Mary's Pence: Empowering women and their communities

  • Posted on: 6 March 2022
  • By: minnesotangos

Katherine Wojtan, Executive Director of Mary’s Pence and MINN Board Member, shares a reflection in honor of International Women’s Day. Mary’s Pence envisions a world where empowered women and their communities flourish in solidarity and justice. This donor-supported nonprofit works in the United States to provide funding and support to women’s organizations in the United States, Central America and Mexico.

Only 1.9% of charitable funding in the U.S. goes to organizations dedicated to the rights of women and girls, according to the The Women and Girls Index 2021: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls Causes, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Racism and oppression intersect with the roles and right of women, and we know much of the change needed in the world will be brought about by women of color. Research from the Ms. Foundation for Women has shown that women and girls of color receive less than 1% of foundation funding.

These numbers are shockingly low. They send a message that women don’t matter, that they can’t have an impact, and that their voices don’t belong.

The work of justice is about standing up against oppression. But it is equally about creating belonging—ensuring everyone, no matter their color, faith, language, gender, or sexual orientation, feels welcome. It’s about creating spaces so that people can participate freely and joyfully in all aspects of society. 

We need to do more to give women the resources they need to do just that.

“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” — Grace Lee Boggs


As you consider your charitable giving, seek out organizations that support women. Seek out organizations that do more than meet immediate needs or crisis situations, though these are an important part of giving. Be sure to include organizations that create spaces of belonging for women, especially women of color.

Consider organizations that support women working to:

  • Increase civic and political participation of women
  • Organize women and build the skills they need to have their voices heard in their homes and in their communities
  • Conduct research on issues that affect women’s lives, and advocate for effective solutions
  • Prepare women for jobs that pay an equitable wage; advocate for laws that ensure equitable treatment
  • Ensure women receive healthcare that meets their unique needs and reflect their communities
  • Provider skills and role models for young girls of color that prepare them for success
  • Depict the real lives and issues of women in culture, media and the arts.

Show women that they matter; that their voice belongs everywhere decisions are made about how our world is shaped.

Learn more about Mary's Pence here.

MINN Fellows, individual or organization members, board members, volunteers, and Minnesota-based NGOs are invited to join the Community Voices Series. If you have something you'd like to submit, email Katie at [email protected]