The Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) identifies themes of barriers to success that they and their peer groups encounter. This exercise in identifying barriers is a key step in the YWI process because for some, this is the first time these emerging young leaders can dictate how they can create change in Springfield to combat inequity and inequality.

This year, the YWI have identified these themes as barriers:

  • School to prison pipeline
  • Feminine health
  • Mental health and suicide prevention
  • Missing children
  • Sex trafficking

What do these themes mean to the young women in YWI? We asked the young women to talk about why these issues matter to them.

What the young women have to say about the…

School to Prison Pipeline

  • This issue affects me personally because I see that racism is evident in our school systems.
  • Although this issue is not new, there is an urgency to address it and influence people to recognize biases because of the lasting effects this has on the success of young people of color.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

  • This issue affects me personally.
  • I have noticed how much funding and support is needed for programs during hospitalization.

Missing Children

  • I have noticed an increase in kidnappings. At least the media coverage on kidnappings has increased.

Sex Trafficking

  • This has come up a lot in the media and it’s hard to ignore these dangers.

Feminine Health

  • There’s more awareness of these issues and the options afforded to women and girls, but that doesn’t mean they are accessible.
  • General health and reproductive health are still issues because even though I have support in my family, not everyone has support or a safe place to talk about feminine health.
  • Young people often get information from media or social media and that can be inaccurate or damaging.

In our work at the Women’s Fund, we want to provide support to all four counties in Western MA to alleviate challenges, problem-solve, and invest in lasting solutions. These young emerging leaders are blazing the way to do just that. Stay tuned to what is happening at the Fund, and especially what the YWI is working on next to keep on the pulse of social change in Springfield.