By Mary Fuller, United Way area director
Women make up 50.8% of the Bryan County population and yet only 33.5% of firms in Bryan County are women owned, according to the U.S. Census. In the Coastal Empire, nearly 32,000 single women are heads of households with 59% of them earning incomes under the federal poverty level. Sixty-six percent of working-aged women in Georgia are employed and 78% of these are single mothers. Nationally, a woman working full-time made just 81.6 cents for every dollar her male counterpart made on average. Sometimes when you are a woman, it feels like the odds are stacked against you, especially when you are a single mom.
Women often times have to make really hard decisions and no matter what we choose there will be people who judge those decisions. Many women are the primary caretaker for their children and are the primary bread winner of the family. It is simply the reality of the world we live in and there are too many reasons for this reality to explore in this article.
Even more, it is not worth blaming each other to shift the focus away from the things that need to be done to help. It is more important to figure out ways to support women in raising physically and emotionally healthy children than to blame them, men or society as a whole.
As we all know, it is really about the children as they will be the people who grow up to support us all as we get older.
As the product of a single parent, female-headed household, I was taught to be strong, independent and take care of myself. Although my mother struggled financially and had to juggle working and raising children, my grandmother, aunt and sister were there to also provide loving guidance and serve as valuable role models for me as I was growing up.
Then, as I got out into the world of work, I had many fabulous, strong and successful women who took the time to mentor me. They taught me how to collaborate with others, support each other so that we could all be successful and ultimately be true to myself.
Every year, when spring rolls around and we start talking about our Women United program and the Women Who Rule event, I remember the women in my life – the ones that made a big impact on me. I find I am immeasurably grateful for all they have done for me.
I am excited – and hopeful – to possibly be that same kind of woman for someone else. I think of all the women I currently work with and am incredibly appreciative of and humbled by all they do to make our community a better place. We all need that support, that little bit of help and hope, as we are not Wonder Woman or Super Woman, nor do we need to be. We need to be kind, compassionate and empowering of each other.
The United Way’s Women United program provides access to transportation for women to get to essential appointments and employment, which allows them to effectively meet the needs of their families. The program does not solve all problems for hard working woman and mothers but it helps to take one more burden off their already overloaded plates.
The Women Who Rule event is the one time each year that our community raises funds for this program through the United Way. Now is that time and I hope our community remembers how important it is to support the women who are making an impact, raising our children, and changing our future world.
Remember to thank the women in your life who have made it a better place for you. And if you would like to publicly honor the women who rule in your life, you can make a $100 donation and her picture along with your message will posted and shared on our social media.
When women support each other, great things happen. When our whole community supports women, unbelievable things can happen.
Mary Fuller is United Way’s Bryan County area director. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.