By joining AAUW, you belong to a community that breaks through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance.
The AAUW “Value Promise” is a product of the recent Strategic Process undertaken by AAUW members and leaders over the past couple of years. Establishing this Value Promise has been an important element in helping to clarify our identity, purpose and key strategies, and is helping to guide our decisions for the future.
The AAUW Value Promise is our statement of commitment to ourselves, as AAUW members, and to those who would join our AAUW community, about the essential value of our membership. The term “value” is used with two meanings.
First, we are promising a “value on investment,” a return on your investment – financial, intellectual, emotional, and the time and energy you invest in AAUW. That is, you support the organization with your membership, and the membership as a whole (the community of AAUW) pledges to undertake endeavors (educational programs, advocacy, research, and the intangibles of our interpersonal relationships) that “break through educational and economic barriers” for women – with you and for you. Second, the term “value” identifies a principle, an ideal, an ethical position, that is to be understood as a shared commitment of AAUW members that springs from an understanding of and belief in the importance of a “fair chance for women” that means so much to all of us. The Value Promise, then, embodies both the goal of a “fair chance” for all women and the description of an overarching methodology that we are dedicated to utilizing – “breaking through educational and economic barriers.” Everything we do should be measured against the Value Promise to see if we are actually fulfilling the “obligation” that is implied by joining.
Another way to view this is to look at the pieces in their simplest form. Starting from the goal, “a fair chance” is a concept that we have all understood since childhood. It means that our differences notwithstanding, we deserve the “most level playing field,” the most equitable opportunity, possible. It doesn’t mean that we think everyone is entitled to the same thing, no matter what. It means that when we try, our efforts should stand on their own merits – that we should not be inhibited by discrimination or other injustice. We deserve a fair chance – this is why we join and support AAUW.
Members ask sometimes, fair chance for what? It would seem that women – and men – deserve a fair chance at whatever they attempt. It is a right of democracy; and a basic human right. So, the issue becomes context – and that is the beauty of the term “fair chance,” because it is applicable in so many different circumstances, and underscores the essential element of equity that AAUW members have demanded for 126 years.
So, who is seeking this fair chance? – The AAUW “community” a hundred thousand members strong, from all over the country – we are powerful and influential because of our numbers and because of our shared exercise of this power and influence on behalf of that fair chance for all women.
How do we use this strength? By “breaking through educational and economic barriers” – which we have done for more than a dozen decades and continue to do in our work every day! We have an incredibly powerful reputation for our generosity in supporting the education of women, for the protection and assertion of their rights, for undertaking and promoting incontrovertible research that decimates stereotypes and myths – for standing up for women.
The words are “breaking through” not breaking down. It is a very artful way of distinguishing our methodology. We don’t break down doors, we break through “glass ceilings.” We make strategic decisions about what to tackle and how to do it. Which is why we have this outstanding reputation, and why so many other organizations and decision-makers come to us for support of their positions. They know we are thoughtful, credible – and we are effective.
This is the message of our Value Promise, and the standard it sets for all of us.
And, frankly, it is very easy to use in advocacy, in speeches, in writing, and in describing why and what we do in a simple, uncomplicated way — reminding ourselves, and the young women who may not yet realize it yet, that equity is still an issue.
Best of all, our Value Promise works. People hear it or read it – and they understand it. Our challenge is to live it – we’ve promised!