Today is International Women’s Day. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the event. Although it’s much better known abroad, it’s beginning to gain some traction here in the U.S. While thinking about how far women have come, and how far we still have to go, I couldn’t help but think of our many local nonprofits that are working to help advance women’s issues. Here are ten nonprofits in our community that are working for women:
The Track Club is the nonprofit host of the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler. For the past eighteen years, this all-women’s event has encouraged and inspired women of all ages to train and run (or walk) four miles to raise money for the UVa Cancer Center Breast Care Program. Is 2011 the year you’re going to join them?
Since 1946, the League of Women Voters has been working at the local, state, and national levels to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. They’re the ones who put together that handy non-partisan voting guide that so many people turn to before heading to the polls on Election Day. They also host candidate debates and political discussions for the public.
SARA serves those who have experienced sexual assault. You probably already know that they offer a 24-hour hotline and counseling services. You may not know that they offer self-defense courses for women and work with our local schools to implement prevention education. SARA also provides trained volunteers that help survivors by accompanying them to the emergency room, health care facilities, police station, or court.
Everybody thinks they know what Planned Parenthood does, but I’m guessing there’s at least one thing listed below that’s news to you. They provide breast exams, Pap tests, anemia testing, thyroid screening, cervical cancer screening, infertility education, HIV and STD testing, and adoption referrals in addition to birth control, emergency contraception, and pregnancy planning services.
The Women’s Center offers leadership programs, mentoring services, counseling and career support for community members, students, staff and faculty. Programs include free short-term counseling, support groups, and a legal clinic. They are also the sponsors of the Young Women Leaders Program, a mentoring program that pairs middle school girls with UVa students, and IRIS: A Journal about Women.
VSDVAA is coalition of people and agencies devoted to ending sexual and domestic violence. They provide resources, networks, education, and advocacy. They also provide training for for victim advocates, police officers, doctors, social workers, therapists, and other professionals who work with survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
The Shelter offers emergency, temporary housing to victims of domestic violence in need of safety. They have a 24-hour hotline for survivors, family, and friends. They also offer counseling and case management. They even have a Pet-Safe foster program that provides temporary housing for victim’s animals so that they don’t have to stay behind in a violent situation.
For more than thirty years, FOCUS has worked to serve women in the areas of education, employment, and counseling. Today, they offer additional programs, such as Teensight, to address the problems of teen pregnancy, at-risk youth, and youth unemployment in our community. They also provide legal assistance and micro loans to women looking to start their own businesses.
The Women’s Initiative provides behavioral health services in the form of counseling (including services for the uninsured), support groups, and education for women with “challenging life situations.” They also offer workshops for stress relief, such as journal writing, time management, breathing techniques, and knitting.
Women’s Health Virginia works to enhance Virginia women and girls’ health and well being through education, research, and collaboration. This is a great place to find meetings, conferences, support groups and and other online resources related to women’s health.
While I’m on the topic of women in our community, I wanted to mention two upcoming events:
The Emily Couric Leadership Forum will be holding their annual awards luncheon on March 24th. The forum encourages women to adopt an active role in government, public issues, and policy debates affecting their communities; and to inspire young women to pursue activities which will enable them to become effective leaders.
The University of Virginia is “Celebrating Women of the University” March 25-26. This conference is in recognition of the 40th anniversary of full co-education and in celebration of the efforts of women both before, during, and after that transitional time.