empowered women

2018 – An Amazing Year for Powerful Women in Politics

Woman holding sign in crowd that says Volting is my Super PowerWhen women and girls are empowered to participate fully in society, everyone benefits. ~ Melinda Gates

In 2018, women across the country were elected to a record number of local and statewide offices. The “Pink Wave” also swept across the nation in midterm elections that carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Some of the big winners of the year were seasoned leaders, like Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, and Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly. But many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics.

The “firsts” this year included: 

  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Iham Omar of Minnesota became the first and second Muslim women elected to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland of Arizona and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids also made history as the first openly LGBT woman of color in Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
  • New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old progressive, won in a shocking upset.
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became Texas’s first two Latina congresswomen.
  • Lou Leon Guerrero became the first woman governor of Guam.
  • Angie Craig became the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Minnesota.
  • Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher, became Connecticut’s first black congresswomen.
  • Young Kim of California became the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman elected to the Senate.
  • Janet Mills in Maine, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, and Kristi Noem in South Dakota became the first female governors for their states.

The 2018 election cycle was also the first following the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. In this cycle, many women saw a need to change the status quo and volunteered to run without being recruited. They also ran differently. Instead of putting on the power suit and spouting resume talking points, they featured their children in ads, offered personal testimony about sexual harassment and abuse, and opened up about family struggles, drug abuse and debt. Their openness connected with many facing the same struggles, and their authenticity paid off.

According to figures compiled by the Center for American Progress in November 2018:

  • A record number – at least 126 women so far ­– have won seats in the US Congress (three races remain uncalled by the Associated Press).
  • A historic high of 43 women of color were elected to Congress, along with at least three who identify as LGBTQ.
  • The number of women serving in state legislatures will exceed 2,000 for the first time ever.
  • The number of women governors rose by 50 percent, from six to nine.

More Gains to be Made

These are exciting numbers and historic wins, but we clearly still have a significant leadership gap. As of January 2019, women will still represent less than one fourth of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate. Although they will hold 28 percent of seats in state legislatures, women hold only 18 percent of governorships, and, as of August 2018, are less than a quarter of the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities. To be clear, women make up slightly more than one half the population.

We must continue our support of women doing the hard work of holding elected office and encourage women to run and especially to run again. One defeat means nothing in a political career. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run all reported a huge surge in women interested in running in this cycle. These women who mustered their courage demonstrated that women are truly ready to lead, and that the people are ready to elect them in their communities, states, and nation. We need to celebrate these women who are paving the way, and help others follow their lead.

We can also encourage and inspire our daughters, granddaughters, and young women in our communities. There are a number of organizations that will make good use of our time, talent and treasure. For example, Girls Inc. has chapters nationwide and works to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has an initiative dedicated to making women’s public leadership visible to the next generation, with programs set up nationwide, called Teach a Girl to LeadTM. The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at University of Missouri St. Louis prepares college women and has even hosted a Girls’ Summit for middle schoolers.  Ask around in your community for opportunities to mentor and engage at a local level, and if you don’t find any, join with other women to start one.

Ultimately, we want 2018’s “Pink Wave” to close the leadership gap and make our voices heard on every level. Women leaders change the game. We do indeed need at least half our leaders to be women, and by working together we can make it happen. Just think how that will change our country and the world!

Together, We Can Make A Difference

Right now, in every sector, women are making their voices heard. We are taking to the streets, gathering on social media, and organizing through numerous initiatives and movements. We truly are in this together, and we need to be in order to move to the next phase. While some may think this rise in conversation and feminine power may have started with the presidential election, or even with #MeToo, women gathering to further the common good started much, much sooner.

In 1848, a group of almost 200 women met at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. The first ever women’s rights convention kicked off with. Reading of the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances” which detailed the injustices inflicted upon women in the United States and called on women to organize and petition for their rights. The Seneca Falls Convention was followed two weeks later by an even larger meeting in Rochester, New York. National women’s rights conventions were held annually after that, providing an important focus for the growing women’s suffrage movement. Through gatherings in Seneca Falls, a movement was born, and after years of struggle the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, granting American women the constitutionally protected right to vote.

