Women’s Equality Day – 2022


On August 26th, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day which was passed by Congress in 1973 to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment.  In the nearly 50 years since, women’s rights have taken steps forward and steps backward.  At North Carolina Women United, we look to advance public policy and laws that work toward women’s equality on a whole host of topics. One of these being Economic Stability which is near and dear to my heart as a Financial Advisor working with women on achieving financial independence and empowerment.   One positive of late is the trending in the right direction of the gender pay gap for women ages 25 to 34 which has shrunk considerably.  Pew Research Center released the figures in 2021, showing women were paid 7 cents less than their male counterparts compared to 33 cents in 1980.

This gives me so much hope for these women in their “golden years”.  Most of us don’t want to talk about aging, but for me, it’s part of my job to have these discussions.  I talk with clients about all their financial goals – short and long – but the longest goal of all is planning for retirement.  We are talking about their lives from age 65 to 95 and what their dreams and aspirations are for that time of their lives.  The majority of my clients are women, so I know the repercussions the inequality in pay has dealt on so many women over the age of 65 today.  The pay gap in the past has resulted in an even bigger gap in the quality of retirement for older American women, and the pandemic has widened the retirement savings confidence gap.

On top of that, women are more likely to have breaks in their career which can affect savings – having children and taking care of aging family.  Exacerbating this issue, women generally live longer than men, often having been their caregiver as well.  Also, more than half of women over the age of 65 are unmarried and aging solo compared to a quarter of men.

In 2021, Edward Jones partnered with Age Wave to conduct a study of 9,000 people across North America to understand what living well in retirement means for them.  It covered five generations, and among many interesting findings was that the whole idea of retirement has changed with the Baby Boomers.  42% of their parents’ generation said retirement was “a time for rest and relaxation” while 55% of today’s retirees definite it as “a new chapter in life”.   What does that mean? It means having purpose, learning new things, traveling, and time with family.  Having an adequate retirement savings lends itself to a lot more options for whatever your purpose may be.

I get excited when I’m contacted by women in this age group of 25 to 34.  They want to learn, and I’m here to help.  Women often need a lot of confidence in their knowledge before making a decision – this can often lead to analysis paralysis and further delays in investing. Women are key in the transfer of wealth that is currently happening in our country with the Baby Boomer generation. We need to ensure we are prioritizing our health and understanding our purpose.

Where do you start?

    • Does your employer offer a retirement plan? If so, meet with the advisor on that plan to get started, find out what the employer match might be (free money!)  and ensure you are properly invested.
    • Read up on the different types of retirement plans available.
    • BUDGET – make sure you understand what your cash inflow and outflow is now – this will help you build that foundation of a healthy retirement

Want to learn more?

    • Listen to a podcast.
    • Ask a friend or family members if they use an advisor they trust for financial information.
    • Interview financial professionals until you find one that makes you feel heard and asks more questions about what is most important to you than about your money.

I look forward to my own retirement in 20 years. I know it will be very difficult to walk away from my clients that I have grown so close with over the years.  I also know that there will be a generation of women changing these numbers we see today.  They will be confident that they have wisely taken control of their finances, so retirement will be an opportunity for a new chapter for them.


Check out the study mentioned here: www.edwardjones.com/newretirement

A Note From Our NCWU President on Roe vs. Wade


Sadly, yesterday’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade marks an unfathomable abandonment of a pregnant person’s fundamental right to privacy and bodily autonomy. This extreme and dangerous decision will restrict the ability of millions to make the best reproductive choices for them. Abortion is health care, and it’s nearly paralyzing to accept the reality that yesterday we woke up with a constitutional right that had been ripped away by noon. We will continue to fight for the right to control our bodies!

In the last 24, so many states have moved swiftly to ban abortion. While abortion in NC is still legal, the stakes for the upcoming election are even higher! Dismantling these patriarchal systems becomes a real possibility when we support pro-women candidates who have a sincere commitment to policy rooted in an intersectional feminist framework like reproductive justice.

I know that many of us are submerged in collective grief that only time and change can genuinely heal but until then, remember to breathe. Things are bad, yes. But this long and bruising fight requires that you not burn out.

Charnessa Ridley
NCWU President

Mental Health Awareness Month


“But when do we tell each other it is ok to breathe? That it is OK when you cannot show up for every issue? “


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common mental health issue in women is depression. It is reported that twice as many women experience depression during their lives as men. As North Carolina Women United, we find it necessary, particularly at this moment in our state and national context, to add our voice to this public health discussion and raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the lives of women. 

