The National Council of Negro Women is an organization focused on enabling and advocating for African-American women — and now, they’re at Mercer.
Jacqueline Zvandasara, a Women and Gender Studies major, recently saw that there aren’t a lot of organizations on campus that specifically focus on strengthening minority women. As a result, she decided to start one for herself.
“It was sort of just seeing a need and filling a need, and providing an opportunity for people — African-American women primarily — to have some place where they could join together in sisterhood that’s not necessarily a sorority,” she said, “but somewhere you could become a leader, learn how to survive in the workforce and learn how to be a strong woman.”
Her first encounter with NCNW, a national organization, was through a gala at Fort Valley State University, where they have a new chapter of NCNW.
“You don’t know what you don’t have until you experience it somewhere else,” Zvandasara said.
She said that African-American females, in addition to other minority women, are typically the ones with the smallest allotment of representation. The problem isn’t just on the national stage, but even in places like Mercer.
“Even when we were defending the organization to the Student Government Association, I was in a room full of men,” she said. “Caucasian men and women, and there were only two African-American males — but there were no African-American females on SGA.”
Zvandasara said that she hopes that the Mercer chapter of NCNW is a place to cultivate that minority leadership potential.
On their website, NCNW says that their mission is “to lead, develop, and advocate for women of African descent as they support their families and communities.” In order to do so, they promote research, community service and advocacy, both in the United States and Africa.
One of the national organization’s pushes this year is HIV/AIDS awareness. Zvandasara said that she is already working to coordinate a NCNW project with the Public Health program that would offer free screenings at a blood drive.
She is also talking with Northeast High School in Bibb county with the hope of establishing a mentorship program, so that a Mercer students could potentially be a kind of “big sister to some girls over there.”
In addition to service events such as these, Mercer’s chapter will also hold general body meetings and socials for students on campus.
When she presented the idea to SGA, Zvandasara said she had “about 57 females interested.” Now, the list of interested members has reached about 97 — and it’s still growing.
Since embarking on the process of starting the chapter, she said that she’s gotten the chance to meet a lot of new people.
If you’re interesting in checking them out, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the handle “MercerNCNW”.