The struggle continues as we work to close the gender pay gap, claim our rightful place in leadership positions, and live lives free of oppression and harassment. And guess what? In order to get that done, women are still gathering. The Women’s March saw 4.6 million women and men take to the streets and march to raise awareness on women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. The anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and#TimesUp have also shifted the conversation on women’s issues, and elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives.

Numerous organizations have also taken root in the past decade to further the needs of women, and help us claim our fair share. For example, our very own Women Connect4Good Foundation supports and connects women to empower and lift up all women to break through barriers that prevent them from achieving sustainable, fulfilling lives and claim their power to change the world.

Take the Lead prepares, develops, inspires, and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025, and their unique strategies create the breakthrough from where women have been stalled at 18-20% of top leadership positions for two decades.

Actually, when it comes to accelerating women’s leadership today, the sky is the limit. We’ve got Lean In, Emily’s List, Catalyst, Fem. Inc, Ellevate, Bossed Up, See Jane Do, SHEROES United, and more. And all of us are working towards the same goals – women’s empowerment. With training, tools, supports and awareness I truly believe that together we CAN make a difference.

The “I Am a Superwoman” Equality and Empowerment Summit, on Friday, August 24, is another great addition to the powerful movements happening all around us. Why is “I Am a Superwoman” important? Because women, sometimes at great personal risk, have fought for our rights in this country for nearly 200 years. However, our world is still divided and full of hate. In fact, in the United States 1.3 rapes per minute still happen. It is up to us to continue the fight, and work together to change the status quo.

“I Am a Superwoman” encourages us to assume personal accountability and individual responsibility for the future of our planet. It’s clear that a foundational shift in culture and leadership is essential. “I Am a Superwoman” highlights the need to recalibrate our societal mindset so we can move forward to create a better world for our children and for our community. It’s all about Equality. This is not a Partisan issue, it’s a Human issue. This movement is a critical step forward from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and aims to preserve and nurture the relationship between men and women. It’s time to re-direct our energies toward long term prevention focused on education and training programs that will stimulate positive change.

“I Am a Superwoman” invites women to build their legacy, and through the Superwoman Video Challenge urges women to prepare their Personal Bill of Rights. Wherever you are, simply pick up your phone and shoot a selfie video saying, “Here’s to the Superwomen who started the Equal Rights movement, and here is my personal Bill of Rights,” and share three to five things that you feel strongly about. Then you can post your video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and include #IAmaSuperwoman, #NowItsUp2Me, and SuperwomanDonations.org. Proceeds from the “I Am a Superwoman” activities will go to 501c3 organizations like SHEROES United, an organization my Leading Women co-author M. Bridget Cook-Burch founded that works tirelessly to help victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking.

Remember, the momentum we gain when working together is unlike anything in the world. To find out more and get your ticket for the “I Am a Superwoman” Equality and Empowerment Summit, or to learn more about any of the “I Am a Superwoman” activities, go to SuperwomanCampaign.org.

5 Ways Men Can Help Women Advance

With so few women in the C-suite and upper management, many women say their best mentors and allies have been men. New research shows that their mentorship can help, and the prospects for female CEOs are greatly improved by an assist from the outgoing CEO. The authors of the research studied every large company CEO succession between 1989 and 2009 in which a woman was named to the top spot and found that women CEOs do well when they are promoted from within, following a long period of grooming by their predecessors, who are mostly male.

Leigh Buchanan writes in Inc. Magazine that the actions of the predecessor CEO have an impact on women leaders for two reasons, “First, the predecessor has an unmatched opportunity to mentor and sponsor female high-potentials. Second, the predecessor sets the context for a woman’s elevation.” This grooming and support is the ultimate vote of confidence and not only serves to downplay concerns, but also demonstrates the company’s willingness to embrace an inclusive culture.

Actions like that aren’t limited to the top levels. In fact, a recent Catalyst report, Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know, states, “Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. From potential business success to growth for both women and men, everyone benefits when men are brought in as partners in creating a gender-inclusive workplace.”

