advocacy platform

Feminism today is about the connectivity among people across a broad range of issues. We must create a collective effort for equity that challenges injustices of all kinds, addresses overlapping forms of discrimination, engages more women, including gender-expansive people, and calls men to join and celebrate the movement.

 

The Women’s Fund is committed to inclusivity and is working to create the future we all want – now. We believe women must be safe in their homes and in the community, possess economic power, and hold positions of decision-making authority and influence in all spaces. We acknowledge that to do so a woman’s right to control her own destiny requires legal protection and defense of bodily autotomy.

The Women’s Fund fulfills this mission by aggressively funding advocacy through our competitive grant programs. We bring people together in spaces and at events grounded in these principles, defined by positive energy and affirmation, across generations. We make concrete advocacy suggestions to individuals and organizations who engage with the Women’s Fund, and we are unafraid of taking a stance on the issues impacting women and girls.

PERSONAL SAFETY & SEXUAL VIOLENCE

In Wisconsin, the reality of sexual violence is stark: approximately one in three adult women have been affected, with an assault reported nearly every seven hours and 43 minutes. Even more alarming is that in 88.9% of these cases, the assailants are known to the victims. Despite the advancements of the #MeToo movement, many survivors still face significant obstacles in reporting their experiences and seeking justice, often grappling with both psychological and economic impacts.

Our commitment to the personal safety of women is unwavering. We believe in and support victims of sexual violence, advocating for a world free from shame and stigma. Our proactive approach focuses on education and empowerment, to create a safer and more respectful environment for survivors. We challenge societal norms that perpetuate this violence and partner with organizations to provide survivors with essential services. Through these efforts, The Women’s Fund ensures survivors receive the care and justice they rightly deserve.

BODILY AUTONOMY AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE
On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the federal protection of abortion rights established in 1973. This decision marked a significant shift in the American legal landscape, challenging long-held views on the government’s role in personal decisions and sparking a nationwide debate about the principles of self-determination and the right to make choices about one’s body, health, and life. 

We stand firmly for women’s autonomy over their bodies and healthcare decisions. Having children is a deeply private choice with significant personal, professional, and economic implications. Such decisions should rest in the hands of the individuals concerned, not dictated by the state. Our commitment is to advocate for and support the rights and health of women and families in this changing legal environment to ensure safe and ready access to abortions, contraceptives, and other forms of women’s healthcare.

voting and candidacy
Wisconsin proudly led the way as the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment. Continuing to showcase a deep-rooted commitment to women’s suffrage, despite facing unprecedented challenges like the pandemic and voter suppression, Wisconsin saw remarkable voter turnout in the 2020 presidential and 2023 spring elections. It’s crucial to recognize, however, that Milwaukee County’s turnout is not keeping pace, particularly among Black, Latina, and suburban women voters.

Championing democracy and women’s pivotal roles within the process, the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee persuasively addresses decreasing voter turnout by increasing women’s voting participation and supporting more female candidates in elections — when more women vote and are elected, it positively shifts public policies on critical issues like healthcare, the economy, and the environment.

PAY EQUITY
In Wisconsin, the wage gap persists with women earning 81 cents to every dollar a man makes, as reported by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) for 2021. This disparity is even greater for racial minorities: Black women earn 59 cents, Latina women 57 cents, Native American women 64 cents, and Asian women 75 cents compared to every dollar earned by a white man.

The Women’s Fund advocates for equal pay for equal work, asserting that caregiving and traditionally female-dominated professions deserve higher recognition and compensation. We also aim for a future where career choices are not defined by gender — promoting equal opportunities in all fields from STEM to nursing.

PAID LEAVE
Women often shoulder the greater burden of caregiving responsibilities, are more frequently victims of domestic violence and face their own health challenges. In Wisconsin, employers are not mandated to offer paid family, safe, or parental leave. Although the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County provide employees some paid leave, this is not a widespread practice among private employers in the county.

The Women’s Fund advocates that no woman should lose income to access healthcare, care for family, bond with a new child, or escape abusive situations. Paid leave stabilizes family finances and benefits businesses through improved employee morale, increased productivity and reduced turnover costs. Therefore, the Women’s Fund challenges private employers to provide paid leave to employees.

RACE IN EDUCATION
Wisconsin schools face significant disparities in outcomes between students of color and their white peers. Statewide school finance systems often favor wealthier, predominantly white communities, leaving less affluent areas with more students of color at a disadvantage. Additionally, district-level practices contribute to these disparities, including biased ability tracking systems, subjective disciplinary policies, and unaddressed school culture issues affecting students of color.

The Women’s Fund asserts that education is the cornerstone of lifelong opportunities. We advocate for equitable school funding models that ensure all communities have the resources for excellent education. Locally, we support policies that address and rectify structural factors causing racial disparities in schools. This includes offering equal access to advanced academic programs, developing unbiased discipline codes, and establishing inclusive school cultures.

EMPOWERING YOUNG WOMEN

Current research highlights a concerning trend in the confidence levels of women and girls. Studies, including those by authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay of “The Confidence Code for Girls” and YPULSE, reveal that while boys and girls exhibit similar confidence levels up to age eight; however, there is a 30% drop in girls’ confidence between the ages of eight and 14. This decline in confidence leads to fear of failure and an overwhelming pressure to be perfect. Moreover, when considering careers in engineering, tween and teen boys are more than three times as likely as girls to see themselves as successful.

The Women’s Fund recognizes the critical importance of confidence, self-empowerment, and self-worth in enabling women and girls to lead the lives they aspire to. We are committed to nurturing these qualities and empowering women and gender-expansive people to take action for their own benefit and the benefit of others.

ACCESS TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
In Milwaukee, only a third of children have equitable access to affordable, quality early childhood education. Affordable early childhood education should cost less than 7% of household income, yet low-income families spend an average of 11%, and low-income Black families up to 31%, of their income on childcare. The lack of access to affordable childcare disproportionately impacts women and often forces women to choose between spending an inordinate amount of their income on childcare or leaving the workplace to become full-time caregivers. 

The Women’s Fund firmly believes that equitable access to early childhood education is essential for the greater Milwaukee community. Greater access would allow women the opportunity to remain in the workplace, progress in their careers, and earn more while supporting child development. The Women’s Fund supports policies that would increase access to low- and middle-income families by making childcare more affordable, opening centers in childcare deserts, and extending hours to nights and weekends.