Woman operated center provides resources to women in San Francisco

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Woman operated center provides resources to women in San Francisco

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In recent years, women’s rights have been at the forefront of political discussion, including topics such as the wage gap, sexual assault, educational rights and others. In San Francisco, one resource available to at-risk women in San Francisco is the Women’s Building.

The Women’s Building opened in 1973 and is a woman-run non-profit organization, offering nine different programs to help struggling women in San Francisco.

“In general, women have had many challenges just because they’re female,” said Tatjana Loh, the development director of the Women’s Building. “Right now, even in San Francisco, which is one of the most progressive cities in the U.S., there are so many women who do not get paid the same salary as men doing the same job.”  

According to the LA Times, the pay gap between men and women in California totals nearly $79 billion annually. Which means, men are pocketing $79 billion more a year than women who are doing the same job.  

Part of the problem is that wage data are largely kept secret in America, so women and minorities can be underpaid without anyone else knowing, the LA Times reported.

Today, women make an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earns (according to federal data), compared to 54 cents prior to the Equal Pay Act in 1963. The LA Times reported that it could take at least 70 more years before the gap is non-existent, although the Equal Pay Act was passed 54 year ago. 

In addition to the wage gap, women are also more likely to be victims of abuse and sexual assault and harassment than men, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center

According to the Center, 91 percent of rape and sexual assault crimes are women. Of that 91 percent,  81 percent of them face trauma after the event occurred. 

“If a woman has been sexually assaulted, we will (try to) ensure a smooth journey back into society and get her the support she needs through these different services,” Loh said. 

Thanks to the recent #MeToo movement, where those who are victims of sexual violence came forward on social media platforms and in other ways, a more wide-spread discussion about sexual assault was formed in America. 

As a response, the Women’s Building started a new program to help  these victims of sexual assault deal with the trauma.

The new program is two-fold. Loh said, with one part working with like-organizations in the community, and the other with the government to promote change. 

“We try to work with other organizations to provide services and so everybody is working in partnership,” said Loh. “The Women’s Building has been doing advocacy work for a long time, where we try to change the system to help people in a better way.” 

The Women’s Building also offers services including job searching and housing assistance.

“We have changed many, many women’s lives because they were following a dream and we were one of those places that helped them achieve their dream,” Loh said.

Loh said she hopes the Women’s Building will always remain a clubhouse for girls and women, but also that she hopes that the world will not be such a tough place for women in the future.

“I just cry for them. It’s horrible. It’s not that women aren’t strong, it’s just that sometimes we just have to fight in a bad system that keeps putting us down,” Loh said. “I think there are a lot of strong women that are in bad situations.”