Why should men want to step up and help us succeed? Well, today men have a bigger stake in women’s equality than in the past. They count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work.

The actions that men can take to help women advance at every level start with looking at how women are treated, and help them better be seen, heard and recognized. Men can help women:

Be Heard – if a woman is interrupted, interject, ask them to finish, and further contribute to the conversation.
Lead – give them chances to lead projects or manage others.
Take Credit – make sure credit is given where credit is due, and don’t let women push their accomplishments to the side, or let someone else claim it.
Combat Bias – whether it’s blatant sexism or unintentional bias, when you notice an injustice, call it out.
Advance – recognize the competence, legitimacy, and status of female colleagues, look for ways to mentor or sponsor them, and help them advance.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality and advancement at all levels, especially when we have the help of our male counterparts. And men do not have to give something up for women to gain visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit. We all know that the data is showing that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to a more balanced diverse management and workforce.

The Pay Gap Matters, and Affects Us All

I want to be paid fairly for the work that I’m doing. That’s what every single woman around the world wants. We want to be paid on parity with a man in a similar position—Felicity Jones
Equal Pay Day highlights the wage discrepancies that exist between men and women in the workforce. This year, the event was observed on April 10, and marked how far into the current year women had to work to earn what their male counterparts made in 2017. The National Committee on Pay Equity, which established the event in 1996, notes that Equal Pay Day is always observed on a Tuesday, to represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.
Overall, women still earn just 82 percent of what their male counterparts take home, according to calculations by the Pew Research Center. That number is even less for minority women. For African-American women, Equal Pay Day won’t be observed until August 7th, and for Native American and Latina women, Equal Pay Day won’t be observed until September 7th and November 1st, respectively.
This disparity points up the need for all women to support our sisters of diverse ethnicities. We can gain strengths by working together and supporting each other’s advancement. Currently, gender disparities receive more attention (and lip service) than race. “More companies prioritize gender diversity than racial diversity, perhaps hoping that focusing on gender alone will be sufficient to support all women,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “But women of color face bias both for being women and for being people of color, and this double discrimination leads to a complex set of constraints and barriers.” We need to band together to eliminate this injustice to women of color.
For a few years it seemed that Millennial women were encountering less wage disparity than older women. However, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that today women between 25 and 34 are losing ground when it comes to pay equality. Women in that age group made just under 89 cents on a man’s dollar in 2016, down from a high of 92 cents in 2011. That means their gender gap in median weekly earnings is the widest in seven years.
This inequality is unexpected, especially since female Millennials are highly educated and encounter far fewer barriers to the workforce than in any prior generation. According to a Bloomberg report, Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and a former Labor Department chief economist during Barack Obama’s administration says that this group’s temporary rise might have resulted from decreases in men’s wages in those years. “Men just had been losing ground” Shierholz notes, “and instead are doing better now.”
Whether Millennial, Gen X, or Boomer, woman or man, the pay gap matters, and reducing it should be a top priority for anyone interested in the well-being of women, families and communities. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices.
At this point, no female demographic is exempt from this wage gap, and few, if any fields are immune. That means we all need to work together to change the status quo. We, yes women andmen, need to recognize and acknowledge the problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal everyone can support.
Below are three organizations working to educate us about the disparities so we can eradicate them. Please check out their resources and use them in your work to eliminate your gender pay gap.
Take the Lead– recently released a resource guide to help you step up your Equal Pay Day Game.
AAUW Work Smart– recently joined forces with LUNA to provide salary negotiation workshops across the country.
National Women’s Law Center– has a tremendous resource available for download, “The Wage Gap: The Who, How, Why, and What To Do.”
Bottom line, women have generated a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality in all sectors. Equal pay for all women of every ethnicity needs to be a top priority. Equal Pay Day is a reminder that we have work to do and we need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why women and men of all races deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less!
 
