A Message From The President

October 2019

Empowering women through education is the focus of October’s program as we welcome Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, the co-founder of the Akilah Institute.

Globally there is an inextricable link between the status of women and education, health, exposure to violence, environment, and poverty. The education of women creates a multiplier effect that impacts not only individual women, their families and communities, but also global economies and populations. The global impact of the education of women includes:

  • Economic impact. Families are lifted out of poverty and entire economies thrive. The World Bank reports that limited educational opportunities for girls cost countries between $15 and $30 trillion dollars in lost lifetime productivity and earnings.
  • Lifetime earning potential.For each year of education, a woman’s earning potential is increased by 10-25%.
  • Educated women are more knowledgeable about children’s nutrition, proper sanitation practices and medical care.  Education decreases a girl or woman’s risk for contracting HIV or transmitting HIV to her baby.
  • Of the 750 million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women. A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five.
  • Infant and maternal mortality rates. Educated women are more likely to marry later in life, pushing back the age at which they have their first child. When women have children past the age of 18, they are more likely to survive the potentially dangerous first birth, as is their child.
  • Community impact.Education of women results in greater involvement in society and the economy through positions of leadership and governance.

While women in America face challenges to accessing education that are different than those encountered in some countries, obstacles nevertheless exist. In keeping with our goal to enhance the status of women, The Athena Society has a long tradition of helping women receive the education they seek to change their own futures.

Under the leadership of Judy Ryan, our Philanthropy Committee is continuing their campaign to raise funds for our two signature programs, the Dr. Sylvia Richardson Young Women of Promise and the Phyllis P. Marshall Career Assistance Grants. This month the focus of the Committee’s campaign is on the Career Assistance Grants that provides funds to women who need assistance completing their education so that they may enter the workforce. Our recipients often share that these grants have been life-changing with the educational opportunities they support. Last year, Athena gave $18,000 through the Career Assistance Grants and we are hopeful to expand the program this year.

Thank you to each of our members who continue to give so generously.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Nelson Mandela