Founded in 2003 by two Greenville women, Dining for Women now changes lives around the world as well as in Greenville. The countless women and men behind the nearly 500 chapters of DFW are equally as important as the women they serve.
President Beth Ellen Holimon says DFW attests to Greenville’s interest in international issues. “It’s incredible to lead an organization with such passionate staff members and participants,” she says. Currently, 12 DFW chapters exist in Greenville and 27 in South Carolina.
“We are the largest educational giving circle dedicated to global gender equality,” Holimon says. “We bring people together to create community and understanding and connection with women and girls all over the world.”
Members throughout the U.S. meet monthly for potluck dinners to learn and discuss global issues affecting gender equality. Chapter donations are used to fund grants for international women’s organizations.
“We’ve made grants to over 50 countries,” Holimon says. “We’ve made over 200 grants totaling more than $7 million, changing lives of women all over the world.”
Holimon says people here in Greenville are also changed by wanting to participate in the broader world. Not exclusive to women, DFW welcomes male members and chapter leaders.
“When people learn about how global gender equality can really impact poverty, elections and peace, it really changes the way that they see the world,” she says. “It changes the way they hear the news, where they travel and where they give their charitable dollars.”
When Susan Stall, board chair, started her first DFW chapter 10 years ago, she had no idea just how many girls are killed, starved, neglected and raped each year.
“Four million women and girls around the world disappear every year due to gender discrimination,” Stall says. “That number equates to 80 percent of the population of South Carolina.”
Gender equality can help prevent the deaths of women around the world while also equipping them with education and economic opportunities to improve their communities.
“I now see how many decisions made here in the U.S. have resounding ramifications, and unintended consequences, on people all over the world — especially on women and girls who are the most marginalized,” she says.
Stall loves seeing thousands of members gather to learn about gender equality challenges and making strides to achieve equality.
“The more we know, the better advocates we can be,” she says. “The larger our numbers, the bigger our voice will be.”
To learn more about Dining for Women, visit diningforwomen.org.