, maintain, and grow their own business; and
- Recognize Women – recognize women’s achievements and acknowledge those who have opened pathways for others in the community.
To promote a shared future where all women and girls have access to equitable opportunity for success, it is important that we take the lead as Champions of Change – to advocate on behalf of women and girls in our community. By supporting programs that create opportunities to improve the economic, educational, physical health and emotional well-being of women and girls, the Women’s Fund believes that collectively, we can improve the overall quality of life in our community.
To learn more about the Women’s Fund, and the collective economic impact that women like you and I can have as champions of change in our community, visit our Facebook page or our website (womensfundws.org). And, please join us at our 13th annual luncheon on November 15th at the Benton Convention Center from noon to 1:30 p.m.