CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Mecklenburg County Women’s Advisory Board has been busy listening to issues women have throughout the county. Board members have been on a tour discovering the concerns of women. The Board has been around since 1974. It was set up to examine the state of women in the county and what improvements need to be made.
So far, one of the pressing issues for women consist of affordable housing.
“Especially if they are in a domestic violence situation,” Women’s Advisory Board Chairperson Zhivi Williams said. “Our shelters are full, so where do they go - women are sleeping in cars with their children.”
Williams says another concern is healthcare.
“How do we help women in other races,” Williams said. “That fear going to the doctor or going to a hospital in fear of being deported.”
Another issue expressed is unequal pay between men and women. Board members also went inside the jails to find out the issues women face there.
“They were dealing with various aspects of educational opportunities or lack thereof,” Women’s Advisory Board Member Dr. Yolanda Holmes said. “Employment - because they were labeled or stigmatized as being a felon, so they dealt with those issues once they were released - however a lot of different programs and initiatives they weren’t informed - didn’t know.”
The board is now putting together a list of recommendations to present to county commissioners about what needs to be done to make life better for women. Recommendations are planned to be presented by the end of the year. A list of recommendations has not been presented to the commissioners in several years.
“We don’t want to feel like our board of county commissioners are not listening to us,” Williams said. “They have the women’s advisory board in place for a reason, because they want to know the issues that women face and how they can help to improve on those issues.”
The board says expectations are high - since many women are in leadership positions throughout the county. Positions held by women consist of the Mecklenburg County manager to the Charlotte Mayor.
“All of us probably really need to step up,” Williams said. “And just to make sure that those who are responsible for making those changes are held responsible for making those changes so that our women aren’t left behind, or they don’t feel left out or they don’t feel like the county is not supporting them.”
County commissioners appoint members to the board. They serve three years. There have been challenges, but board members think they are in a good place and are gaining momentum. They also believe that all can help the board meet their goals and tackle the issues including men.
“I believe men can be attentive,” Williams said. “And a listening ear as well as a helping hand to help us stand firm and be a collective body without actually being a member of the board.”
The next board meeting is Monday, Sept. 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. It takes place at Valerie C. Woodard Center located at 3205 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208. Meetings are held every fourth Monday.