Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS remotely take control of car • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 25 Jul 2015 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump's comment on student loans sparks debate • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 25 Jul 2015 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresident Veto bill to strip funding to sanctuary cities • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 25 Jul 2015 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWH overtime rules push • Cavuto Coast-To-Coast SchaefferMon, 20 Jul 2015 14:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCars funded by taxpayers for elected officials • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 11 Jul 2015 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJeb Bush: "Work longer hours" • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 11 Jul 2015 10:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew docs on admin targeting political enemies • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 11 Jul 2015 10:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumUS Navy Triples Maternity Leave, Air Force Looks to Follow Suit<p> The US Navy made schedules a lot more flexible for working mothers last week, announcing they are <a href="">tripling</a> their maternity leave.</p> <blockquote> <p> On July 2, Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, announced that, effective immediately, women serving in the Navy and Marine Corps will receive 18 weeks of maternity leave -- tripling the previous policy which allowed for six weeks.</p> </blockquote> <p> A job in the military, it goes without saying,&nbsp;requires parents to be away from their family for long periods&nbsp;&ndash;deployments can often last months. Mabus hopes the new leave&nbsp;policy will provide moms some much needed quality time with their newborns.</p> <blockquote> <p> &quot;We have incredibly talented women who want to serve, and they also want to be mothers and have the time to fulfill that important role the right way,&quot; Mabus added. &quot;Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our country. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> The Air Force, apparently liking what they saw, is <a href="">considering</a> expanding their own maternity leave programs. A more lenient maternity policy would follow their decision to double the deployment deferment for new mothers from six months to a year, according to <em>Air Force Times</em>.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, applauded the Navy&rsquo;s decision, yet warned that such a policy may not be right for every business in the country.</span></strong></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;IWF has done extensive research into what women want in the workplace, and we&#39;ve learned that women have very different wants and needs. For instance, mothers are generally flexibility maximizers while non-mothers are income maximizers. Some women place a high value on benefit packages, while many others heavily weigh company culture such as bonus structures and employee tenure. It sounds like the Navy is making the right decision for their goals and needs, but we ought to be careful not to assume this is the best approach for all businesses. Lawmakers need to allow employers and employees the freedom and flexibility to create work environments that suit their needs.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p> For more information on the IWF report Schaeffer referred to, go <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p> The Navy and Air Force&rsquo;s new efforts on behalf of mothers deserve to be celebrated, yet Schaeffer is right in that it needs to be up to individual companies to decide how to implement maternity leave. Legislators who have tried to <a href="">usher in</a> national maternity policies fail to foresee how much damage it could do to businesses who are ill prepared to accept the costs of&nbsp;such mandated coverage. Last year, <em>The Hill</em> went so far to claim such a law could become an &ldquo;<a href="">engine of unemployment</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p> Moms in the military, however, deserve special consideration, for the reasons mentioned above. Bravo to the Navy and Air Force for acknowledging these working mothers&#39; needs, for serving one&#39;s family is just as important as serving one&#39;s&nbsp;country.</p> SchaefferSat, 11 Jul 2015 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHillary to share in $60 MILLION cash bonanza from pro-abortion campaigners as they launch massive effort to turn Washington female and pro-choice<p> Hillary Clinton has a secret fundraising weapon in the <a href=""><strong>2016 election for president</strong></a> that could significantly boost her numbers, and it&#39;s not her husband, former president Bill Clinton.</p> <p> It&#39;s the 3 million women affiliated with progressive activist organization, EMILY&#39;s List, which has grown its membership by five times since Clinton&#39;s 2008 run and doubled its donors.</p> <p> Founded on premise of protecting abortion rights, EMILY&#39;s List will only support female candidates who are pro-choice.&nbsp;</p> <p> It has already endorsed Clinton for the White House, as she&#39;s the only woman running who backs abortion, and is on track to raise more than $60 million this election cycle for her and other female candidates running for office from across the country.