Together Women Rise reaches for global gender equality
March is gender equality month, so fittingly this month’s Angels Among Us features Together Women Rise (RISE), whose mission is to cultivate the collective power of community to achieve global gender equality.
RISE is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. What started as a collective giving circle among a group of friends has blossomed into an organization with 380 chapters across the country, including 22 in Colorado, with hopes of adding more.
Chapters meet regularly to learn about gender equality issues and global efforts that empower women and girls in low income countries. In 20 years, RISE has invested in more than 250 projects in over 60 countries around the world with more than $11 million in financial grants.
Betty Purkey-Huck, the regional leader for the Rocky Mountains and Southwest region, and the chapter leader for Sedalia, says that education and health are at the forefront of RISE. Gender-based violence, such as child and forced marriages and human trafficking, equal economic power, political voice and leadership representation, and living free from all forms of discrimination, exploitation, and social exclusion are just some examples of causes RISE brings awareness to and supports.
Purkey-Huck was inspired to get involved with RISE after watching NBC’s Brian Williams’ news segment about making a difference back in 2012. She immediately sent in an application to become a chapter leader. “I was so excited about what they were doing,” she said.
There are no membership fees and no requirements for donating. A typical chapter meeting consists of friendship and shared interest in learning and helping. The national organization prepares the grant presentation, and the chapter leader guides members through the cause. If so inclined, members can donate as much or as little as they would like. Grant recipients are determined months in advance and are strenuously vetted.
According to Purkey-Huck, RISE isn’t just for women, and chapters are very diverse. Chapters consist of multi-generational families, co-ed members, LGBTQ members, men-only and college students, to name a few. “That’s the beauty of RISE. The only requirements are talking about the program and the grantee, but as far as the rest of it, it’s what you and your chapter want it to be,” said Purkey-Huck.
“Being with like-minded people and having the comradery that we have just makes you feel so good. We all recognize what’s happening and that we all need to do something,” shared Purkey-Huck.
For the month of March, the grantee is Too Young to Wed, located in Kenya, whose mission is to empower girls and end childhood marriage globally. In April, the grantee is The MoonCatcher Project, located in Uganda, Malawi and Kenya with a mission to optimize girls’ lives worldwide by removing barriers that prohibit access to menstrual products and improving societal attitudes toward menstruation.
“Being a part of Together Women Rise really resonates with me,” shared Purkey-Huck. “The impact it has on so many people makes me realize that, individually, I can make a difference.”
The Sedalia chapter meets on the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m. with the next meeting on March 13. New members are welcome, and Purkey-Huck is hoping to add additional chapters in the area, especially in Castle Pines. If you are interested in learning more about Together Women Rise or helping to start a new chapter, contact Purkey-Huck at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.togetherwomenrise.org to learn more.
By Elean Gersack; photos courtesy of Betty Purkey-Huck