I thought it would be appropriate to post this away from the break up post...don't worry this is so far from the reason things ended. Trust me.
But at any rate, it is a very important issue and I thought I would shed some light on it in my little corner of the blogosphere.
It's scary to think that as far as we've come by 2008, there is still prolific violence against women, both internationally and in our own country.
Here's a freaky statistic from the UN Development Fund for Women: "At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime."
Yes we hear about international issues in far away countries (for a particularly jarring issue, visit the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women website). Unfortunately Milwaukee, with its high poverty rates, is far from immune from the issue of violence against women. Fortunately, there are phenomenal programs in place in this city to start chipping away at the roots of the problem. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to participate in the Young Professionals of Milwaukee's (YPM) Service Circuit program, which was the predecessor to FUEL Milwaukee's Adopt-A-Nonprofit program. Through Service Circuit I became involved in the United Way of Milwaukee's Healthy Girls Project which targets funds to organizations which help better women's lives. From the website:
The funded programs respond to one of two issue areas identified as impediments to good health and well being of girls in our community: teen pregnancy and sexual violence against girls.In addition to planning a donor event for this program, those of us in the volunteer group became exposed to several of the non-profits funded through the initiative. About a year or two after that volunteer experience, I served on the public service committee for Ad 2 Milwaukee where we created a campaign for a preventative organization, PEARLS for Teen Girls (see more info below).
Through these experiences I gained hope for what can be done at a local level to eradicate violence against women. Here are some Milwaukee organizations helping tackle the problem. Please leave any more that you know of in the comments.
The Task Force on Family Violence: "The Task Force on Family Violence provides advocacy, education and resources to keep people safe."
Milwaukee Women's Center: Their mission is "To provide holistic care to empower women and families who are experiencing abuse to live safe, independent and healthy lives." I had a friend who worked here for many years and could not speak more highly of the services this organization provided. Through the Healthy Girls Project we visited a safe house and learned firsthand about this empowering organization. One of the most impressive things that sticks with me years later is the fact that many of their staff were women who had used the Women's Center services in the past and overcome cycles of abuse to help other women.
YWCA Milwaukee: A national organization that has a large presence in this city. They really live by their simple mission of "Eliminating racism, empowering women." In addition to providing business education resources to women, they also coordinate the FAITH Program which helps women find transitional housing to move forward in creating a better life for themselves and their children.
The Counseling Center of Milwaukee / Pathfinders: Aims "to help people in need take charge
of their lives, connect to others and contribute to the community." Primarily focused on issues surrounding teen runaways, helping break the cycles of violence early.
Sojourner Truth House: "We provide shelter, safety, support, education and advocacy to break the cycle of violence because domestic respect is the right of every woman, man and child."
The Alma Center: "The Alma Center works to motivate peaceful change through education in intimate relationships, family and community." This is a very unique organization in that it focuses on training for men to unlearn habits of violence against women. I know a couple people who are involved with this organization and it's another one that can't get enough rave reviews for the work that it does.
PEARLS for Teen Girls: "PEARLS for Teen Girls is committed to being the community's signature program for maximizing girls' self-development. True girl/adult partnerships result in building and living PEARLS attributes: Personal Responsibility, Empathy, Awareness, Respect, Leadership and Support." PEARLS is near and dear to my heart because of the experience I had with the Ad2 campaign. I cannot describe in a short blog post what an amazing organization it truly is. It fights the issue of violence against women by empowering girls at an early age to take a stand and start making a difference in their communities. The dedication of its board and staff is truly inspirational. I am very excited that PEARLS is an adopted non-profit by FUEL this year as well.
Again, this is a pretty heavy issue to think about and it may seem despairing to wonder where do we start and how do we make an impact. But there is the occasional gleam of good news that makes you glad these organizations are busting their tails. The good news here? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week that the teen birth rate in Milwaukee is at a 28-year-low.
Slowly but surely we can make change.
What local organizations am I missing here that help this cause? If you're not a Milwaukeean, what are organizations in your community doing similar things?