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May 2012 Edition

This Mother's Day, send a gift with an important message about how much you value the women and girls in your life.

Please make a gift to Chicago Foundation for Women today and we'll send your mom a beautiful, personalized card to make sure she knows you're thinking of her on Mother's Day and every day.

Click here to honor someone special in your life. Give a gift that gives back.

By K. Sujata, CFW's President/CEO

Infographic provided by the Center for American Progress

Infographic provided by
the Center for American Progress

Here at CFW, we are getting ready for Mother’s Day. As we are hard at work making brunch reservations, drafting poetic praise and placing floral orders, we’d like to take a moment to discuss what many Chicago moms truly need this May: economic security. 

There are approximately 612,607 female-headed households in Illinois and 28.5 percent or 174,593 are living well-below the poverty line. A recent report commissioned by CFW and conducted by Voices for Illinois Children informs us the situation is worsening. Unemployment rates for single moms increased from 9 percent in 2007 to 14 percent in 2009. And, for the lucky women who are employed, they tend to work in low-paying jobs with few or no benefits, such as child care providers and hospitality services.

Women have made some advancement. Nearly 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy passed the Equal Pay Act which aimed to end gender wage disparities. At that time, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man made. In 2010, women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, a 23% gap. For women of color, the numbers are worse: African-American women earned 64 cents and Latina women earned 48 cents to every dollar a white man received. At this pace, we will achieve pay equity in the year 2101.

This progress is too slow for my liking, how about you?

Contrary to what some might suggest, the gender wage gap occurs not because women chose to work less, and certainly not because women don’t care about money as much as men. It occurs because women are hired at a lower rate and receive smaller pay increases once a job is secured.  

So the first thing Mom really wants this May is equitable pay. If the wage disparities were eliminated, a working woman in Illinois would have enough money for approximately:

  • 108 more weeks of food (2.1 years’ worth);
  • Seven more months of mortgage and utilities payments;
  • 14 more months of rent;
  • 36 more months of family health insurance premiums (three years’ worth);
  • 3,148 additional gallons of gas.

Then, Mom asks we provide paid sick leave.

Infographic provided by the Progress States Network
Image provided by the 
Progressive States Network

When her child gets sick, Mom needs to take off to care for her child and for far too many women, this decision comes with a heavy burden. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, “Nearly four in ten private-sector workers—and 81% of low-wage workers —don’t have a single paid sick day to recover from common, short-term illnesses.” In Illinois, more than 2.1 million Illinois workers — about 45 percent of the state’s private-sector workforce — are not able to take a paid sick day when they are ill. In response, CFW grantee, Women Employed, is leading the Illinois Paid Leave Coalition, which includes dozens of advocacy groups from across the state that are raising public knowledge about paid sick days and campaigning for this new workplace model. The Coalition believes when states authorize paid sick days, this will help families receive proper medical care and aid in business productivity. If Mom is at work, she can do her job without worrying about the well-being of her family.

Finally, Mom wants better opportunities for her daughters. Young girls need to be empowered and exposed to industries where they are underrepresented, such as STEM (sciences, technology, engineering and math) and the trades. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, women with STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs. Imagine the type of health care, food and education Mom could provide for her family.

For over 100 years, Americans have used Mother’s Day to honor mothers for their love, commitment and dedication to their families. This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to truly celebrate mothers everywhere by advancing policy and programs that promote their lasting economic security and allow them, and their families, to thrive.

Planning for CFW's 27th Annual Luncheon featuring Anita Hill is well underway and tables are selling fast!  Currently, individual tickets are unavailable, but to ensure your spot, reserve your table online or contact Emily Dreke at or (312) 577-2801. View a list of sponsorship opportunities HERE.

Thank you to our generous sponsors who have already committed to the Luncheon:

Patrons ($10,000) :
Marcena W. & Norris Love

Leaders ($5,000):
Catherine and Addison Braendel
Kraft Foods, Inc.
Gail and Harry Ludewig
Laura A. Tucker
Nancy Juda
Prince Charitable Trusts
The Allstate Corporation
The Boeing Company

Friends ($2,500):
DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C.
Ellen J. Benjamin
Millicent M. Holmes
Peoples Gas

 CFW in the community
Board Member Boot Camp - Early Bird Registration Closing This Friday!   Are you interested in serving on a nonproft board but don't quite know where to start?  Join us June 2, 6, and 9 for a comprehensive training and networking experience that will leverage your skills and put you on a path to successful board service!  Through a generous grant from Crown Family Philanthropies, CFW is hosting its second Board Boot Camp. The program will include an interactive two-and-a-half day training where participants will gain skills in topics such as board roles and responsibilities, understanding nonprofit financials, running effective meetings and fundraising basics.  Apply online here.

