What Chicago's first female African-American mayor can do for girls, women March 29 2019 Sunny Fischer Chicago Tribune Chicago will make history next week with the election of the city’s first African-American woman as mayor. After the celebration ends, either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle will begin the work of building a Chicago that works for all of us. At the Chicago Foundation for Women, we know that when you invest in women and girls, whole communities and our entire region are made stronger, safer, healthier and more prosperous. In setting her agenda, we encourage the new mayor to utilize a gender lens to address the implications of any policy on women and girls of every race and ethnicity, gender expression, citizenship status, faith and ability level. And we urge her to act decisively on these priorities for women and girls: 1. Work with City Clerk Anna Valencia on the implementation of Chicago’s New Deal for All Women and Girls, recommendations developed by a working group of nonprofit, philanthropic and civic leaders and girls from across the city. The recommendations include making Chicago Public Schools a model for comprehensive health and sexual education; improving sexual assault evidence collection practices; supporting fair and predictable scheduling; and a citywide Girls Summit. 2. The city can create more good-paying opportunities for tradeswomen by increasing its commitment to hiring diverse women, investing in trades education, and encouraging a commitment to hiring diverse women for new development projects and city contracts. Chicago Women in Trades estimates Chicago will see $40 billion in new construction projects in the near future. The trades offer a growing path to a middle-class income and benefits without a college degree, but women hold only 3 percent of Illinois’ roughly 220,000 construction jobs. 3. Reducing violence in our communities must be a top priority, and this includes the violence facing women and girls. According to the Chicago Police Department, there are 1,673 reported incidents of domestic violence per 100,000 women in Chicago. The Department of Justice estimates that this accounts for just over half of the true number of incidents. This seemingly private violence is often a precursor to more public violence. In addition to better preparing officers to respond to violence against women in all forms, from interpersonal to human trafficking, we must invest in supports that help survivors achieve and maintain safety and security. A new report on gender and poverty from the Heartland Alliance found that half of survivors seeking services in Chicago were not employed and 44 percent had monthly incomes below $500. Economic security is critical to a survivor’s ability to achieve safety. Over 90 percent of women experiencing homelessness are survivors of abuse. Increased investment in short- and long-term housing, financial supports and job training, as well as trauma-informed mental health services can help survivors heal and rebuild their lives after an abusive relationship. 4. Make Chicago the best place for women to work by instituting a universal minimum wage, guaranteeing fair scheduling and increasing access to affordable child care. According to CFW grantee Women Employed, 59 percent of minimum wage workers are women. Chicago has made strides by improving access to paid sick leave for working parents, but women are disproportionately among workers earning below a living wage. Many are tipped workers legally paid a sub-minimum wage of $6.25, relying on tips to make up the difference. In addition to economic insecurity, this leaves women vulnerable to sexual harassment — one explanation for why the restaurant industry reports sexual harassment at rates five times higher than the general workforce. 5. Unpredictable and unstable work schedules make it difficult — if not impossible — for working mothers to pay the bills, to schedule child care, classes or a second job, or to care for themselves and their family. We urge the next mayor and City Council to support the Fair Workweek Ordinance to ensure employees are given sufficient notice of their work schedule and protections against the unexpected loss of scheduled hours and income. We must increase the supply of affordable child care across the city, for the nearly 1 in 3 households in Chicago headed by women and for families in child care deserts without a single licensed child care provider. Expanding early childhood education and preschool would provide a public option for working families. A generation of Chicago’s girls will come of age in a city led by an African-American woman. This must go beyond the symbolic to a specific commitment to improving the lives of women and girls, and building a safe, just and healthy Chicago for all. Chicago’s community of women, girls and partners stand ready to work with the next mayor to make Chicago the best place in the country for women and girls. Read original article here.