</p> <p> &#39;Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person to be the Democratic nominee, and she just happens to be a woman,&#39; said Marcy Stech, EMILY&#39;s List Communications Director.&nbsp;</p> <p> Stech said Clinton has a record &#39;second to none&#39; of championing causes that benefit women and families.</p> <p> &#39;It&#39;s clear that the country&#39;s ready for it. It&#39;s the right time, and she&#39;s the right candidate,&#39; she said.</p> <p> The more than $60 million that EMILY&#39;s List plans to raise for the upcoming cycle comes through its independent expenditures, including its Madame President project, political action committee and bundling for chosen female candidates.</p> <p> In 2012 it raised more than $52 million. It increased that amount to more than $60 million in 2014. Now, with Clinton expected to be at the top of the Democratic ticket, EMILY&#39;s List is energizing and broadening its base of donors &ndash; and female candidates - like never before.</p> <p> Call it the &#39;Hillary effect,&#39; if you will.</p> <p> EMILY&#39;s List is hesitant to slap that label on its latest round of recruits because it&#39;s been grooming many of the female candidates it&#39;s supporting this cycle for years now.&nbsp;But it admits that Clinton&#39;s presumptive nomination for president has inspired its members to seek elected office, as well.</p> <p> &#39;Our members and candidates are excited about Hillary,&#39; Stech said, in no small part because Clinton is talking about the issues their candidates &#39;care so deeply about, and they can often speak from their own personal experience of balancing family, work and economic challenges.&#39;</p> <p> Clinton has made traditional women&#39;s issues such as paycheck fairness, paid sick leave and access to preventative health measures, in addition to continued health insurance coverage of birth control under Obamacare, central themes of her campaign.</p> <p> EMILY&#39;s List didn&#39;t set out to fight for those issues when founder Ellen Malcolm, an alumnae of Jimmy Carter&#39;s administration and the multi-partisan National Women&#39;s Political Caucus, and two dozen like-minded women planted the organization&#39;s first seeds in 1985.</p> <p> Back then, it was focused solely on funding pro-choice women&#39;s bids for elected office. Malcolm&#39;s theory was that &#39;Early Money Is Like Yeast&#39; (EMILY) &ndash; it makes the dough rise.</p> <p> The group&#39;s efforts were immediately validated when Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, one of their two test cases, became the first woman to win a U.S. Senate election in 1986. Mikulski will likewise hold the title as the longest serving female federal lawmaker when she retires in January of 2017.</p> <p> Malcolm, who served as a co-chair of Clinton&#39;s first presidential campaign in 2007, stepped back from day-to-day operations at EMILY&#39;s List in 2010 after 25 years at the helm, and Democratic strategist Stephanie Schriock was brought in to oversee the influential women&#39;s group.</p> <p> EMILY&#39;s List has expanded its messaging in recent years beyond the cause of abortion, made legal by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case in 1973, to encompass other issues of importance to women.</p> <p> &#39;Republicans come up with creative new ways to restrict opportunity for women and we need to hold them accountable,&#39; Stech said.</p> <p> It&#39;s founding principle remains the same, however. Women who are against access to abortion, regardless of their overarching political beliefs, don&#39;t qualify for the platinum package.</p> <p> Cases in point: ex-Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Both voted to restrict access to healthcare for women and lost EMILY&#39;s List support as a result.&nbsp;</p> <p> Both lost their seats in GOP wave elections when the map was difficult for Democrats. Lincoln was ousted in 2010, and Landieu lost her re-election bid in 2014.</p> <p> Next year, it&#39;s Republicans who will be on the defensive as they fend off challenges to 24 of the 54 seats they hold in the U.S. Senate.</p> <p> EMILY&#39;s List, so far, has put up a candidate in just one of those races - Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a current Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It&#39;s three other recruits are competing for seats currently held by retiring Democrats.</p> <p> Donna Edwards, another Member of the House, is looking to replace Mikulski while Kamala Harris of California and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, both of whom have served as the attorneys general of their home states, are respectively vying for Dianne Feinstein and Harry Reid&#39;s soon-to-be vacant offices.</p> <p> While it&#39;s primarily the job of the various committees directly connected to the Democratic Party to herd the blue team&#39;s candidates to victory in 2016, Stech said EMILY&#39;s List has a mutual interest in seeing candidates who share Clinton&#39;s ideology get elected.</p> <p> Without women, Democrats lose. And if Democrats lose the House and Senate to Republicans again, Clinton won&#39;t be able to put into effect much of her agenda should she make it to the White House, anyway, Stech said.</p> <p> But unlike the party committees &ndash; and Republican and conservative women&#39;s groups that have comparable missions &ndash; &nbsp;EMILY&#39;s List is willing to come to blows with candidates who share its values if they get in the way of its female recruits.