RALEIGH – According to Shirnetta Harrell, 80% of young women in North Carolina go without soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, or feminine hygiene products. She founded No Woman, No Girl (NWNG) in 2021 to help women and girls access those everyday essentials—and has already served over 1,200 women since the nonprofit’s inception.

To increase the work NWNG does in schools, shelters, and other outreach spaces, Harrell says her organization needs support from Triangle tech. 

“No one should be more invested in this mission than our local tech community,” Harrell told me in an exclusive interview. “When we ensure that women and girls have the basic necessities they need to thrive, we are unlocking their full potential and removing barriers to them participating in our region’s growth and success. That’s a mission our tech community should urgently support.”

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Harrell, a Nash County native, says she hopes to focus on minority women and girls who “disproportionately fall marginalized to a lack of accessibility and affordability in what they need to survive.” 

“How can women and girls in our community benefit from the resources and opportunities that are here in the Triangle if they’re held back by something as basic as access to hygiene essentials?” said Harrell. “As a social worker, I saw how this problem impacted women and girls—when girls skipped school because they didn’t have soap at home or women couldn’t go to work when they had their period. We have the power to remove this barrier.”

A Raleigh-based campaign 

Harrell’s ties to Raleigh run deep. She’s an alumna of Shaw University and a former Miss Shaw University, a title bestowed annually. (Her 2012-2013 service campaign as Miss Shaw focused, unsurprisingly, on assessing the basic needs of college women.)

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During our conversation, Harrell pointed to a number of Triangle initiatives at the intersection of technology and equity, like The RTP Foundation’s Diversity in STEM series, The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, and the RTP-collaborative Triangle Tech Talent Initiative, to show that the region is moving in the right direction.

“Our hope is that our local tech community sees that supporting NWNG specifically aligns with their goals,” said Harrell. “When they leverage their resources and expertise to collaborate with organizations like NWNG, they’re helping to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all—which, in turn, helps them improve their company’s reputation, strengthen their relationships with stakeholders and clients, increase employee morale and engagement, and spotlight the opportunities in our Triangle community.”

NWNG, Merrimon Wynne and Band Together announce futuristic event

Harrell suggested that one way Triangle tech can support NWNG is by supporting the organization’s upcoming partnership with Merrimon Wynne, a luxury wedding and special events venue in Raleigh, and Band Together, a North Carolina-based nonprofit known for hosting concerts and events to benefit local charities.

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Founded in 2001, Band Together has raised over $12 million for NC nonprofits through its events, which feature well-known musicians and performers. The organization’s events have become a staple of the Triangle’s cultural scene, drawing thousands of attendees and featuring performances by artists such as Turnpike Troubadours, Lyle Lovett, and Hall & Oates. 

This year, Band Together will co-host an event with The Merrimon-Wynne House, a Raleigh wedding and events venue known for producing a benefit event for a local charity each year. The partnership event, called An Evening To Ignite, will be held Friday, March 3, 2023, with the goal of raising over $100,000 for The No Woman, No Girl Initiative. 

The event will have a futuristic theme, designed by La Fête Planning and Design. 

“During the event, guests will have the opportunity to meet with astrologers, get dolled up into a galactic glam, enjoy casino games and so much more,” said Casey Harris, the lead planner at La Fête Planning & Design, in the press release.

This will be the fourth benefit event that The Merrimon-Wynne House has hosted. Since its inception, they have raised over $300,000 to support nonprofit organizations. 

“This is going to be an incredibly memorable night of dancing, eating, drinking, but most importantly: solidifying the future of the impactful nonprofit, No Woman No Girl,” said

Thorne Daubenspeck, Executive Director of Band Together, in the event press release.

Harrell says that she hopes the futuristic theme, the partnership with renowned organizations like The Merrimon-Wynne House and Band Together, and the impactful mission will be enough to draw out the Triangle tech community. 

“This event will help us double our organizational growth,” said Harrell. “Imagine what that could mean for the women and girls in our community—and know that as our women and girls rise, so do we all.”

Learn more about the event at https://www.merrimonwynne.com/an-evening-to-ignite-2023.