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During March, the spotlight on women, their achievements, and unfortunately gender inequality in society, is in full force as part of Women's History Month. Even with recent increased attention, disparities continue nationally and locally. Here in Benton County, women are industry and community leaders and lead the way in their fields. Women are also receiving higher educational degrees at a greater rate than men at our area institutes of higher learning. Yet, inequality continues to create barriers for women and girls. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2019 in Iowa, full-time female employees earned 1.39 times less than full-time male employees, a difference of over $18,000 a year. This same data shows the largest demographic living in poverty is females ages 18-24.

The charitable giving landscape also shows inequities in regard to contributions to charities dedicated to women's specific causes. According to the 2020 Women and Girls Index report by the Women's Philanthropic Institute (WPI), a research arm of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, even with an increased awareness of sexual harassment and assault, calls for equal pay and representation, and policies directly impacting women's rights, just 1.6% of all charitable giving in 2017 was received by women's and girls' organizations. The good news is women's specific philanthropic support continues to grow alongside all charitable giving.

Increased awareness and emphasis of issues impacting women and girls is not the only positive for charitable growth for organizations. Today, more women areleading the charitable decision-making process, and they are making investments to causes that are important to them. According to another WPI study (Women Give 2021) 61.5 percent of couples make giving decisions together, however in households where one partner decides, the women is more likely to make the charitable decision.

As women guide their family's charitable process, the Benton County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, is available to assist by helping to create solutions that match ones' passions, maximize tax benefits and create a philanthropic legacy for generations to come. There are many ways to give through your local Community Foundation that may align with your charitable goals. Learn about ways to give atwww.cfneia.org/giving/how-you-can-give.

For questions about giving, contact Terry Gaumer, affiliate director of development with the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa at 319-243-1354 ortgaumer@cfneia.org.

More information about the Benton County Community Foundation can be found atwww.bentonccf.org.

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