 Everything feels like it’s on fire, or that it should be! (We mean that symbolically, we are not promoting arson!) If you do not have challenges with mental health already, try reading enough headlines and it will surely take a toll on your mental wellness. From forced isolation in response to the pandemic, war, the refugee crisis, mass shootings, gender-based violence, racist attacks against black people, hauntings of missing and murdered Indigenous women, shortages of life-saving and life-giving essentials like baby formula, high inflation, climate change, and threats to human rights and bodily autonomy—the list can go on for days.

I have worked with and on behalf of sexual assault and domestic violence victims for over 15 years. I have seen first-hand the impact of repeated exposure to traumatic events. Living in a constant state of fear is disastrous to our stress level and increases symptoms of anxiety and depression. How do we recharge? In the quest for social and gender justice, our first response is often to fight. to rally and to march. To protest. To make a call to action and pressure a decision-making body to make different decisions. As proven through history, these are all very commendable and necessary actions in the advancement of the status of women.

types of anxiety infographic  

But when do we tell each other to breathe? That it is OK when you cannot show up for everyone and every issue?  How often have we used the tools of patriarchy and capitalism to shame women who struggle to show up because of the weight of the world? Did we make time to understand the weight of their world before we judged their actions or inaction? How do we treat one another when our activism looks different? How can we create a space for women to show up authentically and yet be worthy of taking up space? This is the internal work we think all boards and coalitions should do. This is how we positively impact mental wellness. 

 “If no one else does, know that we see you and appreciate you! The membership of NCWU is devoted and hardworking”

When we push for increased access to healthcare, the outcome is that we are not only closing the insurance gap; it means getting closer to making holistic wellness resources available for all women despite their wage, zip code, and level of education. Trauma-informed therapeutic services can help so many women cope and deal with the mental health challenges that living in this world can bring. The specialized care found in those treatment modalities should not be a privilege or a luxury. All women that could benefit from those services should have access to them. We know that is not a reality for all women, especially those without guaranteed sick days and those who do not earn a living wage.

After we have achieved all the legislative success in our sights, what is next? How quickly can we reach back to the community and grassroot efforts on the ground to continue progress? Sustaining that level of change on the community level will require healing and restoration, and that includes meeting the needs of the whole person, including addressing their mental wellness. This also means that we must listen to communities when they say they need alternatives to law enforcement response when seeking mental health crisis intervention. In the absence of that, we will continue to advocate for more training as well as increased accountability in law enforcement.


Pregnant and incarcerated people who give birth while shackled deserve access to wellness services that will address the consequences that action will have on their mental health. Mothers who feel forced to have or not have children under any circumstance that does not honor their humanity or respect their bodily autonomy should have access to the mental health resources necessary for healing. What does it mean for the parent-child relationship born under these circumstances? Does the impact go away when the rule or policy is changed?

With maternal and infant mortality rates being as alarming as they are and community knowledge and awareness of them increasing, we need more clinicians in doctor’s offices who understand the impact this fear will have on the patients seen by medical providers. When women, especially women of color, are not heard by medical staff, how can these clinicians serve as patient advocates to create different outcomes? This integrated approach to patient care may exist in some urban communities, but women in the most rural parts of NC deserve the same access.

anxiety infographic

There are locations in our state where women must drive across multiple county lines for certain health and wellness needs. NC providers reported an increase in the number of individuals seeking services during the pandemic. The pandemic severely triggered many with existing mental health challenges. Although telehealth assisted greatly in meeting the need, it did not eliminate the labor shortages. While telehealth can address the barriers to services due to distance, the wait time for an appointment can still be a challenge. These wait times are often discouraging, and appointments are not kept, resulting in fewer individuals who need treatment receiving the help and support they need. Repeated enough times, this lack of access and shortage of resources will be felt by entire generations whose ancestors could not benefit from the professional support and resources available.

This month and every month after, we affirm that mental health matters. The mental health and wellness of women matters, and we all share in the responsibility of doing our part to have a positive impact. If no one else does, know that we see you and appreciate you! The membership of NCWU is devoted and hardworking. We know that each of you comes into this work fighting your own individual battles. You are doing a great job, even if all you did today was hold it together! Activism takes a toll. Being a woman in this world adds tax. Be kind to yourself