 
 
 

Speak Your Truth with Personal Passion

Rabbi Laurie Coskey

Women should speak their truth about whatever incites their personal passion, urges Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., whether that is the environment, the homeless, prejudice against various groups—in whatever way you can. It may mean joining the Rotary in your community (Laurie is a long-time member); you might join the PTA; you could volunteer at a victim’s center. Whatever stirs your passion, reach out to others and work together to make positive change. As a social justice advocate, Laurie’s lifework is to obtain fairness and dignity for everyone and she works tirelessly to achieve it for people who don’t have enough power to do it for themselves..
Her commitment to improving the lives of those in need is inspired by her Jewish background, her chosen vocation of rabbi, and her belief that the greatest gift we have to give one another is our love. In that regard, she serves on various boards in San Diego including the Interfaith Worker Justice. Her work there inspired her powerful TEDx Talk about the San Diego interfaith clergy who reached out to officials to stop disappearing immigrants and their families in 2007.

To Create Real Change, We Must Change the Systems.

Laurie realized the importance of changing systems, which she chose as the subject for her doctoral study. She continues to win victories for the issues she is passionate about through negotiation and teamwork. As an advocate, she learned not to lead the people who need her advocacy, but instead to walk beside them and help amplify their voices.
In this interview, she tells a heroic story about janitorial workers in office buildings organizing for better working conditions. The women who do the work are often single mothers who may speak little or no English and they work for male supervisors at night, who can control them through rewards or penalties based on sexual favors. These courageous, powerless women overcame their fear and stood up and spoke out. They do not participate in the #MeToo movement, but the activists who are helping them did appear at the Grammy Awards this year. Things are changing, Laurie says, one squeaky wheel at a time.

Our Lives Will Change When Women Become Legislators

Dr. Nancy and Rabbi Laurie share their concern that women’s perspective is often ignored. The male perspective has created our current system and to change it women must get involved. Besides getting involved in our communities, Laurie encourages women to run for public office, while admitting that it is a huge commitment to serve in elected office. Things really will not change until we make different policies, which women can do by winning elected office at their community, state or national level. She stresses that with so few women at the top of our organizations, it’s time for women not just to integrate, but to lead. That is when we will see significant change that affects everyone’s daily lives.
Listen to this interview for more wonderful stories about Laurie’s life and experiences. She invites anyone who would like a personal rabbi (Jewish or not) to contact her via twitter, Facebook or Linked-In. She is happy to listen and reply. Check out this news video about Laurie’s work in San Diego for more inspiration about what a difference community involvement can make.

Lexi Jackson Proves the Future Is Female!

