Submitted by eschneider on
AmeriCorps staff

When COVID-19 derailed her post-graduate plans, Alison decided committing to a year of service seemed like a great way to gain valuable work experience, while also satisfying her desire to make an impact. Now an AmeriCorps member with the VISTA program at Vermont Works for Women, she helps women and girls recognize their potential and explore, pursue, and excel in work that leads to economic independence.

“My service experience has had a profound impact on my understanding of poverty and social inequity,” said Alison. “I am continuing to learn about the ways gender inequality and structural racism contribute to the economic hardships faced by women in Vermont, particularly women of color. Empowering women and girls to make confident and deliberate choices about life and work can have a meaningful impact on their personal lives and future earnings.”

This work resonates every day but even more so as the country prepares to observe Women's Equality Day on August 26, which was created to honor the passage of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920, that in spirit removed the gender barrier to voting access as a next step in creating equitable voting rights.

Women's Equality Day honors the accomplishments of women's rights advocates, but it also reminds us of the particular challenges that women confront on a daily basis, and that there is more work to be done.

Alison’s service is a start reminder that empowering women—of all races—is an ongoing need. Today she is primarily focused on helping women in Vermont find and keep jobs that meet their needs and lead to economic independence. To expand services and assist more women, she helped create a women’s career mentoring network, which connects volunteer mentors with women around Vermont seeking employment and career advice.

This new mentoring network has been especially important during the economic recession caused by COVID-19. According to the Vermont Commission on Women, in December of 2020, 69.2% of Vermont’s unemployment claims were attributed to women, while only 30.8% were attributed to men.

Many are calling this a “she-cession.”

Fast Facts

  • Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, women could be fired if they were pregnant.

  • The first college to admit women was Salem College, founded in 1772 as a primary school. However, it wasn’t until the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862 was founded, that universities had to educate men and women in practical fields of study.

  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the first Civil Rights Act mandated equitable wages for the same work.

  • Today, women still make just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Black women earn only 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men. (ACLU)

Learn more about Women’s Equality Day.

Vermont Works makes sure women have the support networks and resources necessary to find meaningful employment and earn a livable wage. So far, the mentoring network has been successful at connecting women who want help with women who want to help. Allison and her team hope the network will continue to grow and reach more women in areas of Vermont we haven’t previously served.

“My service experience has deepened my desire to make a difference and to work for organizations that move our communities toward a more just and equitable future,” said Allison.

Allison and Vermont Works are just one example of all of the work AmeriCorps members are doing across the country to empower women. This Women’s Equality Day, AmeriCorps celebrates the achievements of women’s rights activists, and continues its dedication to alleviating the unique daily struggles that women face, working toward a more equitable country.