Happy Birthday, Women AdvaNCe

Laura and Lilly 3BY LAURA EDWARDS     Every year on my daughter’s birthday, I remember the day she was born. I remember holding her in my arms for the very first time, in awe that I helped to make something so small and perfect. Today I get to celebrate the birth of another one of my collaborations. The Women AdvaNCe website went live one year ago today.

While my love for Women AdvaNCe could never compete with my love for Lilly (— nothing competes with my love for Lilly), I’m as amazed and inspired by this organization as I am by my daughter. Only one year old and Women AdvaNCe has already become a hub for conversation on the issues that matter to North Carolina women and families.

When Executive Director Kim-Marie Saccoccio and I hit the “go” button on Women AdvaNCe one year ago, we crossed all our fingers and toes that 1,000 women would get involved within our first year. That goal got blown out of the water. We coordinated North Carolina’s first-ever women’s summit, activated 17 AdvaNCe Teams, and published over 270 articles with original content. Women AdvaNCe has formed a partnership with the Center for American Progress as well as the North Carolina Justice Center. We did all this in 365 days with a small, scrappy team of board and staff members and an ever-growing, enthusiastic network of 2,500 North Carolina women. I couldn’t be more proud, but I’m not surprised.

I knew Women AdvaNCe would fill a gap in the lives of North Carolina women because it fills a gap in my life. I don’t have time to read five online news sites every morning—heck, I barely have time for breakfast. I wanted to create a friendly, nonpartisan one-stop spot for women who care about what goes on in our state. I and all the women I know is over-worked, underpaid, mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. But just because we’re busy doesn’t mean we don’t care about the policies impacting our families. When we come together as women, we become more than the sum of our parts. We become a force to be reckoned with, and a force that can create real change in North Carolina.

My seven-year-old daughter inspires me speak up about the inequalities facing women. I watch amazedly as she shares her toys with strangers and politely refuses to let someone cut her in line at the museum. Lilly amazes me with her strong sense of justice. Ever since she came out of the womb, she has been a champion for equality. She may be able stand up for herself on the playground, but I stand up for her everywhere else. She deserves a fair shot at life. Whether I like it or not, policies that get passed in Congress and the North Carolina legislature directly affect us both. Through Women AdvaNCe, I can learn about and support the policies that benefit my daughter.

Women AdvaNCe had an incredible first year thanks to you. Thank you for reading our articles, attending the women’s summit, and joining our AdvaNCe Teams. Thank you for helping build a safe, healthy, and female-friendly world for my daughter. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.




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