Lexi Jackson, a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, already knows that the only way to affect change is to engage – and wow – has she engaged! She was recently chosen to participate in a Washington University student panel providing commentary of the State of the Union Address on ABC News. She was poised, articulate, and on message throughout Before the President’s Address began, she shared her concerns on how the tax bill undermines the Affordable Care Act. She hoped President Trump would address the issue and follow up with a plan to navigate the elimination of the tax penalty and how to keep health care premiums down, mitigating costs for families who are impacted.
As if that weren’t impressive enough for the young business strategy/political science student, ABC News followed up the next day saying that the executive producers were impressed and invited Lexi to write a SOTU response column for their website the day after the address. “I considered it a blessing from God, to have the opportunity to share my remarks on a national forum and transparently discuss my family’s story,” she said.
Her commitment to keeping health care costs affordable isn’t just an issue for Lexi, it’s personal. As she wrote, “Five years ago, I awoke to the news that my father had been in a severe car accident. He had experienced significant physical injuries and nerve damage. Ultimately, the accident would render him disabled, eligible for disability payments and Medicare coverage. My family’s journey since that day has been filled with more unpredictability and change than we could have ever imagined. Life sped up significantly and we began to understand the importance of immediacy and efficiency — both in the context of my father’s care and in the government processes in which we were now compulsory participants. Ultimately, we realized that there are some things for which you have absolutely no time to wait.”
Her recognition that time is of the essence goes far beyond her father’s story, and Lexi sees a number of issues in the world today that also need to be addressed NOW. That’s in part why she stays so busy. On campus, Lexi is the Director of the Olin School of Business’ first Diversity and Inclusion Summit, the Incoming Director of the student-run strategy firm Bear Studios, and an orientation leader. She’s passionate about the intersectionality of business and politics and the social impact that can be generated from strengthening principal-agent relationships whether they occur between legislators and constituents or companies and customers.
The Diversity and Inclusion Summit, which happened on February 9, was quite an impressive undertaking, especially as it was the University’s first. She, along with two other sophomores, realized that the issues of diversity and inclusion hadn’t been thoroughly addressed in a summit setting, and they set their sights on creating an incredible event. With a keynote panel including Arvetta Powell, Director of Diversity and Associate Experience from Build-A-Bear Workshop; Emily Pitts, Principal of Inclusion and Diversity, Edward Jones; Susan Stith, Vice President of Express Scripts; Adita Akbani, Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer; and Kim Hawkins, Multicultural Talent Acquisition Recruiter, US Bank, attendees were able to learn a lot about issues in the workplace from the best and brightest in the industry.
The keynote panel was followed by break-out sessions, and “Navigating Microagressions in the Workplace” was led by Keisha Mabry, Adjunct Lecturer at Washington University and “Friendworking” Expert. The “Women in Tech” session was led by Kelly Lee, Business Program Manager on the Infastructure Team at Facebook, and Kirsten Miller, Compliance Manager with Uber.
“These issues really spoke to me, and to the two other students I planned the summit with,” Lexi said. “To me this isn’t political, this is a business and a human issue. I’m so glad we tackled this and had these discussions at Wash U.”
Lexi brings a fresh perspective to her work and her studies at Washington University, and stays involved to include that perspective in the overall narrative. “If you are passive about an issue or disaffected by your current situation, then you will never be able to change things. If you are holding out and waiting to get involved until you feel 100% equipped to do so, you will never be able to make an impact.”
“I’m engaged and keep myself busy. I think I’ve always seen each stage of my life as an opportunity to be involved,” Lexi said. “I feel that you should always take the resources available and see what you can do to assist others and actively make the decision to affect change and get involved.”
Lexi has always been surrounded by strong women, and they have admittedly served as an inspiration to her. Her grandmother, Dianne Elizabeth Osis, founded “Springfield Business Journal” at a time when the field was considered a boy’s club and women weren’t necessarily welcomed. Her mother, Jennifer Jackson, followed in her mother’s footsteps, and has not only continued the work her mother started, but successfully navigated the publication through a changing media landscape and grew the company in the digital realm. Since taking over, she also started a communications company.
“I didn’t realize how much my grandmother had done until her retirement party. She accomplished so much while raising her children as a single mother. Her story is so empowering and made me realize that I can be successful in business and politics,” Lexi said. “And then there’s my mom, who took SBJ in a different direction, integrated a digital platform, and started a new company while dealing with the financial and emotional strain from my dad’s car accident. I’ve never been more amazed by someone handling all of that than I am by my mom.”
With the groundswell of women of every generation speaking, and working together to bring about change, Lexi has great hope for her generation, and the mark they will leave. “I think my generation will elect the first woman president, and that is not an inherent women’s issue, but it is a symbolic gesture that will solve some of the disparities we see today.”
“I also think we are going to see a massive shift in corporate culture,” Lexi added. “Family leave will be normalized, because we’re seeing innovators in that space – in all sectors – and these innovators are developing maternity and paternity leave. I think that will lead to more gender equality in the workplace, and that people will realize that women can be mothers and have successful careers.”
As Lexi wrote on Facebook, she responded to the State of the Union Address in hopes that one day she’ll give a State of the Union address of her own. Today, looking at the unique pressures that her generation faces, Lexi feels it is more important than ever to engage. “I think that it’s important to make a difference no matter who or where you are. If there weren’t challenges, there wouldn’t be the incentive to speak out.  I have a voice, and I plan to use it.”
We look forward to listening. Watching Lexi take her first steps as a strong woman to impact change is inspiring. Women who make a difference are driven by passion and Lexi is already demonstrating that she has what it takes to change history and maybe even one day, deliver her own State of the Union Address.