</p> <p> Party officials will sometimes ask respected community members to seek elected office and will offer financial support to candidates who meet certain criteria, but they do not otherwise endorse in primary elections.</p> <p> Various women&#39;s groups on the right end of the political spectrum have followed the lead set by the party committees and established themselves as non-profits, which legally prohibits them from supporting candidates or their affiliated committees. They instead focus on issue advocacy.</p> <p> That has the effect this election cycle of keeping them from outright endorsing the only Republican female presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina.</p> <p> One, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that, like EMILY&#39;s List, focuses on the politics of abortion, could legally endorse Fiorina if it wanted to. Yet it has opted to lend its support to all of the GOP presidential candidates who support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of their gender or prospects of being elected.</p> <p> Mallory Quigley, SBA List&#39;s Communications Director, told in a statement, &#39;It is no surprise EMILY&#39;s List is getting behind Hillary Clinton &ndash; they share the same extreme position of supporting abortion on demand, all the way up until the moment of birth, for any reason, at taxpayer&#39;s expense.&#39;</p> <p> &#39;For our part, Susan B. Anthony List is completely focused on electing a pro-life president who will advocate for and sign into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,&#39; she said. &#39;We are praising all of the thirteen likely and declared candidates have stated their support for this bill and encouraging them to go on offense on this issue. We plan to make this the defining abortion issue of the 2016 general election.&#39;</p> <p> Just two declared and one expected Republican presidential candidate out of a field of 16 &ndash; Donald Trump, former New York Governor George Pataki and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who will make official his bid at the end of this month &ndash; have declined to state their positions on the issue.</p> <p> The rest share SBA&#39;s beliefs and will therefore share it&#39;s blessing to run - all 13 of them.</p> <p> Concerned Women for America, a group that&#39;s stated mission is &#39;to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens&#39; and counts among its core principles &#39;the sanctity of life,&#39; told that it believes that a &#39;candidate must be chosen on merit.&#39;</p> <p> &#39;While we look forward eagerly to the first women president, we cannot support a candidate purely based on gender,&#39; Penny Nance, CEO and President of CWA, said. &#39;We very much like Carly Fiorina, but have not endorsed a candidate.&#39;</p> <p> She added, &#39;Incidentally, I think Carly Fiorina would agree. She expects to win the voters support based on her ability to perform. May the best man or woman win.&#39;&nbsp;</p> <p> EMILY&#39;s List&#39;s Stech said her group&#39;s willingness to get involved in primaries are its ingredients to success. That it endorses female candidates early in the process is what has made it more effective than women&#39;s groups on the other side of the aisle, she said.</p> <p> &#39;You can&#39;t just sit on the sidelines and hope that women make it through,&#39; she said, stressing that her organization considers a multitude of factors when deciding which female politicians to back, the most important of which is that they are the best candidates for the jobs they are seeking and because they have the right perspective.</p> <p> It&#39;s a method that even conservatives will admit has cemented the organization&#39;s status as a political powerhouse.</p> <p> Mindy Finn, the principal at Empowered Women, a new group on the right, and a senior adviser to the Republican National Committee, said &#39;there&#39;s no question that having a motivated base of women is really powerful.&#39;</p> <p> &#39;There has been some efforts that have grown in the last couple years&#39; to build a women&#39;s movement on the right that is as influential as EMILY&#39;s List, she said, &#39;but there&#39;s still a lot of work to be done.&#39;</p> <p> Other conservative, women&#39;s groups operating outside the party apparatus have focused their efforts on persuading women to vote for Republicans rather than recruiting them and then financially supporting their runs for office.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, will spend the 2016 election cycle talking &#39;to women about how a smaller, less intrusive government provides women and their families with the freedom to make the choices that make the most sense for them -- whether in education, healthcare, the workplace, or at home.&#39;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&#39;Our research shows that when we give women the facts they recognize that more one-size-fits all solutions are not the answer,&#39; said Sabrina Schaeffer,&nbsp;executive director of IWF.&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Schaeffer said, &#39;It&#39;s exciting to see a woman with the right policies working to reach the White House&#39; and that &#39;Fiorina&#39;s business experience, commitment to individual liberty and free market policies, and confidence in all Americans is a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton&#39;s identity politics and her stale, top-down government solutions.