Our 2020 Agenda for Women includes bold policy priorities for inclusion of women in the workforce and highlights women as key drivers of the state’s economy.

The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham (The Women’s Fund), Alabama’s only public philanthropic foundation investing with a gender lens and providing a public policy leadership voice for women, today released its 2020 Agenda for Women. This bold and non-partisan legislative platform prioritizes public policies that strengthen women’s economic opportunity while building an inclusive workforce and economy to meet the state’s growing demands.

The Women’s Fund has a long and impressive history of investing in high-impact interventions proven to interrupt the cycle of poverty and advance women’s economic potential. Since its founding in 1996, the organization has awarded over $5 million in grants to fund innovative solutions across Central Alabama that advance and accelerate opportunities for women by increasing access to education, job training, and child care.

Equipped with rigorous, evidence-based research illuminating the conditions impacting women’s economic well-being, The Women’s Fund is strategically positioned to lead, advocate, and move the needle for women across Alabama.

“Leveraging the power of collective giving and public policy systems change under one roof is critical to shifting the paradigm for women in our state—and we are doing exactly that,” said Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President & CEO. “The Women’s Fund is tackling complex social issues and driving a conversation to ensure that women are an intentional part of every policy conversation because all Alabama women are affected by the issues we champion. Success is crucial and will require using all the tools at our disposal—philanthropy, research, and advocacy—to ensure women are included in this narrative.

At the core of our Agenda for Women are two distinct realities: state officials have set an attainment goal of an additional 500,000 skilled workers by 2025 and Alabama has the nation’s second-lowest labor participation rate. According to The Women’s Fund’s 2019 Clearing the Path report, raising the state’s labor participation rate to the national average could add an additional 80,941 women to the workforce. When considered together, these statistics highlight not only a problem but a solution that centers women as a key driver of their family’s economic success while helping the state meet its workforce goals.

The Women’s Funds 2020 Agenda for Women proposes a smart and holistic set of policy priorities that aims to dismantle the barriers preventing women from entering, succeeding, and remaining in the workforce. Priorities include:

  • Build a Gender Inclusive Workforce & Economy
    We advocate for public investment and scaling of proven post-secondary models, created and incubated by The Women’s Fund and community colleges in the Greater Birmingham area, which include training and critical wraparound supports that propel more women into in-demand jobs, including health care, manufacturing, and IT. We advocate for equitable wages because the wage gap in Alabama means women and their families have less money to save, invest for the future, and spend on local goods and services. We will also actively pursue public policy reform that makes quality child care more affordable and accessible to ensure women are not forced to choose between being a good parent or a good employee.
  • Invest in Maternal Health, Expand Affordable Health Care
    The health of mothers and infants are a clear indicator of how social and economic systems are thriving. Alabama ranks third highest in the country in maternal death rates—an unacceptable and disturbing statistic. We support full funding of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) so that we can change this reality for Alabama mothers. Additionally, we support public policy provisions for reasonable accommodations for workers throughout their pregnancy, childbirth, or other pregnancy-related medical conditions, a critical step towards reducing poor health outcomes for both mothers and their children. Finally, expansion of Medicaid would provide health insurance for an additional 152,000 Alabama women leading to better health outcomes for women and thereby better health outcomes for their children.

“Workforce issues seem to dominate every conversation from Muscle Shoals to Birmingham to Mobile and are critical to the future prosperity of our state,” explained Bridgeforth. “The state cannot maximize its economic growth without addressing the barriers that are unique to women. Alabama has a great opportunity to get this right. Our Agenda for Women lays out common-sense priorities and I am confident that our elected leaders are up to the task of fighting for 52% of our population—women.”

In addition to pursuing these priorities, The Women’s Fund will also actively monitor and intervene on non-priority issues that significantly impact the economic security of women.

The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham encourages state and local decision-makers, employers, and voters to support the smart solutions proposed in our 2020 Agenda for Women in order to establish and strengthen economic opportunities for women and their families across Alabama.

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Make your voice heard!

To learn more about our 2020 Agenda for Women, connect with lawmakers, and make your voice heard on issues that matter to you, join us at Capitol Heels, our second annual legislative day.

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