Habitat for Humanity: Empowering and Engaging Women Through Building



BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN

The collective power of women coming together.

What does this phrase mean to you? Is it the title of “girl boss”? Maybe the phrase, “community over competition”? With Habitat for Humanity, it’s the “Women Build” program.

Started in 1991 by Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, the Women Build has provided women with an opportunity to take actionable steps in serving their communities, specifically around affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County adopted this concept in 1999 and will continue to provide the opportunity for local women starting this month, as they announce a revamped Women Build program on March 8th, in honor of International Women’s Day.

Women Build’s goal is to empower women to help families build strength, stability, and independence. In the past, this has been a literal build: women working on all aspects, from marketing and fundraising all the way to being on the build site and constructing a home. “Women from different industries and communities join this effort and find their place to match their resources or skill set, to build a home for a family,” said Libbie Mayr, the Director of Marketing for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County.

The focus on women isn’t surprising: fifteen percent of adult women lived in poverty in 2017 and made up 66% of the low-wage workforce, and a female heads more than three out of four single-parent families. These sobering statistics are probably going to become even direr as the economy recovers from COVID – an economy that has put extra stresses on women – before the pandemic, women still earned, on average, 80 percent of what the average male earned – a statistic that is worse for Black and Hispanic women.

“Women Build is a great way for women to come together to make new bonds, build, and either lend an existing talent or learn new skills,” said Libbie. “It’s always been a really welcoming group, and if you’re not comfortable on the actual build site, we are introducing new ways to participate this year.”

As part of the new, reimagined Women Build here in Forsyth County, there are opportunities to join like-minded women as a part of a new giving society, in a series of empowerment classes, and of course, on the construction site. Even if you are new to a home construction site, this is a great way to safely learn a new skill, as you’ll have support from folks who have built and renovated Habitat homes.

“With the equity issues that exist, we believe that access to a safe, affordable, and healthy place to live shouldn’t be a privilege; it should be a right,” said Libbie. “Forsyth County is ranked third worst in the nation for economic mobility, with less than 4.8% of families residing in Forsyth County able to change their income or wealth over their lifetime. We see owning a quality home as a way to improve economic mobility for local families and a way to create generational wealth.”

“Women Build is truly harnessing the collective power of women coming together to change the future for families in our community.”

See what is new with this year’s Women Build! Keep an eye out for the official rollout of events or contact Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County to see how you can become involved:

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts: @habitatforsyth

habitatforsyth.org

habitat@habitatforsyth.org


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