Traditionally, the women of rural communities lack equal access to healthcare, good paying jobs that offer career pathways, have fewer safety nets for the poor, lack help with gender or sexual identity issues and suffer from geographic and information isolation.

According to a 2020 report from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, rural women may face additional challenges, including:

• In rural Minnesota, 15 percent of girls report being pressured to have sex. The 10 counties with highest teen pregnancy are in greater Minnesota.

• Women remain disproportionally represented in lower-paid jobs.  It takes Minnesota women, on average, a master’s degree to earn $1,000 more pay per year than a male with an associate’s degree.

• Fewer than 18 percent of rural women hold office such as city council, mayoral,or county board.

• 1,193 cases of domestic abuse are reported everyday, 49 percent of those are in rural communities and intimate partner violence is aggravated by fewer resources in rural communities. Almost 85 percent of Native American women have experienced violence, and more than half have experienced sexual violence.

• Full-time working mothers in Minnesota spend almost two hours more per day on care and housework than full-time working fathers.

• Elderly rural women are twice as likely to live in poverty as males because of lower retirement and Social Security benefits.

• Black, Indigenous and women of color experience unique inequities across economics, safety, health and leadership spectrums.

While there are organizations that provide crisis intervention, food support and other needed resources, the Nevis Women’s Club recently asked what their organization can do to assist women in achieving their personal, career and civic goals.  To this aim, this fall the Nevis Women’s Club will sponsor a full-day conference for rural women to support and encourage them to grow and achieve success throughout personal, career, and civic journeys.

The “Empowering Women to Lead” Conference will be held at Northern Lights Casino and Events Center Sept. 17 and will feature thought provoking speakers, interactive activities and opportunities to network with others.

Among the speakers at the event will be keynote speaker and Polar Explorer Ann Bancroft, who headed the all-woman team to the South Pole becoming the first female to cross the ice of both the North and South Poles. Other speakers who represent many facets of women’s lives include Teresa Kittridge, founder and president of 100 Rural Women; Nevada Littlewolf, executive director of Our Children MN; Mariah Prussia, owner/founder of MPX Fitness; Jodi Heilman, business owner of Coach My Brand and a panel of prominent Women of Nevis.

Tickets go on sale in April and are $45 for the entire day’s events. For more information regarding the conference, visit the conference website at tjeananderson.wixsite.com, or contact Theresa Anderson at (701) 730-2877 or tjeananderson@outlook.com

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