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Why Women’s Issues Are Community Issues

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We must work together to improve the economic security of women and children in our community.

By Beth Goff-McMillan, Sponsored by Austin Community Foundation, Photos by Korey Howell Photography and courtesy of ACF 

At the heart of a strong community are strong women. I have had the great fortune of amazing support and mentoring throughout my career. Without the support I received as a working single mother, I might not be where I am today—the CEO and partner at SKG, a highly successful woman-owned business enterprise in Austin.

Many other women are not so fortunate. In today’s world, women, especially working mothers, face many obstacles: increased costs for higher education; rising home and rental prices; a lack of affordable, quality child care; and access to preventative health care.

I recently read a statistic that said the difference between women’s and men’s median annual earnings ($9,140) would pay for at least four years of community-college tuition in Texas. If employed women in Texas were paid the same as men for comparable jobs, their poverty rate would be reduced by more than half.

The data is startling. And it’s why I feel passionate about the work of the Women’s Fund, a program and giving network of Austin Community Foundation. Because women’s issues are community issues, it takes the entire community to move the needle on supporting the economic stability of women. We believe when women are economically secure, safe and healthy, families thrive.

Established in 2004, the Women’s Fund has given more than $1.6 million to more than 60 local nonprofits aimed at improving the lives of women and children. The Women’s Fund has identified four major barriers to women’s advancement, and annually, we invest in nonprofit programs that addresses the following strategy areas:

  • Housing is the anchor to economic security for women and children, so the Women’s Fund invests in supportive services for women and children living in affordable housing.
  • Child care is an essential support system for women, so we invest in the expansion of proven programs/providers to increase access to child care for low-income families.
  • Education is a pathway out of poverty, and the Women’s Fund supports a path to postsecondary success and participation in the workplace.
  • Preventing unintended pregnancy is vital in maintaining a pathway to economic security, so the Women’s Fund invests in increasing access to long-acting reversible contraception.

While we are proud of the work being done, it’s not enough! We need more people helping us move the needle. Together, we can unlock Austin’s potential.

Join me Dec. 4 at Zach’s Topfer Theatre for Keyholder’18, an evening to convene and invest in women and children in Central Texas. Keyholder is one of Austin’s most inspiring and fun events to connect with thought leaders and support women in our community.

This year’s event will feature a keynote address by award-winning journalist and CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Drawing on her impressive career, she will reflect and share her extraordinary journey in journalism.

Visit keyholderaustin.org for details and tickets.

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