When women don’t thrive, the community doesn’t thrive.

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By Gina Andersen, Triangle Community Foundation Community Programs Officer

On average, 15% of people in the Triangle are living at or below the federal poverty line, unable to meet their own basic needs. Poverty cannot be boiled down as a simple consequence of a lack of affordable housing, a weak education, or poor personal health.  It was created through systems, structures, and barriers, and leads to interconnected issues that wreak havoc not only on individual lives, but on our community’s health as well. And unfortunately, poverty disproportionately affects segments of our population.

Even though we live in a burgeoning region of opportunity, we have neighbors who are searching for a place to sleep, wondering where their next meal will come from, and waiting for that next paycheck so they can purchase their medications.  We know that many of those neighbors are women and girls, who are more likely to experience poverty than men and boys. We also know that likelihood is even greater for women of color and single parents. But why? The structures in place, the lack of access to opportunity, and the overwhelming challenge of making ends meet when raising a family are just a few factors that make it harder for a woman to become financially stable.

We believe that solutions to address poverty, especially for women, must include a range of decent employment opportunities combined with a network of social services – quality health care, child care, and housing support – that support healthy families. Women also face significant barriers to economic security based on their race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexuality, physical ability, and health status, and there is work to be done to advocate for solutions to dismantling these barriers. It’s important that all approaches promote the equal social and economic status of women by expanding their opportunities to balance work and family life as well.

At the Foundation, through our community development work with passionate, dedicated, and strong nonprofits on the ground, we know that comprehensive approaches that include components of housing, employment, and mental and physical health not only provide basic human needs, but also build individual self-sufficiency. We know that the gaps and challenges women face in our community are vast, and we don’t have all the answers. But with knowledge, comes empowerment, and that empowerment can impact our entire community.  That’s where you come in.

We need your help to learn more. It is for this reason that the focus is on women at Triangle Community Foundation’s annual What Matters community luncheon this spring. For the past few years, the Foundation has focused the annual educational event under the umbrella of “A Region of Opportunity,” diving into issues like equity and our region’s kids. This year’s focus on women will explore gender inequality specifically as it relates to issues causing poverty. The event is typically attended by over 500 leaders from various sectors in the Triangle, and will be held on Tuesday, April 24, at the Raleigh Convention Center, with keynote speaker Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole. Tickets are on sale for the lunch, which includes optional opening sessions with local experts, at the Foundation’s website at www.trianglecf.org.

 

About the Foundation

Triangle Community Foundation inspires and mobilizes giving, leadership, and action in the Triangle region of North Carolina. By working together with donors and nonprofits to address critical community issues, we envision a vibrant Triangle that ensures everyone thrives. Since 1983, the Foundation has been committed to this work, and with the help of our generous family of donors, each year we grant over $25 million back into the community to make a difference. Learn more and join us at www.trianglecf.org.




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