Food and housing always get mentioned when discussing basic needs. Other needs, however, especially age- or gender-specific items, such as menstrual care products, often get overlooked or ignored due to stigma.
“Our society doesn’t want us to talk about it, but the reality is that it’s a huge need that is unique to women, especially women of child-bearing years,” said Leslie Murphy, president & CEO of Murphy Consulting, Inc. Leslie is also a Women United committee member.
“It’s easier to talk about food and things that are more generic—not so female focused,” Leslie said. “But for Women United, this is pretty close to our hearts.”
A dynamic group of women make up Women United, a group passionate about creating change and building relationships to uplift women and girls, as well as support early childhood education and literacy work, throughout southeastern Michigan.
As we grow, we have the responsibility to take care of the young ladies behind us.
Recently, members of Women United volunteered with the student-led Detroit Period Project. For two hours, the groups packed menstrual care products, including over 25,000 pads and liners, along with 500 hairbrushes, at 180 Church in Detroit. The products will be distributed to students at Wayne State University and in the Detroit and Dearborn public school districts.
“It is my belief that as we grow, we have the responsibility to take care of the young ladies behind us,” said Marnita Harris, chair of the Women United engagement committee. “For girls, it’s always a stigma — and when people are struggling, a lot of times girls are coming to school without having their needs met. Or they stay home and depending on their cycle, they can miss a lot in 3-5 days of education, monthly.”
Two years ago, the Women of Influence summit, then virtual because of the pandemic, inspired Marnita to join Women United. The annual event celebrates International Women’s Day and highlights women who make a difference in our communities. Since its inception seven years ago, the summit has raised more than $1 million to support United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s work in early childhood, education and literacy.
“During the virtual conference, the meaningful moment for me was the realization that I could be a part of something that affects everything that I want to change, contribute to or help with,” Marnita said. “This was the area where I wanted to concentrate parts of my giving, so while they were doing the presentation, I opened a new tab, signed up and gave to join Women United. It was a no-brainer.”
Many Women United members are inspired to join because of their shared passion about issues affecting women and children. Although giving is the most popular way to join, it is not the only way to get involved. Everyone is welcome to attend events, take on leadership roles and participate in equitable ways.
“There are many ways for someone to become a member of any of our affinity groups to help support the community— through time, talent or treasure,” said Tina Saad, director of corporate relations and experience at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
Feel inspired to join Women United? Sign up today at https://unitedwaysem.org/get-involved/give/philanthropic-groups/women-united/women-united-signup/.
Find out more about our other philanthropic groups at https://unitedwaysem.org/get-involved/give/philanthropic-groups/.