Addressing Intersecting Challenges
In the United States, girls and young women of color live at the intersections of sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression that prevent their full participation in our future. From birth, girls of color are likely to face poverty: over 60% of girls of color are born to families living on low incomes or below the poverty line. They’re also likely to suffer child sexual abuse, be sexually harassed on the street and at school, and experience dating violence.
The safety nets that are meant to support and restore – including education and child welfare — instead exacerbate their vulnerabilities. In school, nationally they are two to six times more likely to be suspended than white girls; a third to a half don’t graduate high school at all. They are disproportionately in foster care, where 70 percent of girls are sexually abused. They are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system, where they are disproportionately punished.
The impact? Girls are not set up to successfully navigate the challenges they’ll face as women of color, from workplace discrimination and a predominance of low-wage work to the continual presence of violence. Poverty and suffering persists through their adulthood to the end of their lives – and affects the people they care for around them, including their kids. Almost half of single African-American and Latina mothers live in poverty, with zero median wealth. Those without children do not fair much better. Without children, their wealth inches up to $100 and $120 respectively. Asian-American women have the highest suicide rates for women over the age of 65, while one in three Native American women report having been raped in her lifetime.
Stronger Girls, Stronger Movement
The good news is there is a growing movement of intergenerational activists – youth and adult alike — who are working to change this trajectory for girls. Our goal is to multiply that movement.
Our funding is directed towards helping girls set the agenda of the movement – once they see the injustices they face. We support the movement’s intergenerational leadership, through infrastructure, network building and advocacy. We also seek to build a bigger, stronger field of organizations that drive change at both the girl- and system levels, and enlist others’ support for that field.
Today, U.S. girls of color are rarely included in any national dialogue, about racism or sexism, or in the rising movement for girls in the Global South. That story’s about to change — as the US movement for girls of color grows.
We also invest directly in efforts to advance long-term structural and systemic change, including: policy change to ensure that our institutions are meeting the unique needs and reflecting the intersecting challenges facing girls and young women of color; and culture change to create a fundamental shift in the ways that girls of color perceive themselves and are perceived by others.