New Fund Aims to Help Local Women

How The Women's Fund is striving to improve the status of women in San Benito County.

An ambitious fund for women has made big progress in its first year. The Women’s Fund was created to serve the interests of women in San Benito County. Taking its job seriously, it has gathered research in short order and is planning several forums to address some of the issues local women face. Some of the study results that will help guide the upcoming forums:

• Women in San Benito make up half of the population
• On average, women earn 72% of what men earn, however, the pay gap increases as the level of education increases
• Over half of the women surveyed considered themselves more than 5% overweight
• 27% of women have been victims of domestic violence
• The unemployment rate of women in our county is 17.6%

The Women’s Fund, a field of interest fund housed within the Community Foundation for San Benito County, seeks to improve the lives of women in the county. This new organization was formed in 2012 to pinpoint issues that women face individually and collectively. Their goal is to help women empower themselves by providing information on women’s issues, thereby touching all women’s lives for the better, woman by woman-woman to woman. Additionally, this Fund seeks to inspire women by offering connections and support through a variety of grants and scholarships geared towards uplifting women, encouraging them to become leaders within our community.

The Director of Development and Outreach at the Community Foundation for San Benito County, Stephanie Hicks, reached out to the Central Coast Stanford Alumni Consulting team to assist The Woman’s Fund in creating a “report card” for the status of women and women’s services in San Benito County in order to determine what kind of specific services would most benefit the women in the County. This report, recently released by The Women’s Fund, provides statistical information of San Benito County women, which consists of previously gathered data from local institutions and government agencies as well as surveys from a diverse sampling of women in the county. The main categories of the report are: Basic Demographics, Political Participation, Employment and Earnings, Social and Economic Autonomy and Aspirations, Reproductive Rights and Parenting, Health and Well-being, and Institutional Interactions. It is from these categories that some astonishing facts were revealed.

You can read the whole report here:

The results of the report may be surprising because they reveal an unfortunate situation for many women of our county. This is exactly the reason The Women’s Fund was formed. Equipped with this information, our community can come together and begin to change the facts presented in this report. One way The Women’s Fund hopes to achieve this is through several forums. The first will be a Women’s Youth Forum on May 17th, followed by two additional distinct forums, culminating in a Women’s Summit on October 23rd. We can make home a better place by taking action now, woman by woman-woman to woman, today and tomorrow.

In conclusion several questions were asked: What do you think was most surprising about the report? How do you think the report will help The Women’s Fund achieve its goals? What do you think the community’s reaction has been or will be? Laura Lee, Project Coordinator for Women’s Leadership and Outreach project, located at the Community Foundation for San Benito County is quoted as stating. “I would say this report is the starting point for selecting what the focus of The Women’s Fund will be, then it will inform whether we have been successful.” Stephanie Hicks, Director of Development and Outreach at the Community Foundation for San Benito County, gives a quote as well, “The Status of Women report is an important tool in painting a picture of how we are doing as a community in serving women and girls. This report is a snapshot in time. The primary research (personal interviews) are most intriguing to me because the results tell a story and captures the essence of what The Women’s Fund is shedding light on for the residents of this community. Issues like domestic violence, poverty and economic inequality are not just women’s issues, these are community issues, and the Women’s Fund is taking a leadership role in bringing awareness to these and many other issues that impact many women and girls on a daily basis here in San Benito County.”

The Women’s Fund is a field of Interest Fund held at the Community Foundation. If you are interested in learning about the work of The Women’s Fund, please contact Stephanie Hicks at 630-1924 or email [email protected]