North Carolina has consistently had the ninth highest adolescent pregnancy rate in the country. It is also the eighth most likely state for human trafficking. At WomenNC, a Mary’s Pence Grantee based out of Cary, North Carolina, innovative and resourceful young college students are addressing inequalities in their own communities, as well as challenging national and international injustice that affects women around the world.
Amanda Eubanks, the co-chair of the Fund Development committee of WomenNC, described the WomenNC Fellowship Program as “rooted in the idea of local to global and global to local.” She explained that every fellow chooses a research topic that is aligned with the U.N. goals from the Commission for the Status of Women (CSW). After picking a topic, each fellow decides on a local North Carolina organization to volunteer with, and on which they will model their research. They present their research in North Carolina. Then, they represent North Carolina at the annual United Nations CSW Conference in New York. Afterwards, they return and present their UN experience and research findings to their community. Local, global, local.
WomenNC is an all-volunteer organization, whose mission is to lead North Carolina’s youth in the elimination of injustice against women and girls. Mary’s Pence funds have gone into growing the WomenNC CSW Fellowship Program, which, since 2009, has trained 23 young women and men who have gone on to influence their peers and respective communities. Fellows challenge national and global issues, from high rates of female poverty, rape, and domestic violence, to a basic lack of education, technology, and access to affordable health care.
Many of these injustices affecting women around the world are all the more damaging by their relative invisibility, and the lack of awareness and resources in place to fight them. “Look at the data,” says Amanda, “to date, women still do not earn equal pay for equal work, despite the fact that women are outpacing men in advanced degrees and heading up more households than ever before.” Even the well-known, but maddening statistic that women earn 78 cents to the white, male dollar varies dramatically across racial lines (64% for African American women and 54% for Hispanic or Latina women).
WomenNC empowers a new generation of intelligent, educated leaders fighting for women’s rights, and thus, human rights. They provide the resources, guidance, and platform for these students to develop skills in research, policy, and public speaking, as well as networking opportunities. The experience teaches young women how to fight for their own equality, and educates young men in how to be allies. “You cannot have a one-sided movement with men and women working against one another,” explains Amanda, “In order to bring about true change and break the barriers of institutional injustices and patterns of traditional injustices against women, men need to be educated and involved.”
Their website states that WomenNC “spreads awareness of and provides opportunities to engage in issues important to equality for women and girls.” WomenNC’s efforts have touched people all over the world. Over the last five years, the organization has sparked dialogue with over 75,000 people, igniting change that both starts and ends within their own communities.
Want to find out about how you can get involved with WomenNC? Check out their webpage!