Our mission is to improve the lives of women by providing direct access to the resources they need.

Arkansas Women's Outreach (AWO)

is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote the wellbeing of local homeless women through access to adequate health services and education. We help provide the basic items women need such as feminine hygiene products, underwear, wipes and condoms.

The response to our mission has been astounding. As a result, we have expanded through partnerships with other local organizations to provide access to mental health support and counseling, free HIV testing, reproductive health and prenatal education through a partnership with UAMS, as well as domestic violence support.


What are the issues?

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse and sexual violence are the leading causes of homelessness for women, with 20-50% of all homeless women and children becoming homeless as a direct result of fleeing domestic violence.  Homeless women are also far more likely to experience sexual violence than women who are not homeless.  This is in part due to a lack of personal security when living outdoors or in shelters.

Rape Crisis

Many large-scale studies on rape crisis report findings that emphasize the violent and traumatic lives of homeless women. One of the most in-depth studies of a racially diverse sample of homeless mothers found that 92% had experienced severe physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives, with 43% reporting sexual abuse in childhood, and 63% reporting intimate partner violence in adulthood. It was also found that, when compared to their low-income housed counterparts, the sexual assault experiences of homeless women were more likely to be violent.

Higher Risk of STI's

Sexual assault also affects homeless women's physical health. For example, in one study of homeless women, those who reported a rape in the last year were significantly more likely than non-victims to suffer from two or more gynecological conditions. A lack of comprehensive sex education also leads to higher rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancies among homeless women.

Unplanned Pregnancy

At any given time, about 10% of homeless women are pregnant, which is twice the rate (5%) of all US women of reproductive age. One study found that almost three-fourths (73%) of pregnancies among women experiencing homelessness were unintended at the time of conception. It is important to note that pregnancy and recent births are risk factors for becoming or continuing to be homeless.

Access to Health Care Services

Homeless women are less likely to have a regular source of health care including health insurance, cancer screenings, prenatal care, and specialty care. Homeless women also face barriers to gaining access to the health care system due to a lack of transportation, insurance, knowledge of where to go, and long waits for appointments. One study of homeless women found that they were significantly more likely than low-income housed women to report that, although they needed to see a physician during the past year, they could not manage to do so.

Lack of Education

Myths and misunderstanding drive some women away from pursuing various birth control options or understanding how HIV and STIs are contracted. Many homeless women don’t have a safe space to discuss real issues and solutions.

Access to Basic Feminine Hygiene Products

Local shelters and community programs receive few items addressing basic feminine hygiene. This leaves women with no choice but to use methods that are unsanitary and could potentially lead to illness. Further, a lack of proper feminine hygiene products prevents women from overcoming the stigma of homelessness and negatively affects their employment and housing potential.

What are the solutions?

Community Partnerships

By creating initiatives, programs, systems, and communities that respond collaboratively and respectfully to homeless women, we are able to have a larger impact in the homeless community.  Our partnership with Canvas Community Church and The Van have provided a means for AWO to be an extension of existing services, reaching a larger population. 

Coordination with Local Health Care Services

We aim to improve coordination between community programs and local health care services.  By offering a resource list with detailed services, AWO is able to provide a connection to these services and coordinate with other community programs to ensure these women have adequate transportation.

Access to Education and Regular STI Testing

We provide a safe space for HIV/STI testing, reproductive health education, and discussion. The women are able to get answers to questions regarding their health, discuss personal issues in a safe environment, and make connections that reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Access to Basic Items

We are able to consistently provide items that fulfill a basic human need, such as feminine hygiene products. We are filling a gap in donations desperately needed by the women we serve.

Acknowledging Women

By providing resources unique to women, we’re validating their needs as woman and as a person.