women’s rights

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.

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.

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.

Five Ways to Negotiate a Higher Salary

It’s a fact that women are underpaid. Nationwide in 2016, Labor Department data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. It’s important to keep in mind the wage gap isn’t limited to the C-Suite, but is prevalent across the board, and that disparity doesn’t just affect women, but their entire families. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families.
One way to narrow the wage gap is for women to negotiate a fair wage from the beginning, which for many, is straight out of college. More than three-quarters of employers said recent graduates appeared more confident when they asked for more money, according to a 2015 NerdWallet survey. Flexing negotiation muscle can also demonstrate your effectiveness as an employee.
Carol Frohlinger, JD, managing partner of Negotiating Women, has found in her research that most women simply do not negotiate, and only 16 percent of women she surveyed always negotiate compensation when a job offer is made or during performance evaluations. Ultimately, Frohlinger and her colleagues found that women are uncomfortable negotiating compensation and don’t do it as effectively as men.
Keep in mind that you are worth it. you have the skill set, knowledge, and experience for the job. Assume that your salary is negotiable, and that you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive. Here are five ways you can work to close the wage gap, and get the fair pay that you deserve.
1 – Know Your Worth. DailyWorth.com points how that you can’t score a great first salary if you don’t even know what a great first salary would be — so before you even get to the negotiation table, it’s critical to do your research. One great place to start is with Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth personal salary estimator, that offers a free estimate of what you should be making based on your job title, location, years of experience and other factors that you can use as a baseline.
2 – Exude Confidence. What do you bring to the table? Make a list of your major contributions and accomplishments, quantifying them whenever possible. BusinessNewsDaily.com points out that confidence is essential to being a strong negotiator. You must exude self-assurance, even if you insecure or uncertain. Don’t apologize for negotiating – own it.
3 – Ask. My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt recently wrote at Motto.com that as a small child, her daddy used to tell her, “She who asks, gets.” And one thing is sure: she who doesn’t ask is guaranteed not to get. Feldt writes the best way to get comfortable asking is to normalize it. “We have to ask until everyone, male and female, sees women’s asking as expected behavior. Ask until it feels normal to you. Flex those asking muscles and they will grow. Create a new stereotype — one that says, ‘you bet women ask.’”
4 – Silence is Golden. Katie Donovan, the founder of Equal Pay Negotiations says that one of the most important tactics to an effective negotiation is learning to become comfortable with occasional bouts of awkward silence. She says that women need to stop selling themselves and simply need to ask a question, then shut up and give the other person a chance to respond. The team at Fairygodboss points out one of their favorite practical negotiating tips from salary experts is to take a moment to be silent when you need more time to react, or think. Or perhaps, you simply don’t know what to say. Silence can play to your advantage. Nobody likes uncomfortable silences and you can use this type of delay tactic to buy yourself time to think.
5 – Make it Bigger Than You. Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid, suggests that women to think about how their decision affects others, and recommends that they consider how successfully negotiating can buoy the confidence of other women and help close the wage gap. You can also pretend you’re negotiating on a friend’s behalf. Another Harvard Kennedy School study showed that women who did so asked for almost $7,000 more on average than if they negotiated for themselves.
It’s time to change the status quo and work together to make negotiations expected, not defined by gender. Together we need to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, and ask for what we deserve. When we follow Feldt’s lead and ask until it becomes the norm, know what we’re worth, and advocate for one another, wage equality won’t continue to be a pervasive problem, but instead will become a distant memory.
 

