The Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation have launched the EVOLVE network which aims to address gender inequality.
The High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Julian Polhill, hosted an event to launch the network which included a speech from business woman Dame Stephanie Shirley.
The EVOLVE network was initiated to harness the skills, expertise and resources of women in order to address gender inequality within the county and to raise money for the Mark West Fund for Women, which funds charities who support women in vulnerable situations, like Luton-based Azalea, who help women facing poverty and homelessness.
Fozia Irfan, CEO of the Foundation, said: “We know that women and women’s services have been disproportionately hit by austerity measures – women face a triple jeopardy of cuts to jobs, benefits and vital services.
“Many women work in part-time, insecure employment which makes them vulnerable but conversely a lot of the services they need to access for themselves and their families, have also been severely underfunded.”
The Foundation has raised thousands for the Mark West Fund for Women from individual donations and organisations like London Luton Airport Limited and the Amateurs Trust.
The donations have been used to fund projects run by local charities like Families First who work with victims of domestic abuse.
The MHA MacIntyre Hudson and the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce supported the event and the Lord Lieutenant, Helen Nellis is taking on the role of Patron of the network.