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Her-story: Recognizing the amazing accomplishments and continuous struggles of women

March 1 is the first day of Women's History Month, which is a time to recognize the accomplishments of women, but also understand the struggles they are still facing

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The YWCA's mission is "eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all," and for the last 70 years, they have been educating the community on how to make the world better for everyone. 

March 1 is the first day of Women's History Month, which is a time to recognize the accomplishments of women, but also understand the struggles women are still facing today.  

"Women have varied needs in the Coastal Bend," CEO of Corpus Christi's YWCA, Nancy Wesson-Dodd, said. "Women have only had the vote for 102 years, and in 1979, when the YWomen in Careers event was started, one of the honorees said she was surprised to realize that there were 100 women in the community who were working in the professions. So, we have come a long way, but women still need equal pay."

Dodd said women still earn .33 cents less than men per hour, on average. 

"That's really a serious issue because when we start out with lower pay in our initial job, when everyone gets a raise, we go up a little," Dodd said. "That's a huge issue which affects so much of our lives, but we have made progress and we will continue to make progress."

During Women's History Month, and every month, Dodd said it is important to reach out to those women who have helped you and let them know you are appreciative.

"Reach out to them and say thank you, and then also, be someone who gives women a hand up. Recognize them and encourage and mentor them," Dodd said. "Women are not as successful as men at encouraging others like them to move ahead and grow, so we can all focus on that. It costs no money, takes a little time and some thought, and it is positive both for the woman who thinks about it and the woman she reaches out to." 

Kelly O'Donnell Gonzalez, COO of Value Bank Texas, said it is important to surround yourself with people who believe in you. She has seen significant changes for women and their personal finances over the years. Up until the 1980s, women couldn't even apply for a credit card without their husband's permission. 

"That's probably been one of the biggest changes," Gonzalez said. "I do have a friend with a personal story on that, she couldn't get a loan without her husband, but it's really worked to be equality all the way around with any type of credit or banking transaction."

Gonzalez will be honored Thursday night at the YWomen in Careers event. 

"It's really an amazing honor, I was very surprised, I have gotten the chance to meet some of my fellow honorees and it's an amazing group of women and I am so grateful to the Y for 43 years of making this happen and recognizing women," Gonzalez said. 

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