International Women's Day: Moving Women Forward


In celebration and honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we are thrilled to bring you stories from local women leaders who are addressing long-standing inequalities in multiple areas of women’s lives, and building a more just and resilient world in the process.

Although progress has been made toward gender equality, much work remains. Globally, women’s participation in the workforce is unequal to men’s; one in three women still experience physical or sexual violence; and twice as many girls as boys will never start school.

Even in our own country, state, and region, women still face persistent barriers to accessing economic security, physical and mental health care, and representation in elected positions that greatly improve their lives and the well-being of their families and communities.

We can all take steps to advance women’s equality. And we know one of the best ways to achieve equality is for all of us to use our platforms for change.

Let’s move #WomenForward. Let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.

Join us on social today. Share how you #ChooseToChallenge. How will you work to advance women’s equality and build a more inclusive world? Tag us on Facebook @CharitableVentures, on Twitter at @CharVentures, and on LinkedIn at @Charitable-Ventures.

Header Photo by Caique Silva on Unsplash

My life’s work revolves around advocating for programs, services, funding, and policies that support prenatal to age eight. Prioritizing the early years provides the greatest return on investment (ROI) and promotes a lifetime of positive social, economic, and health outcomes.

I am the Executive Director of Praxis Lab, a project of Charitable Ventures in Orange County. With my team, I create programs to support the health and wellness, mental and emotional development, and political and physical education of the next generation of changemakers. We provide a social justice education to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth leaders that draws from the liberal arts and the martial arts traditions.


When I think about this year’s International Women’s Day theme — to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world — I am reminded of the wisdom of “calling in” rather than “calling out” our allies, as recently expressed by Dr. Loretta Ross, founder of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and Visiting Associate Professor of the Study of Women & Gender at Smith College.


Dr. Ross reminds us that, in our efforts to organize communities and build movements for a more just and equal society, it is essential we “don’t turn on each other, but rather turn to each other” as we face the challenges confronting us. That sort of critical solidarity has its best chance to take root in the collective endeavors of women around the world.


It is my hope that we can better connect and collaborate so that our efforts do not become or remain piecemeal and privatized. Further, I hope that we can draw insight and support from each other as we strive, in our varied ways, to make the changes to our culture and society that ensure everyone has the resources necessary to flourish.

View Sadhna’s inspirational story here.

Sadhna Matai, MS Psy

Program Manager, Start Well

My personal mission is to help others, give a voice to the voiceless and also have fun while doing it.


This year’s IWD theme means a lot to me in that women-dominated fields worldwide have been hit hard by the pandemic – while women make up 39% of the global labor force, they account for 54% of pandemic related-job losses. The majority of people who dropped out of the labor force in the US are women; whether it be for caregiving roles or due to their industries not recovering, this means women are impacted financially and professionally more than men. While women have made up a lot of ground over the years professionally, COVID-19 may set women back further if we don’t address the challenges they are facing. Factor in incarceration and women are going to have a considerably harder time rebounding.


I hope that women working to change our communities stay strong, stick with it, and aren’t afraid to speak up. A favorite quote of mine – from Carla Harris’ TED Business Talk – is, “If you’ve been invited to the room, you have a seat at that table and you have a responsibility to speak.”

My name is Claudia Perez. I am a DACAmented womxn of color that has been organizing in Santa Ana and across Orange County for over a decade. I first began organizing as a high school student in the immigrant rights movement, co-founding and co-coordinating spaces like RAIZ and Orange County Girls and Womxn of Color, as well as leading efforts in the county that support the youth organizing movement. I am currently the Executive Director of Resilience Orange County. My mission in this world is to build and guide new innovative ways of organizing alongside communities of color to nurture an intergenerational movement that centers those with lived experiences. I am grateful to be surrounded by inspirational womxn in my life that have entrusted in my leadership. One of the womxn that has been my biggest inspiration has been my mother. I have seen her navigate through some of the most challenging moments in her life and every time she has taught me to be resilient, courageous and loving to myself and those around me. This year’s International Womxn’s Day theme is a reminder to challenge the inequities, gender stereotypes and assumptions made towards womxn of color. My hope is that as womxn of color we continue to embrace and uplift each other’s success and remain bold in our leadership.

View Allyson’s inspirational story here.

Allyson Sonenshine, J.D.

Founder, OC Women's Health Project

View Maribel’s inspirational story here.

My mission in the world is: For people to know their worth and to be seen.


I read this somewhere and it really resonated with me: “Life taught me to stop aspiring to sit at tables where I have to bring my own chair, squeeze in between folks and repeatedly convince others why I should be there. I learned to build a new table. I hope you learn the same.” – Unknown

View Lisa’s inspirational story here.