By Sandy Wiegand, Copyeditor and Writer at Joining Vision and Action

Friday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. According to the United Nations, it’s “a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

Wow. Courage, determination … ordinary but extraordinary. That description almost seems written specifically about the female changemakers JVA works with. They’re worthy of celebrating.

Women’s impact

Women play an outsize role as society’s changemakers. In the United States, women make up some 75 percent of nonprofit and philanthropic sector employees.1 In 2018, more than 33 percent of U.S. women volunteered, providing service worth an estimated $94.5 billion.2 Strikingly, working moms donated more time than any other demographic, with a volunteer rate of 46.7 percent.3 And almost 55 percent of female U.S. residents donated $25 or more to charity.4

Some of the changemakers JVA has worked with, such as the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Work Options for Women and the Women’s Bean Project specifically work to improve economic, legal or other societal conditions for women. Many others focus less directly on women but nonetheless have a dramatic impact on women’s lives.

For example, in addition to supporting parents, Colorado’s early childhood councils provide education and financial assistance to caregivers—most of them women. Low-barrier clinics such as Clínica Tepeyac and Asian Pacific Development Center provide services such as access to prenatal care, women’s health screenings and/or services for survivors of domestic and other violence. What’s more, since women are more likely than men to live below the federal poverty level,5 many organizations that support people who are economically disadvantaged may be disproportionately serving women.

The work continues

Meanwhile, facts about domestic violence and women in poverty recall the other portion of the U.N. statement. In addition to celebrating the extraordinary changemaking women among us and reflecting on progress made, we must continue to “call for change.”

For the U.N., that means convening the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women on March 11 in New York. It also means renewed emphasis on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious set of 17 goals for creating a better and more sustainable future for all people.

Among the targets of the 2030 agenda?

  • Access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education for both girls and boys
  • An end to all discrimination against women and girls
  • An end to all harmful practices against women and girls

When goals align

Clearly, there is far to go to make these goals reality. But what’s also clear from reading these goals and following the efforts of the changemakers mentioned above—along with those of many others—is that alignment exists between their goals and those of the global organization. The changemakers we know and celebrate are tackling the big issues, and they’re part of a broader team across the country and world fighting similar battles in their communities.

And that’s how, through collective action, playing an extraordinary role in the history of one’s community becomes playing an extraordinary role in the history of countries. This International Women’s Day, JVA salutes the women working to change the world.

Check out more blogs by Sandy.

1 University of Denver—Colorado Women’s College. (2012). Benchmarking women’s leadership in the United States. P 120. Retrieved from https://womenscollege.du.edu/media/documents/BenchmarkingWomensLeadershipintheUS.pdf

2 Corporation for National and Community Service. (2018). Volunteering in America: Demographics. Retrieved from https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve/via/demographics

3 Corporation for National and Community Service. (2018). Volunteering in U.S. hits record high; worth $167 billion. Retrieved from https://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/volunteering-us-hits-record-high-worth-167-billion

4 Corporation for National and Community Service. (2018). Volunteering in America: Demographics. Retrieved from https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve/via/demographics

5 Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (February 2016.) Poverty, gender, and public policies. Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/wpallimport/files/iwpr-export/publications/D505-Poverty,%20Gender,%20and%20Public%20Policies.pdf