The White House and the Wage Gap

During the past couple of weeks, the White House has been in the news for issues surrounding wage equality. While the the number of employees working for the White House is almost evenly split, with about 47 percent of the 359 regular employees being female and 53 percent male, the wage gap is alive and well.
Nationwide in 2016, Labor Department data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. However, women working in the White House earn an average salary of 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues, a CNN analysis found.  The average salary among men working in the White House was nearly $104,000, according to an analysis of the White House’s annual report to Congress, whereas for women, it was about $83,000. That’s $21,000 less on average.
This disparity is not limited to the current administration, but it is more pronounced. A 2014 CBS report found that the average female employee in the Obama White House earned about $78,400, while the average male employee earned about $88,600. That’s a gap of 13 percent – the same percentage as in 2009.
While recent statistics find the gender pay gap exists in almost every congressional district, the White House continues to lag behind the private sector. It’s unfortunate, because the economic impact of equal pay for women is significant enough that it should be at the top of strategies for economic growth. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Group, the United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality. The McKinsey reportThe Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States, finds that every US state and city can add at least 5 percent to their GDP by advancing the economic potential of women. Half of US states have the potential to add more than 10 percent, and the country’s 50 largest cities can increase GDP by 6 to 13 percent.
The White House Fact Sheet on Closing the Gender Wage Gap also reminds us that achieving equal pay for equal work isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. The wage disparity isn’t limited to the C-Suite or those walking the halls of the White House. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families. Researchers estimate that the country’s number of working single mothers who live in poverty would drop from about 30% to 15% if they earned on average as much as comparably skilled men.
Ultimately, we need to point out the pay injustices at every level in our communities and the workplace, strengthen our equal pay laws so that women are better able to fight pay discrimination, and build ladders to better paying jobs for women by removing barriers to  male-dominated fields. Together we need to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, and support legislation. Most importantly we need recognize this issue is not going to go away, and it will take all of our voices, our actions, and our strength to level the playing field. It is only by working together that we can achieve full workplace and wage equality, at the White House, or at the corner store.
 
 

Closing the Wage Gap Brings Families Out of Poverty

Closing the wage gap isn’t simply a matter of doing what’s right; for many families, it is a matter of survival. As it sits now, three in four American families with young children rely on a mother’s earnings, and many women aren’t earning nearly enough. A new analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that regardless of whether mothers are married or single, they have significantly lower earnings than their male counterparts, with a slightly narrower gap for married mothers. The analysis shows that in 2015 married mothers earned 73.3 percent of married fathers’ earnings ($44,000, compared with $60,000), while single mothers earned 70.7 percent of what single fathers earned ($31,100, compared with $44,000).
In the US, married mothers are the primary or co-breadwinners in more than half of families, and more than 15.2 million family households are headed by women. One in three of those families have incomes that fall below the poverty level. According to the UN Women, if the wage gap were eliminated, on average, a working woman in the United States would be able to afford the equivalent of 83 more weeks of food for her family.
She also might have a shot at affording childcare. Right now, childcare for two children exceeds the median annual rent in all 50 states. Not only is childcare more than rent, in many instances, it costs more than college. A recent report from the think tank New America finds that, on average, full-time care for children under the age of four is $9,589 a year, while the average cost of in-state college tuition is $9,410. This means a family earning the median household income would spend one-fifth of its income on childcare. For a single parent earning minimum wage, the percentage is much higher, with childcare accounting for two thirds of their annual income.
If couples with children in the home are struggling as a result of the wage gap, it is even harder for single mothers. According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2016, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today one in four children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million — are being raised without a father and almost half (40%) live below the poverty line. Taking the effects of the wage gap even further, over one-third (34.4%) of single mother families were “food insecure,” 13% used food pantries, and one-third spent more than half their income on housing, which is generally considered the threshold for “severe housing cost burden.”
As evidenced from an earlier study from IWPR, female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families. The country’s number of working single mothers who live in poverty would drop from about 30% to 15%, researchers estimate, if they earned on average as much as comparably skilled men.
The White House Fact Sheet on Closing the Gender Wage Gap reminds us that achieving equal pay for equal work isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. Realizing that for many the situation brought on by the wage gap is critical, the question is, what can we do? According to the National Women’s Law Center, we can:

  • Strengthen our equal pay laws so that women are better able to fight back against pay discrimination.
  • Build ladders to better paying jobs for women by removing barriers to entry into male-dominated fields.
  • Lift up the wages of women in low-wage jobs by raising the minimum wage.
  • Increase the availability of high-quality, affordable child care.
  • Help prevent caregiver and pregnancy discrimination against women workers.
  • Provide fair work schedules, paid family leave, and paid sick days so that workers with caregiving responsibilities are not unfairly disadvantaged.

