When it comes to promoting women’s rights, local government and organizations have just as much responsibility as national and state-run government and organizations do.
Having a local government that advocates for the rights of women and girls, is just as paramount as having policymakers and activists who push for equality on a larger scale. Each of the organizations below have different focuses when it comes to supporting women in their communities, but all of them have partnered with local government in some way to make local women’s lives safer, easier and more fulfilled.
The Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) is an NYC-based coalition focused on offering the support young women, particularly women of color, need. YWI works to create equality for all young women when it comes to opportunities in “healthcare, education, involvement in the justice system and economic development.” The initiative was founded by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in collaboration with the New York City Council. Since YWI’s inception, in October 2015, the organization has gathered a Young Woman’s Advisory Council (YWAC) to “participate in issue-based working groups, communications strategy development,” along with the Steering Committee, the group of policymakers, NYC Council members, advocates, and other local women in charge of the YWI.
YWI’s newest social media campaign, #SheWillBe, allows young women to share their selfies in the SheWillBe hashtag, and explain in the captions how they want the New York City Council to help them achieve their goals and aspirations. “Please tell my colleagues and me…what kind of services and support you need to make life easier and help you reach your goals,” Mark-Viverito wrote on the SheWillBe website. “We’re listening, and we’re ready to take action.”
The Alliance For Girls (AFG) is nationally recognized as the “largest regional alliance” of organizations specifically for girls and young women — with over “5,100 volunteers serving more than 250,000 girls across 6 Bay Area counties.” The organization champions young female leadership, as well as access to education on important issues plaguing the community, such as sex trafficking and exploitation, and domestic violence. AFG also supports its members in exploring STEM programs, caring for their physical and mental well-being, accessing quality education and athletics opportunities, and participating in local politics.
AFG has worked with the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families to advocate for services specifically geared towards supporting female and LGBTQ+ youth. The San Francisco children’s amendment now sets aside $50 million per year for these services.
GirlFoward is a little different than the other organizations on this list, in that it focuses specifically on helping young refugee women and girls. Based in Chicago and Austin, GirlFoward is a nonprofit that pairs refugee girls with individual mentors, and provides the girls with opportunities in local leadership and education programs. The organization’s program center provides a space for the girls to hang out in and connect not only with their mentors and GirlFoward staff, but with each other. GirlFoward recognizes the unique challenges that come with being a girl who has been uprooted to an entirely new place, and aims to ease that transition and give their girls the skills and confidence they need to succeed in their new cities.
Each of the above organizations show the impact local movements and government can have on the lives of women. As crucial as it is to spread awareness of women’s issues on a federal and statewide level, starting “small” can still improve the quality of life of many women and girls.
Does your city have any organizations or government programs to help support women? Let us know in the comments below.