&#39;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">But she, like, the president of CWA, said Fiorina&#39;s gender shouldn&#39;t be the reason conservatives support her for president.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&#39;Hopefully having her in the race means that we can get past gender politics and look at policies that actually help women and their families so that we can ensure a stronger economy and more plentiful job opportunities for all,&#39; Schaeffer said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Empowered Women is seeking to tap into the same vein as IWF but differs in that its goal is to create a nationwide network of Republican women who are loosely affiliated with the group and speak to the media under its banner from a perspective the organization hopes will attract women who consider themselves independent to the Republican Party.</p> <p> Only when the group has a reliable base of women voters, said EW&#39;s Finn, can the GOP move on to the &#39;next step which is wanting to actually invest through their pocketbook and their contribution.&#39;</p> <p> She said the grassroots group is &#39;taking a step back and doing a lot of this initial phase, because we believe that there&#39;s an need for creative new ideas on those issues, but also even to communicate how existing conservative economics and policy can achieve those ends as opposed&#39; to federal mandates.&#39;&nbsp;</p> <p> Already, the group has a 200-strong membership in D.C. It&#39;s still pre-launch in New York City but expects that chapter it to be equally large when it gets in full swing later this month.</p> <p> EMILY&#39;s List&#39;s Stech said that even if conservative groups threw their support behind Fiorina, who&#39;s averaging two percent in the polls, she&#39;d have a difficult time gaining traction in 2016.</p> <p> The former Hewlett Packard executive has made the case that she would be the best candidate to face Clinton because she&#39;s a woman, too. Her nomination to the Republican Party ticket would help erase the GOP&#39;s gender gap, she says.</p> <p> Fiorina frequently spends the better part of her speeches talking about misogyny and Hillary Clinton.</p> <p> Stech said a plan like Fiorina&#39;s is fundamentally flawed because &#39;at the end of the day her strategy is to tear down, and people want to know what you&#39;re going to do.&#39;</p> <p> &#39;Women trying to tear down other women,&#39; she said, &#39;isn&#39;t a winning campaign strategy.&#39;</p> SchaefferFri, 10 Jul 2015 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen in Hollywood making strides, still lag behind men<p> LOS ANGELES &ndash; &nbsp;Despite its reputation as a progressive industry, the entertainment business continues to face strong condemnation for its treatment of women.</p> <p> Last week former Disney CEO Michael Eisner sparked outrage after he told the Aspen Ideas Festival audience that &ldquo;in the history of the motion-picture business, the number of beautiful, really beautiful women &ndash; a Lucille Ball &ndash; that are funny, is impossible to find.&rdquo; The polarizing remarks came on the heels of the widespread Sony email hack late last year, which also exposed sexist views toward women within the upper executive ranks of Hollywood studios.</p> <p> In one leaked email obtained by the Daily Beast, famed &ldquo;Newsroom&rdquo; creator Aaron Sorkin reportedly suggested that male film roles have a greater &ldquo;degree of difficulty&rdquo; than female ones, while big stars such as Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams received smaller paychecks than their male co-stars in &ldquo;American Hustle.&rdquo; And of the seventeen Sony executives earning at least $1 million per year, just one was a female.</p> <p> So has Hollywood really moved forward from its Golden era patriarchal studio system? Or is it stuck in an old-fashioned boys club where the men make bank and women are afterthoughts?</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Hollywood continues to be a highly imperfect industry in which sexism &ndash; and the over-sexualization of girls and women &ndash; is still very much present. That being said, it seems insane to think that nothing has changed in more than half a century,&rdquo; Sabrina Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum told FOX411. &ldquo;Hollywood will always be an image-conscious industry, and there is probably little getting around that. Audiences like good-looking people. But the more women soar to the top and demonstrate their talent, the less weight we will place on women&rsquo;s appearances.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> But simply snagging those opportunities seems to remain the hard part. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women in entertainment and media make on average 15 percent less than their male counterparts, while the women direct just 4-8 percent percent of the movies put out by major studiosl. A 2014 Women&rsquo;s Media Center study concluded that in television only 26 percent of show creators, 38 percent of producers, 11 percent of directors, and 30 percent of writers are women.</p> <p> Storylines continue to be lambasted in the media too, with the likes of &ldquo;Jurassic Park&rdquo; being criticized for sexist content and undertones. Two months ago, sexism concerns even prompted the American Civil Liberties Union asked state and federal agencies to investigate the hiring customs of Hollywood agencies, networks and studios.