Happy International Women’s Day!
Happy International Women’s Day!
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I love the feeling of independence. As the school bus pulled up to my street corner, I stepped off with a bit of pep in my step. I let myself in the side gate and through the backdoor. I can’t forget to call my mom to tell her I’m safely in the house. But, first, a snack and cartoons. I’ve got this. As a six-year-old in kindergarten, I stayed home alone until my brother walked home from school three hours later. He was in second grade.
I’m thankful for Rachel, Nancy, and Mary, women in the neighborhood who were the neighborhood stay-at-home moms. They made themselves available to us in case of an emergency or to offer lunch or a mid-afternoon snack. Simply put, my mom could not miss work when we were sick, or she had no sitter for us throughout the summer. Over time, my mom would take on several part-time jobs, working many hours a day to make ends meet.
While every neighborhood may not have a caring group of moms who watch over the latchkey kids on the block, there are caring groups such as Texas Women’s Foundation. Over the past six years, I have served as a Board Director for the Texas Women’s Foundation, an organization that is a leading driver of meaningful social and economic change for women and girls across Texas. Powered by statewide research that reveals the economic issues that impact women in Texas, the Foundation drives innovative change through grant-making, advocacy, and solution-based leadership programming.
For example, working mothers make up more than 65% of the Texas workforce and spend a significant percentage of their income on childcare. The Foundation’s Child Care Access Fund supports early childhood and after-school educational programs to increase access to quality, affordable child care that will allow women to sustain employment. As a young person, I, too, benefitted from participating in programs similar to these. I eventually attended summer enrichment programs focused on writing, science, and engineering. These experiences over the years provided opportunities for me to learn about the greater world around me and continue to nurture that independence which fueled my desire to learn and become confident in leadership.
Together Texas Women’s Foundation and Southwest Airlines, along with other community partners, are addressing the issues we know women face daily. Women are vital contributors to our workforce, and for our economy to flourish, it is essential that we invest in equipping and supporting women to be Leaders. Through our partnership, we support programs that build and strengthen the pipeline of women in leadership positions. Among several leadership programs, my favorite is the Young Women’s Initiative. This cross-sector effort provides resources and training to amplify the voices of young women of color, empowering them to advocate, lead, prosper economically, and realize their full potential.
Today—on International Women’s Day—I invite you to take action by investing in women and girls in your community. Olympian sprinter Allyson Felix recently spoke at a Texas Women’s Foundation luncheon, and her message was to “leave a lasting legacy by building those up around you.” The neighborhood moms encouraged and poured into me as a young kindergartner, allowing my mom to work and provide for our family. Your simple acts of kindness can create a ripple effect. So consider mentoring or championing a woman in your network. Or join the Texas Women’s Foundation’s Army of Advocates. Let’s all find ways to build up the women around us!
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