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Women Supporting Women Leads to Local Change

March 25, 2021

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By Laurie Everhardt, Director of Development

During March, the spotlight on women, our achievements, and unfortunately gender inequality in society, is in full force. Even with recent increased attention, disparities continue nationally and locally. Here in Black Hawk County, women are industry and community leaders and lead the way in their fields. Women are also receiving higher educational degrees at a greater rate than men at our local institutes of higher learning. Yet, inequality continues to create barriers for women and girls. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2019 in Iowa, full-time female employees earned 1.35 times less than full-time male employees, a difference of over $16,000 a year. This same data shows the largest demographic living in poverty is females ages 18-24.  

The charitable giving landscape also shows inequities in regard to contributions to charities dedicated to women’s specific causes. According to the 2020 Women and Girls Index report by the Women’s Philanthropic Institute (WPI), a research arm of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, even with an increased awareness of sexual harassment and assault, calls for equal pay and representation, and policies directly impacting women’s rights, just 1.6% of all charitable giving in 2017 was received by women’s and girls’ organizations. The good news is women’s specific philanthropic support continues to grow.  

Increased awareness and emphasis of issues impacting women and girls is not the only positive for charitable growth for organizations. Today, more women are leading the charitable decision-making process, and they are making charitable investments to create change for other women and girls. As women lead the charitable charge, women’s foundations and funds, like the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa’s Women’s Fund, become more popular, and through increased membership and member giving, can do more to support women and girls. Funds like the CFNEIA’s Women’s Fund provide a unique opportunity for charitable women to shape the future of their communities, specifically in regard to issues affecting women and girls and the organizations leading the way. 

In Black Hawk County, CFNEIA’s Women for Good program helps women who care about local issues give and impact local nonprofits serving women and girls. Women for Good members recommended over $21,000 in grants in 2020 from the Women’s Fund. The group has granted over $120,000 from CFNEIA’s Women’s Fund since it was established in 1999 by a generous gift from local philanthropist Pauline Barrett. While this funding has made strides toward addressing women’s and girls’ issues in Black Hawk County, the need still greatly outweighs the available funding, with over $236,000 in grant requests in 2020 alone.

Thankfully, Women for Good and the Women’s Fund are examples of the growing impact groups of women can make for women and girls in their local communities. Women’s funds provide women, who have embraced philanthropy as a method to bring about social change, a place to carry out their belief in the importance of investing in women’s and girl’s lives.

Women are influencers and leaders in our communities and through our philanthropy. CFNEIA’s Women for Good program and the Women’s Fund are bringing women (and their charitable power) and effective nonprofits serving women and girls together to advance issues of gender equality.