</p> <p> On that note, perhaps one thing that has changed over the past few years is the amount of attention the issue is now receiving and the number of stars speaking out. The issue generated a great deal of attention at this year&rsquo;s Academy Awards, with winner Patricia Arquette devoting much of her acceptance speech to urging American taxpayers to join the fray in pushing for &ldquo;wage equality&rdquo; and &ldquo;equal rights for women in the United States of America,&rdquo; while the likes of Reese Witherspoon pushing the &ldquo;Ask Us More&rdquo; campaign in the quest for women to be interviewed in greater depth than just questions about what they are wearing.</p> <p> Jennifer Aniston recently claimed that &ldquo;we&rsquo;re very much a sexist society,&rdquo; and Oscar-winner Charlize Theron reportedly refused to star in 2012&rsquo;s &ldquo;Snow White and Huntsman&rdquo; unless her paycheck equaled that of her non-Oscar-winning co-star Chris Hemsworth. Earlier this year Zoe Saldana took aim at Hollywood studios for spending big bucks &ldquo;perking up male superstars in a movie&rdquo; with contracts laden with private jets and penthouses, yet declining to include financial compensation for nannies in actress contracts.</p> <p> &ldquo;Years ago, they likely would have feared never getting hired again for speaking their minds about this issue,&rdquo; said Glenn Selig, President &amp; CEO of Selig Multimedia, adding that the extra attention may only bring about short-term changes. &ldquo;But we all know the focus will move to something else. Once the heat is off, it will likely be business as usual again.&rdquo;</p> <p> Los Angeles-based film director Gabriela Tagliavini concurred that the business has a long way to go when it comes to giving females both behind and in front of the camera equal footing &ndash; noting that the biggest challenge in her field stems not from knowing how to direct, but getting a foot in the door.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re just going to have to show we can make the money. I make commercial movies for that very reason,&rdquo; Tagliavini added. &ldquo;Unfortunately, female directors have to do more to prove themselves, but I&rsquo;m up for the challenge.&rdquo;</p> SchaefferWed, 8 Jul 2015 15:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAetna CEO: Gov is now biggest customer • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 27 Jun 2015 11:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOPM director grilled on data breach • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 27 Jun 2015 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTerror in Tunisia, Kuwait, and France • Forbes on Fox SchaefferSat, 27 Jun 2015 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould gender be sole reason women are put on currency? • Stossel SchaefferThu, 25 Jun 2015 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum2 trends driving today’s women’s movement: Men and money<p> It&rsquo;s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the women&rsquo;s movement started to come out of its recent doldrums. For some time spanning a decade or so, roughly from the late 1990s to the late 2010s, a good number of women&rsquo;s groups seemed fragmented and strapped for new ideas, funds and supporters. At the same time, rather than pick up the torch, young women walked away from the word &ldquo;feminist&rdquo; in droves.</p> <p> &ldquo;The movement became weighty and obsolete,&rdquo; a Washington activist and executive who asked not to be named told me recently. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, a fierce advocate, shared a similar concern, saying, &ldquo;I am worried and depressed that the women&rsquo;s movement is dead. I think those of us who are in the trenches recognize we&rsquo;re in a tough place.&rsquo;&rsquo;</p> <p> But now, emerging from that tough place, leading organizations, mentors and advisors are shaking off &ldquo;old&rdquo; thinking and seeking pragmatic ways to re-energize the movement. No doubt Sheryl Sandberg&rsquo;s controversial 2013 book <em>Lean In</em>, urging women to step up to fight for their career goals and challenging men to contribute to a more equitable society, was a jolt to the system. Sandberg, who at 45 is the billionaire chief operating officer at Facebook, went on tour and leveraged her book&rsquo;s success into a nonprofit movement to empower women and break down gender stereotypes.</p> <p> In recent conversations with leading activists, it&rsquo;s clear that Sandberg, whose husband, Dave Goldberg, <a href="">died unexpectedly last month</a>, fueled two trends now driving the movement: the need for men to advance women in the workplace and share the burden of domestic responsibilities like childcare, and the importance of economic factors in women&rsquo;s progress.</p> <p> Alyse Nelson, the president and CEO of the Washington-based Vital Voices Global Partnership, told me, &ldquo;Most people have woken up to the fact that real progress isn&rsquo;t lopsided &mdash; men and women have to be equal parts of the equation.&rdquo;</p> <p> That may seem to contradict the posture of independence taken by the embattled women of the mid-to-late 20th century. But the message has evolved with the generations. Maz Kessler, founder of the New York-based Catapult, a crowd-funding company for U.S. and global women&rsquo;s projects, says this is a new phase. &ldquo;The gender justice movement,&rdquo; as she calls it, &ldquo;cannot survive without men participating.