Women’s History Month at The White House: Closing the Gender Gap
Issues Impacting Women
I recently attended a special reception in honor of Women’s History Month at The White House. During his speech, President Obama said,
“We still need to fight for economic equality, for equal opportunities for entrepreneurs, for equal pay for equal work. We still need to make sure that paid family leave is not the exception around the country, but is the rule, so that women, especially low-income women, don't lose their jobs for minor things like giving birth. We have to end violence against women. We have to end practices like child marriage. We've got to make sure that girls around the world have the same opportunities as boys to go to school."
Wow, that’s a long list of challenges that women and girls continue to face. And I know that these issues are important to the professional women in the Ellevate community as well. When asked where Ellevate should focus its philanthropic efforts, the Ellevate community pointed to education of girls (28%), support of female entrepreneurship (21%), supporting small women-owned businesses globally (15%) and ending sex trafficking and/or domestic violence (15%). Additionally, 86% of Ellevate members think that the U.S. should pass laws to require companies to disclose gender pay gaps.
How Do We Drive Change?
I think that we should all be demanding a better world for women. Women are an awesome force. And I’m not biased because I’m a woman — the stats speak for themselves. Women make up half of the global population, contribute $7 trillion in US consumer and business spending and drive 85% of all consumer purchasing. That’s pretty awesome. Plus, there is increasing evidence that countries that eliminate gender inequality do better.
President Obama summarized this best when he said,
“But, in general, as a whole, I think it's fair to say that things would be a whole lot better if it was more reflective of our populations and the people who are doing a lot of the work that gets unpaid, and who are holding communities together, and making community organizations work, and making places of worship work, and making child-rearing work. The good news is, is that we’ve got a real opportunity to build a freer and fairer and more just society -- online and offline.
Female role models such as Venus Williams, Jennifer Lawrence and Malala Yousafzai are using their influence to break boundaries, have courageous conversations about gender inequalities in the world, and strive for change.
Ellevate members are doing their part to close the gender gap by mentoring other women (20%), calling out gender inequalities when they see them (16%), sponsoring and advocating for other women (13%), and hiring women (12%).
And what can you do? Teach children that we are all created equal, mentor a female veteran transitioning into the workforce, use your voice on social media to engage in conversations around gender inequalities, and most importantly, #InvestInYourself by asking for the raise, growing your network, and pursuing your dreams.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Kristy Wallace is the CEO of Ellevate Network, and is responsible for executing Ellevate Network’s mission to close the gender achievement gap in business by providing professional women with a global community to lean on and learn from. She directs the Network’s staff, is responsible for business growth and strategy, and works closely with Ellevate's Chapter Leaders, Business Partners, and Champions to further Ellevate's impact. Kristy is host of the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations with Women Changing... Continue Reading
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