Is there a particular stereotype about women that really gets under your skin? Like that make-a-sandwich, helpless-damsel nonsense? Chances are you’ve heard so many of these clichés that you simply roll your eyes and move on. But there’s one stereotype I just can’t let go of: Women are bad drivers. I mean, come on! Have you seen Thelma & Louise or Speed? Haven’t you ever witnessed a mom skillfully maneuvering down an interstate highway with a car full of hollering kids? I know on more than one occasion, I’ve deftly driven at least 10 miles with a car filled with three dozen birthday balloons and an oversized piñata. Today, we’re talking about how more women belong in the driver’s seat. So, strap in. We’re going for a ride!
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 3 in 5
Sure, cars are fun to drive, and occasionally, like when we’re stuck in traffic, no fun at all. But a car represents more than simply a way to get from here to there. It’s independence. It’s control. Without it, many women aren’t able to preserve a good quality of life for their families. According to the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women, 56 percent of impoverished adult Americans are women, and a significant obstacle preventing them from bettering their lives is transportation. In fact, one national study found that three in five jobs suitable for welfare-to-work participants aren’t accessible by public transportation, often the only method of transit this population has access to. Without adequate and reliable ways to get there, many women are unable to work.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Molly Cantrell-Kraig, Founder and Executive Director of Women With Drive Foundation
Today’s Woman to Watch, Molly Cantrell-Kraig, is taking this problem head-on. She’s the founder and executive director of the Women With Drive Foundation, a nonprofit with the awesome mission to provide women transitioning out of poverty with a figurative and literal vehicle to their independence.
But more important than the actual car is the life-changing opportunity each participant is given to identify her specific obstacles to independence and to design a plan to overcome them. Participants must meet certain requirements, live having a job and being insurable, and all the responsibilities that come with driving, like maintaining insurance and registration fees, must be covered by the participant.
The foundation relies on partnerships with other nonprofits and existing resources in the community to help facilitate women’s independence. During the course of two years, Women With Drive participants’ lives transform with not only the support of reliable transportation, but also with the support of the community, with the goal of women becoming entirely independent after that two-year period.
Molly is no stranger to helping women in need. As a nominated changemaker at the inaugural United State of Women Summit, a stronghold of the gender-equality movement, she met with other organizations specifically focused on empowering women through economic autonomy. And she’s been featured in countless publications for her work in the field of social good.
In solidarity with the philosophy of Women With Drive, Molly recognizes she could never have accomplished creating such an impactful organization alone. In addition to many women in her life who helped define Molly’s passion, she thanks her first stakeholders—her three daughters—for keeping her wheels turning.
QUITE THE QUOTE
The most successful people in this world are the ones who aren’t stepping on others’ shoulders to get to the top. Instead, others’ success equals their success. Like speaker and life coach Iyanla Vanzant said:
“The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.
Headshot photo by Linda Horton