For 25 years, the Women’s Foundation has been dedicated to working for change by commissioning research, developing solutions and getting results for women of all ages.
This International Women's Day, we are celebrating the ways women today are making history by stepping up to make change in their communities, at their workplaces, and in the halls of power.
1. We’re stepping up to lead in unprecedented numbers
This year marks the first time in history that the percentage of women in state legislatures has surpassed 25 percent, a number that is sure to rise after the 2018 elections – when a record number of women will be on the ballot.
We are also seeing more and more women step up to lead locally. Since 2014, our Appointments Project™ has helped more than 80 women gain appointments on public boards and commissions across Missouri and Kansas.
This is good news, because research shows that women leaders sponsor more bills, pass more laws, and send their districts more money than their male counterparts.
2. We’re banding together to dismantle injustice and harassment
Over the past year, women across the country have banded together to expose and confront sexual harassment and discrimination – and change the attitudes and culture that perpetuate them.
The #MeToo movement has been a reminder of the power of women’s voices – and the Women’s Foundation has worked to make sure policymakers in Kansas and Missouri are listening. Leaders in both states have taken steps to rid their state capitals of sexual harassment, a testament to the courageous women who spoke up and demanded to be heard.
3. We’re recognizing that none of us can truly move forward if we leave some women behind.
As women, we’re recognizing that while we’ve made significant progress toward equality, that progress has not been shared equally.
Women of color, women with disabilities and women who are lesbian, bisexual or trans continue to face steep barriers to equity and opportunity – barriers that we have a joined obligation to recognize and dismantle.
For example, recent Census data showed that while the overall pay gap is now the smallest it’s ever been – but Black women saw their wages decline. Today African-American women on average make only makes 63 percent of what a man is paid.
The growing awareness of how women’s identities intersect and exacerbate these disparities is a critical step towards making sure we fight for equity for all women – regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation or background.
4. We’re making changes that will benefit everyone
The push for paid medical and family leave is a prime example of how women are leading the charge for reforms that will benefit everyone.
While women are still more likely to take paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, paid leave programs are shown to help families and employers alike by reducing turnover and boosting productivity.
Since California implemented a statewide paid leave program, the number of men taking bonding leave has increased by more than 400 percent.
5. We’re driving a new entrepreneurial boom.
Women are starting businesses at double the rate of our male counterparts. In the United States, 36 percent of all businesses are owned by women, an increase of six percent from 2007. And an amazing 78 percent of the 3.5 million increase in women-owned firms between 2007 and 2016 are owned by women of color.
Removing the occupational licensing barriers that prevent women from becoming entrepreneurs will further empower women to open their own businesses and pursue more rewarding, flexible careers – getting us one step closer to equity.
6. We’re just getting started
From suffragettes to the Freedom Riders, women have always been change-makers. Today we continue to be on the frontlines of the push for progress, and we’re just getting started.