Closing the Pay Gap

Women are making their voices heard in 2018 and sharing their stories with #MeToo and #TimesUp. They are taking to the streets around the world and mobilizing to vote their values in the U.S. midterm elections in November. With all of this forward momentum, women are on track to effect serious change, and some indicators show that closing the gender pay gap could also become one of this year’s accomplishments.
On the world stage, Iceland takes the lead, becoming the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women for doing the same job. The new rules stipulate that all companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Employers will face fines if they are found to be in violation. The current gender pay gap in Iceland is about 14% to 18%, which the government reportedly plans to eradicate by 2022.
In the U.S. the private sector and many state agencies are starting to step up. Amazon is aligning its policies with those of Google, Facebook, and Cisco, who are now legally banned from asking prospective hires in California about their salary histories, thanks to a new law that took effect on January 1. The law currently applies only to employees in California, but most of the companies have proactively applied the law to all of their U.S. hires. Massachusetts, Oregon, Philadelphia, New York City, and San Francisco have passed similar laws over the past couple of years as well. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy just signed an executive order banning state agencies—though not private companies—from asking about salary histories. (The rule takes effect on Feb. 1). New York, Delaware, New Orleans, Pittsburg, and Albany already have similar laws in effect.
This is good news for women, because the goal of removing salary history from the application process is to make compensation more equitable. When an employer knows how much an applicant is currently making, it’s easier to figure out the lowest possible offer he or she is likely to accept. While it’s technically illegal to pay women less than a man for doing the same job, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that it’s perfectly fine if the reason for paying a woman less is a low pay rate at her last job.
Eliminating this question from the equation is a definite step towards closing the pay gap. Andrea Johnson, senior counsel for state policy at the National Women’s Law Center, says the salary history question “forces women to carry pay discrimination with them from job to job.”
Citigroup is also taking steps, announcing in January that it will raise pay for women and minorities to close the gap with men and whites. The bank’s head of human resources, Michael Murray, said Citigroup Inc. conducted a survey in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, and is dedicated to pay equity to attract top talent.
All of these are important steps towards closing the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s state-by-state research found that a girl born in the United States in 2017 has a life expectancy of 87 years. At the current pace of change, when that girl turns 65 in 2082 a wage gap will still remain in 13 states.
However, that’s only if we continue down our current path, so as my Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt writes, let’s not. “Changing policy can help and every nation should follow Iceland’s lead, but we also have to change the culture by knowing our value and insisting upon getting paid fairly for it. All that programming that taught us not to ask for certain things, really just taught us to value ourselves less than we value others. The remedy – the one and only thing that ultimately can close the pay gap – is right under our noses, in our mouths and informed by our hearts: the courage to speak up.”
The fact we are still discussing the gender pay gap and celebrating these small, and not so small steps, is both good and bad. Good in the sense that it is creating top-of-mind awareness, and bad that it is still an issue at all. Women have momentum right now, and as we work towards equality in all sectors, equal pay needs to be a priority. We need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why we deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less.

We’re Still Marching and Making Our Voices Heard!


Right now, the next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each and every one of us to help author it by fighting for what we believe in – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In 2017, on post-Inauguration Saturday, 4.6 million marched for women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again took to the streets to make their voices heard. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe.
Last year women marched to express their outrage in what The New Yorker described as a, “shell-shocked solidarity.” With hundreds of issues among them, headlines generally spoke to the core issues surrounding women’s rights, with messages as diverse as the marchers.

Power To The Polls


This year, U.S. activities focused on a power-to-the-polls theme, with a focus on registering voters and encouraging women to run for office in 2018, and especially in the November midterm elections. Women’s March organizers launched a #PowerToThePolls campaign, which focuses on combating voter suppression and making sure that all people who are eligible to vote can easily exercise that right. Reuters reported that March organizers hope to build on the energy felt by Trump opponents after his surprise election victory and channel it into gains for progressive candidates in November’s midterm elections, and they used the weekend to work towards their goal of registering one million new voters. The campaign was timely as events took place against a backdrop of political dysfunction, with the federal government newly shutdown.

