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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Power of Women

Does this sound like your life or the life of a woman you know?

“I have to get my kids to school at different times. On Wednesdays my daughter does basketball in a whole other building, and my son does Boy Scouts way up North.”

This was shared by Jenny whose need is posted to the Benevolent site. In honor of Women’s History Month, this post is dedicated to the power of women to support, persevere, and thrive.

Jenny, her sister and her mother are forces to be reckoned with. They take care of one another, take each other in when necessary, and catch each other when they fall. All the while, keeping everyone around them focused on accomplishing goals and pursuing education.

All this sounds like a rosy picture. Until, that is, we hear the back-story. Jenny survived and stood up against abuse, ran from her abuser, was fired from a job one month before her due date, and found security and help from her sister when she needed it most.

Just facing the realities of everyday life and parenting is a Herculean task. When you add domestic violence and gender discrimination to the mix, it’s a challenge worthy of a superhero. This challenge, of course, is what millions of women around the world face every day. Jenny is one and in my mind’s eye, she is, indeed, a superhero -- deflecting danger and zooming around any obstacle that clutters her path.

These dangers – domestic violence, assault, discrimination, and more – still so seemingly commonplace in our country-- are at the core of this story. Jenny is so much like so many other women – women who survive and persevere, women who take care of everyone around them, rising up from whatever knocks them down. At a time when a woman’s position in politics and public discourse is at a low point, we cannot avoid this all-too-apparent truth – that women’s circumstances continue to be marked by gender-related challenges and obstacles.

As Jenny’s story continues to unfold, we find that it is now Jenny’s sister who needs help. Jenny’s sister has cancer and is on dialysis; Jenny provides transportation to her chemo appointments, dialysis, and work. On top of all that, Jenny is single-handedly raising her kids and preparing to go back to school. I find myself becoming exhausted simply by reading about Jenny’s life and challenges.

”I bring the kids to school, I go to work, I take my sister to work and to her doctor’s appointments and her dialysis appointments, and I will be starting school…”

Jenny is asking for help getting her car repaired so she can continue to drive, get everyone where they need to go and keep them all on track.

I’ve got two kids and they’re active and involved, like Jenny’s. It’s hard for me to fathom how I would ever accomplish what Jenny does each day were I not able to use my car. Helping this superhero woman, who has overcome so much, get her car fixed will mean the difference between whether she and her loved ones can continue to pursue their life goals, or whether they will face an impasse.

There are so many Jennys out there – running from dawn until late into the night, keeping themselves and their family members on track, repelling abuse and assault when it pops into their lives. During this year’s Women’s History Month, I’ll be paying homage to them, feeling grateful for the progress we’ve made for women in this country and around the world, and daunted by what we have yet to achieve.

- megan kashner, founder & ceo

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