Together we need to take action, to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, point out injustices in our communities and in the workplace, and support legislation. Most importantly we need to join hands with our sisters and unite our voices, our actions, and our strength. That’s how change happens, and how together we can achieve full workplace and wage equality.

Three Ways You Can Help Change the World


An estimated 4.5 million Americans, mostly female, made history when they joined the Women’s March the day after the 2017 presidential inauguration. Since then, many have taken up political activism for the first time. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, women are rethinking how they allocate their time and energy. They are either engaging in political activities, joining grass-roots groups or finding new career paths, including running for office, to further causes they believe in. In fact, organizations that recruit and train women to run for office have reported unprecedented interest in their programs at every level nationwide.
The recent election has motivated women at all points on the political spectrum to get involved. Many people are recruiting women to become candidates, and overall volunteer numbers are on the rise. Many women realize that running for office isn’t the only way that they can advocate for a cause they’re passionate about; funneling energy into community activism can also make a difference.
It’s definitely an exciting, perhaps unprecedented time for activism. Actress Kerry Washington summed up the connectedness many women are feeling right now in Glamour, “That idea of holding each other’s hands at the Women’s March – it feels like we are being invited to do that every day. So many of us are feeling attacked, and feel the need to protect and defend our democracy. And the march toward the dream of being ‘We the people.’ So that’s exciting, scary, and frustrating. We’re awake. We are awake more than ever before, and we have to stay awake.”
The sense of activism that’s swept the country is undeniably powerful, and history has proven that women who are passionate about a specific cause can be highly effective. So, the question is, if political office isn’t in your immediate future, how can you best get involved? You should definitely volunteer. Here are three great ways you can get busy making a difference in your community today.
Support a candidate you believe in. Whether you’re canvassing neighborhoods, making phone calls, or helping organize special events, female candidates need women like us to support them and help them reach their goals. It is only by helping them get elected that they can be our voice and help bring about change. Women are underrepresented in politics at every level of government. Whether the candidate is running for school board, city council or a state or national elected office, she needs our help. A simple phone call to campaign headquarters can get you started.
Align with a cause to move women forward. Whether it is joining the fight for fair wages or women’s equality, there are plenty of established causes and new outlets popping up every day that can help you make your voice heard.  You can spend a few hours each week doing everything from making calls to Congress to helping get voters educated or registered. Look locally and nationally for causes or movements that resonate with you, and make the call to get involved.
Connect with what matters to you. Is it education? Animals? Parks? Literacy? Food assistance? What excites you? What pulls at your heartstrings? Volunteer for something that is meaningful to you. All non-profits love volunteers, and you can usually get started with a phone call and a few simple forms. If you don’t have a particular organization in mind, there are several online resources like VolunteerMatch.org that can help you choose just the right outlet.
Whether you have a few hours a month or a few days a week, getting out there and getting immersed in your local community is where change starts. By lending our time, treasure, and talent to the places that we call home, we can build a solid foundation for growth. We need to work together to make our voices heard, and celebrate the women who are out there paving the way. When women get involved to help other women, we all win! It is time to help one another and change the world for the better!