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida


Nationwide, women and their families promised to use their votes to shift the course of American government during the mid-term elections. And in many areas where there wasn’t an official march, women organized and took to the streets as part of the #PowerToThePolls campaign to get people registered to vote and use their voices to shake up the status quo.

And We Marched…

Every event and gathering around the world had its moments, as energized crowds continued to work towards change. In Los Angeles, Viola Davis explained that her “testimony is one of poverty” and “one of being sexually assaulted.” She continued: “I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence.”
In New York, 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. “We are not free until all of us are free. So, love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian. Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues. For the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done. There are songs to be sung. Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”
In Washington, D.C. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emphasized the number of women running on the party’s ticket in November. “If the Congress, if the White House, if the governorships across America had more women like I see here today, we would be a much better America.”

We Marched With Our Male Allies

For many men, this year’s #MeToo movement raised greater awareness of the fight for gender equality and led them to participate more fully in the events. In Las Vegas, men at Sunday’s march said they felt an obligation to speak out about their gender’s treatment of women and stand beside women as allies. That’s good news because leading into the 2017 Women’s March, some men weren’t sure what role, if any, they should play in the day’s events. Men were “slow to support” the march, Washington Post writer Michael Alison Chandler wrote at the time, because they worried that attending a demonstration led by women would make them seem “unmasculine.”

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Will the March Be as Effective?

There was some concern leading into the weekend’s events that the movement that began with the Women’s March one year ago lacked the cohesiveness to move forward. Experts speculated that there were too many special interests and too many different messages to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. One year ago, the Women’s March aimed to start a movement of women from all walks of life who would continue their activism long after they had gone home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.
One year ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build a network of like-minded people. The networks that were formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active.
Jo Reger, a professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the feminist movement, like other important social movements, has always had people coming together and then breaking apart. “We think it looks so chaotic and full of factions and what it really looks like is every other social movement. Often those factions end up coming back together later on.”
Whether you marched, registered voters, or supported your sisters on the street in some other way, it’s time to turn our focus to the polls, register voters and support women preparing to run. It is at the polls that we can truly affect change and create a world where women and men don’t have to march in protest, but instead live in a world where equality is the standard, and women are safe in the workplace, and in the community. Change starts now. Let’s work together. To make it happen.