Equal Pay Day Rally
: On April 17th in Daley Center Plaza, CFW joined over 100 women and men for the Equal Pay Rally. April 17th represents when a woman’s wages finally catch up to a man’s wages from December 31st of the previous year - 108 days later. If you missed the event, be sure to visit our Facebook page to view more pictures from the rally.

Ellen Stone Belic Institute in Danger of Closing?
Recently, Columbia College Chicago announced that the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media has been recommended to close due to budget cuts. Lesbian Leadership Council's former co-chair, Jane Saks, is the director for this Institute and past member of Chicago Foundation for Women's Board of Directors. The six year old organization has collaborated with over 100 local, national and international partners and 35 individual artists to nurture and create a wide range of artistic work that would not otherwise be seen or experienced without the Institute. CFW believes the Institute is an important resource for the city and needs to remain in Chicago. 

Celebrate spring at our events

9th Annual Breaking Barriers Awards: Since 2004, the Asian American Leadership Council has been part of an annual event to honor Asian and Asian American women in the Chicago area who are breaking barriers in their fields. On May 8th, from 6pm-8pm at Sunda New Asian restaurant, the Council will honor 10 Asian American women who are transforming the health and wellness industry. Tickets are selling quickly! To purchase your ticket, please go here.

POWER: Opening Doors for Women®: CFW is a proud sponsor of the 8th Annual POWER Chicago event. POWER: Opening Doors for Women® is an organization that promotes and develops women leaders by providing a unique educational opportunity for women within all levels of their careers. POWER: Opening Doors for Women® also provides a space for women to interact and exchange ideas with thought leaders, industry experts, and their peers alike. This year's keynote speaker is Managing Director and Head of Emerging Manager Platform at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Carla A. Harris. POWER Chicago 2012 takes places at Merchandise Mart on Thursday, May 3 starting at 3:30pm. For more information, please visit the event website.

Womenetics: On May 9th at The Metropolitan Club in Chicago, Womenetics brings together local, national and global leaders to discuss programs and laws in place to increase transparency, reduce human trafficking and end labor exploitation. Womenectics' keynote speaker will be Cook County State's Attorney, Anita Alvarez who is the first female, first Hispanic State's Attorney, and first career prosecutor ever elected to this important public safety position. The panelists for the event are President of Corporate & Government Affairs of Manpower Group, David Arkless and Director for Human Rights of Children, Loyola University Chicago, Katherine Kaufka Walts, J.D. CFW supporters will receive a 15% discount. To register, please contact Angelika Coghlan at 815-353-9425 or through email at

Formosa: A Solo Show with Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai On Thursday, May 10 from 6pm-8pm, CFW's Asian American Leadership Council will co-sponsor the Formosa performance which explores issues of beauty, global capital, and body modification as inspired by the twenty year history of Barbie doll manufacturing in Taishan, Taiwan. This special work-in-progress is a preview of poetry, multimedia, movement and spectacle: a tragicomedy written and performed by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai. The performance will take place at Experimental Station located at 6100 South Blackstone Avenue at 7 pm. The event is free. Please visit the event website to reserve your ticket.

Let’s Talk about Reproductive Justice: On Thursday, May 10 from 6pm-8pm, CFW's Asian American Leadership Council will also co-sponsor the “Let’s Talk about Reproductive Justice” community circle event with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). The discussion will focus on reproductive health, rights, and justice issues that are important to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women and girls. The event will take place at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), 226 S. Wabash, 9th Floor (between Adams & Wabash). To RSVP, contact Joy Messinger at

 Upcoming events

MAY 2012
2:  The Pre-Derby Bash with the Young Women's Leadership Council
8:  9th Annual Breaking Barriers Awards: Health and Wellness with the Asian American Leadership Council
8: "Miss Representation" Screening with the Lesbian Leadership Council
19: Mother Daughter Health Challenge with the African American Leadership Council

JUNE 2012
2, 6 and 9: Board Boot Camp

27: Save the Date: 27th Annual Luncheon at the Hilton Chicago



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