A letter from our CEO
If you don't like the way the world is, you have an obligation to change it. Just do it one step at a time. - Marian Wright Edelman

I am not sure exactly when Marian Edelman spoke these words, but they ring so true today. We are living in a time where we have a rise in pontificators, but not an equal rise in agitators. We have a plethora of pundits vehemently examining the woes of the nation, but we lack the same zeal to take the necessary actions to change it. 

As we close out Black History Month, I want to use this space to honor lesser-known Black women who were courageous agitators. They understood their obligation to be the change they wanted to see and sparked normative shifts for all American women.

Amelia Boynton Robinson – helped organize the Selma March and became the first Black woman to run for Congress in Alabama.
Jane Bolin – the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School and became the nation’s first Black woman judge.

Daisy Bates – helped start one of the first Black newspapers entirely dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement.

Claudette Colvin – one of the original youth activists and the first person to refuse to give up her bus seat for a white person, at the young age of 15, months before Rosa Parks.

Marsha P. Johnson – an LGBTQ activist and transwoman who helped lead the Stonewall riots.

Constance Baker Motley – the first Black woman to become a federal judge and serve in the New York State Senate.

Fannie Lou Hamer – endured lifelong physical injuries to secure the right to vote. Not deterred by acts of violence or threats, she would later become one of the most powerful voices of the civil and voting rights movements.

Dorothy Height – an unsung heroine of the civil rights era and a women’s rights advocate. She led the National Council of Negro Women and helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus alongside Gloria Steinem.

Sylvia Mendez – with her family, led the fight to integrate schools before Brown vs. Board of Education, leading to California becoming the first state to desegregate schools.

We must motivate and inspire people to continue to remain active in our democracy and hopeful that they can affect change. We must encourage grassroots activism, mobilize diverse coalitions, and empower communities and marginalized populations to rise up. We must vote , and be counted in the Census . And, most importantly, we must persist in challenging the status quo and protecting all the hard-fought rights won on our behalf.
Cherita Ellens, CEO
Take Action Today!
Making college affordable, accessible, and equitable. Strengthening career pathways to family-sustaining wages. Improving job quality for all workers. Advancing gender equity at work.
Black Women NEED Paid Family and Medical Leave!
Over 65 percent of black households are headed by women. One in four of these households are multi-generational, meaning black women are taking care of kids, parents, grandkids, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles —on top of taking care of themselves.

This month, we marked the 27th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). But the current status of family and medical leave in America does not protect or provide grace for black women. While FMLA was a big step forward, providing job-protected leave, that leave is unpaid. And too many women can't afford to take unpaid time off work. It's an issue that especially impacts black women, who experience higher rates of pregnancy-related complications and maternal mortality, and who are over-represented in low-paid jobs. In addition to the health impacts, the lack of paid leave decreases their attendance in higher education, lifetime earnings, and the likelihood of building generational wealth, according to the Black Women’s Roundtable.  

Without efficient and effective paid leave laws, black women are left to constantly choose between their paychecks and the health of themselves and their families. And when more than 80 percent of Black mothers are the sole or key breadwinners in their families, unpaid leave—even if they were eligible—is not a viable option. 

According to The Economic Opportunity Institute , which conducted listening sessions with black women about the need for paid leave, "some had taken leave under FMLA, and experienced a great deal of financial stress because the leave was unpaid. One woman described having taken unpaid FMLA after both of her daughters were born by C-section and the financial strain that resulted. Others had cobbled together sick leave, PTO, unpaid leave, and in a few cases, donated leave from coworkers to cover these leaves."

Black Women NEED strong, accessible, affordable, and adequate paid leave to be great leaders in their homes and workplaces. The vast majority of American voters support paid family and medical leave. Our current laws aren’t keeping up with the needs of our families or a modern economy. 

Tell Congress to support the FAMILY Act , a solution to this dilemma. It would provide all workers in the United States with 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves and their families while keeping their jobs and their incomes secure.
In Case You Missed It: Advocacy on Tap 2020 Recap
On February 4th, our Advocacy Council hosted their 2nd annual Advocacy on Tap to raise a glass for a night of fundraising—and fun— with friends! 

We celebrated recent victories and strategized about our plans for 2020, we drank delicious Lagunitas beer and moved to the music of Meagan McNeal, and, thanks to YOU , we raised THOUSANDS to advance a mission that matters to all of us: equity for all. We're already excited about 2021's event! See you all there!

Interested in participating in the Advocacy Council? Contact Amanda Collins at acollins@womenemployed.org
We’re Not Interchangeable: Telling the Real Economic Stories of AAPI Women on
AAPI Equal Pay Day

written by: Corinne Kodama, Women Employed's Policy Analyst

February 11th was AAPI Equal Pay Day, marking the extra weeks into 2020 that Asian /Pacific Islander women need to work to earn the same as White, non-Hispanic men did the previous year. However, given the great economic disparities between Asian American and Pacific Islander women from different ethnic groups, this date is misleading. The National Women’s Law Center notes that while AAPI Equal Pay Day represents that on average AAPI women make 90 cents to the dollar of White men,  there is great variation among Asian ethnic groups and some, like Nepalese women, earn as little as 50 cents to a White man’s dollar.
Save the Date: The Working Lunch
Thursday, May 14, 2020

11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago

Join us for our much-anticipated annual
luncheon. You and 1,000 of your closest friends will spend the afternoon networking, celebrating success, and learning how to continue to move equity forward.
Apply to be a Women Employed Summer Leader By March 8th!
We are now accepting applications for our 2020 class of The Pattis Family Foundation Summer Leadership Program.

Are you or someone you know currently or previously enrolled in a postsecondary education/training program and interested in learning more about the non-profit world? Women Employed’s Summer Leader program is the perfect place to be!

Learn all the details about the program and fill out the application here! Good luck!
What's New on Social?

In 2019, more than 80,000 eligible students in Illinois did not receive financial aid through the Monetary Award Program (MAP) to help pay for college. Join us every  #MAPMonday  to learn why MAP Matters, see how it’s impacting your college, and learn how to reach out to legislators so that we can get MAP fully funded!  #MAPMatters

This  #BlackHistoryMonth , WE is featuring Black women icons who've risen up and spoken up for the progression and protection of Black people, especially Black women. Since 2020 is a critical election year, we are focusing on women who fought for voting rights.
Let's tune into  #BlackHERStory !

Women Employed to be Honored By
'Geeks Who Drink'
Did someone say TRIVIA? Some of the smartest people we know are women, and they are changing the WORLD!
So we are psyched that Geeks Who Drink has chosen Women Employed as their charity of choice for #GeekBowlXIV, happening in Chicago on March 7!

Trivia buffs from around the country will test their chops, and thanks to a gift from Geeks Who Drink, they’ll help drive our work to change the world for working women!

Tickets for the main event are sold out, but you can still get tickets for one of their pre-events: warm-up trivia at Goose Island on March 5th and a party featuring the all-female Beastie Boys tribute band She's Crafty on March 6th ! You can also join in & amplify the impact by making a gift to WE today!
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