After seeing the importance of highlighting data that focused on the economic security of women and girls in Forsyth County, the Fund committed to producing a report of its nature every five years. While we chose a print format for our two previous reports, we decided to take a different approach with our third Through a Gender Lens report by presenting it as an interactive microsite with the goal to make the information more accessible and engaging.
Never could we have imagined when we produced our first report what challenges the year 2020 would bring, especially for women and girls. We know from preliminary national research that women and girls across the country are being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to fear of exposure and the loneliness of social isolation, some women have had to juggle being caregivers and even part-time teachers to little ones while working from home, as others have had to figure out how to make ends meet after losing their jobs. Although it is too early to provide data that specifically speaks to the impact COVID-19 has had on women and girls in Forsyth County in this report, we know that the pandemic has only enhanced the gender and racial inequities you will see throughout the data on this site.
In recent years, The Women’s Fund Board has engaged in conversations about the intersection of gender and race, recognizing that the experiences of women of color are different from their White counterparts. The repeated racial injustices we have seen in this year alone has only made it more critical for The Women’s Fund to analyze the role systemic racism has played in the lives of women and girls. Throughout the report, we have provided historical and social context to provide examples of systemic factors that have influenced the data in the report, knowing that there are historic and current policies and practices that have intentionally and unintentionally harmed people of color and women throughout our country’s history. Examples of these policies include the National Recovery Act of 1932 that forbade more than one family member to have a government job, resulting in many women losing their jobs, and the government-backed redlining in the 1930s that prevented people of color from purchasing homes in certain neighborhoods. These policies and practices, along with countless others, have prevented women from having access to the same economic opportunities as men and presented impenetrable barriers for people of color to be able to build wealth at the same rate as their White counterparts.
Acknowledging that our country’s policies and practices have negatively impacted women and people of color adds a fundamental element to the story told by the data in this report. These outcomes are not due to the fault of an individual woman, nor did they happen by chance. Providing this context increases awareness and understanding as to why women overall have consistently higher rates of poverty than men and why Black and Brown women in our community are experiencing higher rates of poverty and income insufficiency compared to White women.
As a Women’s Fund, we have focused our grantmaking on programs that provide tools and resources for women and girls in our community to become financially secure, remove barriers to opportunities often taken advantage of by boys and men, and create social change around the issues affecting women and girls. We continue to believe that collectively investing in women and girls in this way is critical to ensuring all women and girls in our community thrive. We also continue to recognize that advocating for policies and practices that intentionally benefit women, especially women of color who are faced with both gender and race inequities, is key to fulfilling our mission to build economic security for women and girls in Forsyth County.
People ultimately create policies and practices. This means we all have the power to influence the creation of policies and practices that positively impact women, as well as the power to challenge those that do not. This report was designed to provide the data our community needs to encourage difficult yet necessary conversations about gender and race equity and to motivate readers to advocate for policies that will address many of the issues which are negatively affecting women and girls in our community. We hope you will share this microsite with your friends, family, and coworkers and engage in conversations around what you have learned and the actions you plan to take as a result. We as a Fund are committed to doing the same and will be hosting several virtual dialogues about the report throughout 2021. We look forward to engaging with you and invite you to join our efforts as a Fund to positively impact the lives of the women and girls in our community.