The Memphis Area Women's Council is a non-profit, non-partisan alliance of individuals and organizations formed in October 2003 to increase
the strategic capital of women by leveraging the accountability of local institutions to the needs of women and families. MAWC is mobilizing civic engagement by local women in strategic ways focused on health and health care, economic self-sufficiency and educational equity and reform.
As women are more than half of the population and are primary caretakers of most of our children, women's wellbeing is paramount to community wellbeing, yet decisions by local officials, regulators, legislators and institutions do not reflect the needs and realities of women's lives. The Memphis Area Women's Council unites the voices and actions of women in three targeted positions - those employed inside institutions who are committed to change for women, women with research and data expertise on social policy and institutional best practices, and women with life experiences in how institutions work and don't work - in projects to change policies.
Our collaborative approach, pulling informed and energized community partners together bolstered by need-specific research to equip and mobilize women to seek policy change, is replicated in a new project aimed at research, education and community mobilization about ongoing remaining barriers to work and self-sufficiency for women at the lowest end of the employment spectrum.
MAWC collaborates with New Pathways Community Development Corp., Memphis Community Development Council, Memphis Area Legal Services, Seedco, Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Partners for the Homeless, RISE and MIFA. These organizations know, from their case management or community outreach, that factors as varied as housing, transportation and mental health can impact a woman's ability to find and retain even a low-wage job. We seek to more clearly identify, define and document local barriers and their policy sources and then create a strategy to achieve policy change.
MAWC will review data collected by Seedco on low-wage employment barriers for a general population. We will work with our policy partners such as the WFGM and Partners for the Homeless to analyze all sources of data on low income, single women heads of households. With our partners from the CDC's, we will shape and administer a survey to pinpoint remaining barriers to employment among local women. MAWC will coordinate this research and analysis and will make links between the data and policy steps.
As part of the strategy to address policy change, MAWC will coordinate efforts and events to educate and mobilize the community, our partners and policy makers at the appropriate institutions. We will compile pertinent data around each barrier and communicate the need for change in public sessions, our website and other materials and in our ongoing action projects with our members, our task force subgroups and community partners. We will organize a series of dialogs where women from the survey pool and the broader community can be mobilized with a shared understanding of needs and the steps required to make change.