“I grew up surrounded by songs of rebellion, protest, peace, and justice. I watched Princess Leia stand up to Darth Vader, Wonder Woman defeat the bad guys with her lasso of truth, Jessica Fletcher fearlessly take on sexists and murderers. The ringwraith who couldn’t be defeated by any man was brought down by a woman. Is it any wonder that I grew up to believe I could save the world?!
Well, I did believe that then and I still believe it now. Though along the way I realized that you can’t save the world by yourself...”
~ Kathy Kilrain del Rio, Director of Program and Development at Maine Women’s Policy Center upon accepting the Ruth L. Lockhart Feminist Activist Award from the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center
So, if you can’t do it by yourself, what do you do? If you’re 2015 grantee Maine Women’s Policy Center (MWPC), you create partnerships! Of all the New England States, Maine has the highest number of women living in poverty¹, the highest number of women working part-time², and the highest number of women earning less than $20,000/year³. In looking at these statistics, MWPC determined that counteracting these trends would require highlighting economic security as an issue and proposing solutions and building a statewide network of women working together locally on their own behalf.
To execute this strategy, MWPC provided trainings in partnership with a number of non-profits working with Maine women and girls. As a trusted ally to the immigrant community, MWPC staff contributed to the Empower the Immigrant Woman conference held in southern Maine in May. The inaugural conference brought together over 200 immigrant women who participated in panels addressing workplace readiness and entrepreneurship along with key members of other local organizations that provide resources, services, and advocacy.
Working with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England staff and supporters about issues of reproductive justice, MWPC helped them to think about abortion rights through a much larger lens: one that is inclusive of issues that communities and/or women of color and LGBTQ communities and parents of LGBTQ children face, specifically, basic safety for their children should they choose to have them.
Along the way, they partnered with Hardy Girls Healthy Women to provide advocacy trainings at the Girls Rock events in both Waterville and Portland. When the League of Women Voters organized Advocacy 101 training, they turned to MWPC to participate on their panels.
When it comes to changing the world, the MWPC has recognized that the most powerful impact comes from bringing organizations together, sharing strengths, improving skills, and empowering the inner superhero in every group that is working to improve the lives of Maine girls and women. The 2015 grant from the Maine Women’s Fund supported these collaborative efforts and other strategies to advance social change by drawing the attention of the media, public and political leaders to the need to improve women’s economic security.
¹1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 U.S. Census data. 2012 American Community Survey data, IPUMS, cited in Kristin E. Smith (2014), Women’s Economic Security in New England: Challenges and Opportunities.
²2012 American Community Survey data, IPUMS, cited in Kristin E. Smith (2014), Women’s Economic Security in New England: Challenges and Opportunities.
³2012 American Community Survey data, IPUMS, cited in Kristin E. Smith (2014), Women’s Economic Security in New England: Challenges and Opportunities.
Posted 08.09.2016 under News and Resources