In 2021, the Women’s Fund celebrates an important milestone, our 35th year. This milestone provides a moment to reflect on the journey. From Founding Mothers to Grant Partners and HER Scholars, we are advancing equity for women and have been since the beginning. We are following roads paved by our early funders, called Fund Builders and Forward Funders.
We are humbled to be watching, experiencing, and celebrating all the “Firsts” of the current era. Much has changed since we first launched 35 years ago. In 1986 there were 2 women senators, today there are 24. There were 2 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, today there are more than 35. Women were not allowed in several private clubs, like the Milwaukee and University Clubs and civic organizations like, Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. That year marked the first time an all-female flight crew commanded both the cockpit and the cabin of a Boeing 727. It marked a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling a work environment can be declared hostile or abusive because of discrimination based on sex, a critical ruling for sexual harassment cases.
Today, 35 years later, powerful technology tools like internet and social media create unparalleled reach and awareness of the fight for equity. Public and private sectors offer resources that can accelerate the full participation of women.Women have access to educational and work opportunities that were previously unimaginable. Women are getting a seat at the table, making contributions in government, science, business, education, etc. Women are able to engage as full participants in determining our collective futures.
This arc of history is inspiring and provides a basis for informing how far we have come. We feel hopeful about our future because we see persistence makes our voices heard…influencing attitudes, changing behavior and shifting culture. Reflecting on history provides a lens to see how change happens and informs us on what will ensure equity for future generations.
We all have a role to play. We must each pledge (or commit) to do better. We must reimage the social constructs of gender and race. We must challenge the traditions, hold each other accountable and lift others, even when they are not in the room. We must believe that everyone is valuable, no matter their gender, race or social economic position. If people feel whole, families thrive and in turn our neighborhoods flourish.
Women still remain underrepresented in decision-making processes in the public and private sectors. We are underrepresented in state capitals, courtrooms, and village councils; we are outnumbered in board rooms, newsrooms trade associations and the tech sector. We need women at all places decisions are made.
You have to see it to be it. That is why NOW is the time to lean into this work of advancing equity for women. We are committed to addressing issues at their core. We are enhancing pathways for women to be our inspiration. We celebrate successful women who are the game changes and serve as role models.
Join us to mark the milestone. Hear from Doris Heiser, a Founding Mother and long-time donor. Hear from Marilka Vélez Board Chair, about her goals for the next two years. Hear from representatives of our Grant Partners: Benedict Center and LOTUS Legal Clinic. Hear from a HER Scholar who now is involved with the HER Scholarship Committee.
Be in community with others that support shifting attitudes, behaviors, and culture so women and girls our community can be realize their full potential and everyone thrives. See you soon!