We Need More Women in Public Office

Following in the footsteps of tenacious women leaders is something we should all aspire to, and the recent election has served as a rallying cry to women on both ends of the political spectrum to get involved. It has also encouraged people to recruit women to become candidates, especially women who are passionate about a specific issue. In fact, organizations that recruit and train women to run for office have reported unprecedented interest in their programs at every level nationwide.
Women who are passionate about a specific cause prove to be highly effective leaders and legislators, and it’s safe to say, we need more of them. Take the case of Rep. Edith Green, labeled the “Mother of Higher Education,” who authored the Higher Education Facilities Act (1963) and the Higher Education Act (1965). Her work improved college and university libraries, classrooms, and laboratories and authorized federal financial assistance for undergraduate students. She also fought for women’s equality and spent eight years persuading Congress to pass the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which mandated that women and men receive equal pay for equal work. Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin from Montana voted against the U.S. entry into World War I. Other women legislators have sought peaceful solutions to crises. Since her election in 1999, for example, Rep. Barbara Lee has taken on Rankin’s role as a staunch opponent to war.
Rankin also has the distinction of being the first female member of Congress. In the century since she began her service, hundreds of women have followed in her footsteps. After gaining the right to vote in 1920, progress was initially limited to an occasional woman ambassador or woman running for legislative office. However, we started to see an uptick when Margaret Chase Smith ran for the Republican ticket in 1964 against Barry Goldwater, and became the first woman ever to receive more than one vote at a major party convention. By the 1990s, women were elected in numbers to the U.S. Senate, and the millennium brought the first woman Speaker of the House, the first woman to win a presidential primary, and the first woman to win a major party nomination.
Rankin, and the women who have followed her generally enter public life because they are passionate about the issues, and want to work for change. Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics and a political science professor at Rutgers, has reached a conclusion that is backed by conversations with women in Congress: Women, far more than men, prize results over status. Referring to an often-cited 2001 survey of American members of Congress, the number one reason to run for office, according to female legislators, is the ability to effect change in society. The number one reason for men? They always wanted to be a politician.
“Women just want to get things done,” Dittmar said in The Atlantic. “They’re not in it for the show.”
We need to look to the women who have run, perhaps already won, already hold office, and are getting things done in their communities, states, and nation on every level and realize that any of us can make the leap of faith and give it a try. Whether it’s the school board, city government, state or national office, we need to run ourselves or lend our support to help another woman run. That is how we make our voices heard. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way, and support those ready to follow their lead. It’s when women help women that we all win, and it is time to help one another and change the world for the better!

Leading Women Co-Author Releases New Book and Documentary

March is a busy month for my Leading Women co-author Linda Rendleman. Not only does it see the release of her third book, Women Like Us – Together Changing the World, but also the premier of the documentary it inspired, Women Like Us – Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World, which is showing at the Los Angeles Women’s Film Festival on March 25.
“Women Like Us” – the film is a call-to-action for women everywhere as they join together and use their innate skills of compassion, courage, and voices to confront injustices and promote equality and education for all humanity. The film follows three women on a moving journey of exploration. Throughout their travels, you’ll experience their personal journeys of adversity and evolution, and witness the unimaginable social injustices women face around the globe.
Film producer Sally Colon-Petree and award-winning journalist Catt Sadler joined Linda to travel the US and Kenya and engage in conversations with over fourteen astounding women. The filmmakers impart valuable lessons learned from powerful role models such as Ida Odinga, former First Lady of Kenya; Caroline Barnett, cofounder of the Los Angeles Dream Center; CNN Hero Robin Emmons; Dianne Hudson, executive producer of the Oprah Winfrey show and many more.
Linda says that screenings of the film in tandem with book signings at locations across the country are being planned in an effort to create awareness, discussion and action for change through women’s leadership. One event is planned in Los Angeles in May, and another in Indianapolis in July.
Women Like Us – Together Changing the World focuses on the stories of well-known and little-known women who are coming together in their own way with their own voices to speak up for the vulnerable, link arms with compassion and connection, and share how the reader, in her own way, can be part of the change. I was honored to be able to contribute to this project, and share some of the lessons learned and insights gained along the way.
“I was honored to have Dr. Nancy O’Reilly as one of the authors,” Linda said. “Her story, and the stories of 18 other women, serve as a message to women and girls everywhere that yes, you too can reach out and make an impact in the world on whatever level and however you decide.”
Linda is an award-winning speaker and an author who focuses on sharing motivating and uplifting strategies to support women to be the best that they can be. Her first book, Women Like Us – Real Stories and Strategies for Living your Best Life, was published eight years ago, and was the impetus for the Women Like Us Foundation. She quickly followed that book project with Women Like Us – Illuminating the World.
The Women Like Us Foundation is committed to sustaining women’s leadership through creating awareness of women-led initiatives and granting funds. Operating under the mission of promoting gender equality and social justice through women’s leadership, increasing awareness and offering stability in key areas led by women, the Foundation envisions an educated world with equality for all individuals and collectively coming together in support of social justice. To find out more about the Women Like Us Foundation, click HERE.
 

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