2018 Kickball for a Cause donations are supporting the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF), a non-profit whose mission is to achieve equality for women and girls, now and for generations to come. WGF is breaking down barriers so that every girl can rise, and every woman can soar .
Meet the Women and Girls Foundation
The Women and Girls Foundation is dedicated to moving women’s equality forward by helping women and girls in our region and across Pennsylvania to have equal access, opportunity, and influence in all aspects of their public and private lives. This includes equal representation in the government and on corporate and government boards, equal pay, and uplifting and advocating for marginalized voices such as women of color, LGBT+ women, transgender women, and more.
Pennsylvania is consistently ranked as one of the worst states for the representation of women in government. WGF’s signature civic engagement program, GirlGov, was created by teen women for teen women to be a systemic and long-term solution to that problem.
In addition to training girls to be our next generation of civic leaders and advancing women’s rights today, WGF is working to help more families attain economic security. Studies have shown that improving the lives of women and girls can transform communities.
Imagine a world where women are put at the center of development. Where every workforce initiative has a child care center and every school has an engineering program for girls. Where a single parent never has to decide between leaving her sick child home alone or losing her job. Where all women have access to comprehensive healthcare and reproductive services and transportation is no longer an obstacle to economic self-sufficiency. If you could imagine a world where women, families, and communities thrive, what you would be envisioning is a Femisphere. And WGF is working to make our region, and our state a Femisphere.
“If you can change the life of a single mom leading a household in poverty, you can transform a community,” says Community Engagement Director Olivia Benson. “If you can train a girl to be a civic leader of the future you can transform a community. If you can make paid leave a reality, you can reduce infant mortality, you can keep more women in the workplace, and you can close the pay gap. By empowering women, you transform communities.. You can do so much by investing your time, effort, and money in women. If you can empower a woman or a girl, you can change the world.”
Key areas of focus for the Women and Girls Foundation include:
- GirlGov—A civic engagement program that trains 100 high school girls annually to be our next generation of advocates and leaders
- Femisphere—Single mothers and their children make up 77% of households living in poverty in Pittsburgh. WGF is working with community services, advocates, and local leaders to ensure women can access all the resources and services they and their families need to thrive.
- Paid Leave for PA— A statewide campaign for a paid family and medical leave insurance fund so that millions of Pennsylvanians won’t have to choose between caring for a sick loved one and earning a paycheck
But efforts go beyond these initiatives as well.
“As a women’s organization, we are dedicated to and so passionate about being actively intersectional about the movements we champion and the people we champion and serve,” adds Digital Social Justice Advocate Satvika Neti. “We actively pursue avenues of being intersectional to advocate for and uplift voices of women of color, LGBT+ women, and trans women, and all of these marginalized voices. That is really important, and I am incredibly proud of it. We don’t just attempt to do it or let it happen—we actually seek out ways to include and lift up these voices more and more. It’s part of the fabric of this organization.”
Why We’re Important to Young Pittsburgh
For years the Women and Girls Foundation has helped make an impact in the Pittsburgh region.
“We are fighting for equality for women in multiple spaces in their lives,” explains Benson. “We’re doing the work on the ground—building coalitions, heading advocacy initiatives and training leaders to be our next generation. We’re heavily focused on marginalized communities where we know women are doing work. We try to amplify their voices to make sure the policy and issue areas they need change to live their best lives.”
Some highlights include:
- Helping get fair representation for women and people of color on city, county, and state boards, as well as corporate boards;
- Helping GirlGov members advocate for teen-led state legislation;
- Hosting a local equal pay rally every year;
- Working with a statewide coalition to end the shackling of female prisoners during childbirth;
- Staging a “Girlcott” that got Abercrombie & Fitch to pull sexist t-shirts from their stores.
And efforts go beyond just these highlights. “If you’re interested and you care about a cause, we’re doing that work,” says Neti. “It all comes back to the work we’re doing in creating spaces where women can thrive, training women to be our leaders, and getting equal pay for equal work.”
The money raised at this year’s Kickball for a Cause event will largely go toward supporting the Women and Girls Foundation’s signature GirlGov program, helping to prepare the next generation of female community leaders. The program is currently limited to about 100 girls at a time, so funding will help to further improve the scope and reach of the program. The program is year-round and completely tuition free to participants.
Even if you are unable to attend this year’s event, you can still donate to Kickball for a Cause to support the Women and Girls Foundation and their efforts here in the community.
There are also many ways for you to get involved with the organization. Follow the Women and Girls Foundation on Facebook for information on local events initiatives. Or visit wgfpa.org to become a member, to sign up to volunteer, and to access tools to help you advocate for the causes that you are passionate about.