You Can Help Women Speak Out

2017 was the year that women made their voices heard, particularly in Hollywood. It was there that women spoke out, and their allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment by producer Harvey Weinstein and a growing list of other high-profile men launched a national conversation about power and abuse. As a result, we have reached a tipping point and nationwide, women from all walks of life are courageously speaking out about being harassed, groped, cat-called and even raped. These women have broken their silence, and by talking about their experiences in the workplace and in their communities, they are helping other women do the same.
Some women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others, and stepping up to say, “me too,” whereas others still hesitate. Perhaps they are worried about the ramifications of doing so. Maybe they are afraid they won’t be believed, or worry about retaliation, harm to their careers, financial losses, threats to their safety and more.
Some experts speculate we’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes exposing sexual harassment. According to a 2017 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) study, three-fourths of sexual harassment victims never report it. The EEOC also reports that up to 85 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and many men as well. However, other reports show the tide is shifting. One evidence of this is a TIME/SurveyMonkey online poll of American adults conducted in November, where 82% of respondents said women are more likely to speak out about harassment since the Weinstein allegations. Either way, there are still a lot of women keeping their stories to themselves, and not receiving the support and resources they need.
Whether a woman steps forward with allegations, or shares her story with you quietly — a whispered conversation over a cup of coffee, or a tearful recount at the water cooler — she needs your support. After all, punishments and threats to keep women quiet remain prevalent, and whether she makes headlines or just makes small waves, she needs to know she is not alone. It is up to us, women and men, to support the women who find the courage and strength to share their stories, and support them as they navigate the process.  Here are a few ways we can help.
Listen – Listening builds a foundation of trust, creates empathy, and paves the way for conversation. If we all take real time to listen, we can truly support the woman speaking her truth and clearly show her that her voice has merit. But as The Wall Street Journal recently reported, experts find we’re naturally not good at listening. We have a tendency to swap stories, so we interrupt. We’re uncomfortable with emotions, so we avoid focusing too closely on someone else’s feelings. We’d rather talk about ourselves, so we rush the talker along. We need to hone our listening skills, take time to hear what each woman has to say, be a support, and help the speaker share her truth.
Lend Your Voice – Today, the actions of the women speaking out are spurring many others to do the same. As we can see in TIME’s “Silence Breakers,” whether the woman speaking out is a world-famous actress in Hollywood or a housekeeper or a nurse in the Midwest, what separates them is less important than what brought them together — a shared experience. Whether you have a story of your own to share, or want to lend your voice to theirs to bring about accountability and change, now is the time to make your voice heard. We must add our voices to this cause. We must be part of the solution.
Offer Your Support – Those who have come forward publicly have helped others, and many women now feel safe speaking out. These advances are real and valuable. However, we need to look deeper at the inequalities that keep harassers safe and victims silent. We need to support initiatives geared towards removing these inequalities and creating a just and equal workplace and society. Whether you volunteer, join in a march, participate in a movement, or reach out to your human resources department or elected officials – act. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines and observe. Lend your time, talent, and resources to help bring about change. We can also reach out to our male allies and ask for their support. While they may not be able to directly relate to the experiences that women are sharing, they can and do feel empathy, express compassion, and can lend their voices and support, not only to help prevent harassment, but to build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
The time to act is now. The world is paying attention. It is crucial that we keep moving forward, help women speak out, and do what we can to build a world where all women, and men, are able to live without fear of harassment, and are valued and treated equally.
 

2018 To Be Another “Year of the Woman”

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically change the world. And you have to do it all the time.”Angela Davis
While 2017 was a tough year, it was also one of a great deal of progress. It was in 2017 that women made their voices heard in unprecedented numbers. From the Women’s March on Washington to the floodgates opened with the #MeToo movement, women are proving that they are no longer willing to remain silent, and the momentum of change is fast and far reaching.
TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the magazine’s Person of the Year, in a nod to the women coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, and not only for the global conversation, but the movement they began. Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards write in TIME that, “This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.”
While the fight for equality, justice and dignity for women started with the suffragettes, the events of this past year have made a similar impact, and women are taking their message to the streets, the internet, and the workplace. Retired US Senator Barbara Boxer writes in USA Today, “As we say goodbye to the chaos of 2017 and its seemingly never-ending turmoil about…well everything…I believe it is possible, maybe even probable, that we will see 2018 turn into another Year of the Woman.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees and has also been quoted as saying that 2018 could be another big year for women. Predicting that female candidates could sweep elections across the country, she recently told party officials at the California Democratic Party Executive Board meeting that, “Based on what I see out there that we are going to have another Year of the Woman.”
“What it means is that we have an opportunity to really turn this next year into a year of change affecting women,” she added.
So how can we best position ourselves to help make that change? Here are a few places we could start.
Support the women speaking out. As Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.” Right now, women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress. The problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves. Right now, we need to listen to the women who are speaking out, and create environments that are safe for all women and men.
Support the women running for office. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run have all reported a huge surge in women interested in running for office. As these women muster their courage and support and take the first steps to run for office, it demonstrates that this truly is a woman’s time to lead. It’s important in this time of unprecedented female engagement that we support the women who are running, and those who have run, perhaps already won, already hold office, and are serving in their communities, states, and nation on every level. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way, and support those who prepare to follow their lead.
Make your voice heard. Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
Work towards gender equality. The solution to much of what has been coming out of the #MeToo movement could be solved by having more women in leadership positions. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the harmful effects of living in a male-dominated culture.
In 2017 we have seen an unbelievable progress towards gender equality, however, we will still need to continue to fight and work hard to claim equal rights for women. That is going to take all of us working together, and joining forces with the women and men in our lives who, like us, feel that equality shouldn’t be a lofty goal, but a way a life.

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