&rdquo;</p> <p> When Deborah Gillis, a 50-year-old Canadian, became president and chief executive of New York-based Catalyst last year she worried that, despite successes, her research company was not breaking down enough barriers for women. Like many others, she figured that men, who held all the cards, were needed inside the movement, not on the sidelines.</p> <p> &ldquo;We had to find a &lsquo;backdoor strategy&rsquo; to get them engaged,&rdquo; she told me in an interview at a Chelsea restaurant.</p> <p> With that in mind, Catalyst launched a men-only training program last summer, aimed at managers and executives in corporations like Dell and Walmart. So far, at least 120 supervisors have gone through the six-month training. More groups have enrolled for fall and spring 2016 sessions, paying fees Catalyst declines to reveal. Called Men Advocating Real Change, the program resembles sensitivity programs, challenging men to acknowledge sexist and racist biases and behavior and helping them to understand female dynamics in the workplace. Presumably this intensive re-education will enlighten male managers who will, in turn, promote and support women. And, the economic logic goes, the talent, diligence and insights those women bring to the table will make those companies more profitable.</p> <p> &ldquo;We are making a shift from raising questions to making change, from problems to solutions,&rsquo;&rsquo; Gillis said. &ldquo;When men see other men championing women, other men are encouraged. There&rsquo;s a ripple effect.&rdquo;</p> <p> Economic equality goes hand in hand with all that, though in the past it often took a back seat to more emotional and personal issues like abortion. But on the heels of the recession and inaction in Congress, pocketbook issues including equal pay and paid leave are now being pushed to the forefront in political conversations. Hillary Clinton is making paid leave a centerpiece of her presidential campaign and Senator Gillibrand has introduced a bill that includes paid leave and universal childcare, measures that she says would especially benefit working women and single mothers.</p> <p> &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s issues are finally being understood as economic issues &mdash; which is long overdue,&rsquo;&rsquo; says Jess McIntosh, vice president of communications at Emily&rsquo;s List, the country&rsquo;s top fundraiser for Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights.</p> <p> &ldquo;Gender discrimination in pay, the ability to care for a sick kid without losing your job &mdash; these are critical issues for women, but also critical issues for the economy as a whole,&rsquo;&rsquo; McIntosh says. While abortion rights remain a litmus test for Emily&rsquo;s List, the bread-and-butter issues are getting top billing these days.</p> <p> Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily&rsquo;s List, has made it clear that Emily&rsquo;s List wants what female voters want &mdash; equal pay, paid sick leave, minimum-wage increase.</p> <p> A 41-year-old former Montana political operative, Schriock ushered Emily&rsquo;s List into the 21st century when she succeeded Ellen Malcolm, founder of the 30-year-old organization, in 2010. During her five-year tenure, Emily&rsquo;s List has reached three million members and raised more than $60 million in donations in 2014, up from 500,000 members and $38 million.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">On the other side of the political spectrum, Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of the conservative Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a Washington-based research group with an economic focus, applauds the women&rsquo;s movement&rsquo;s emphasis on economic issues. She says the move is smart and timely and that she fears it will catch conservatives &ldquo;flat-footed.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Conservatives are stuck on wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage, she told me. &ldquo;Those issues are outdated. We should be ready to talk about paid leave, those issues that affect women, especially single women. Republicans need to be able to offer alternative ideas. They need to understand the issues. They need to engage.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> On a world scale, the universal watchdog U.N. Women is also turning up the volume on economic issues. &ldquo;Create more and better jobs for women&rdquo; is the number one mandate on the Top 10 List of the new U.N. Women Progress Report of the World&rsquo;s Women.</p> <p> Taking into account major achievements in the 20 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 &mdash; like better education for women and girl &mdash; the new report concludes that those changes, though important, have not yet brought about sufficient forward economic movement for women.</p> <p> &ldquo;We have the focus on economic problems,&rdquo; Shahra Razavi, chief of research and data at U.N. Women, said in an interview at headquarters in New York. Besides creating jobs, goals include closing gender pay gaps and strengthening income security. Razavi made clear that economic and social problems are linked&nbsp;and listed the main obstacles women face: low-level occupations, low status and low wages. This consigns millions of women in developing countries to poverty and powerlessness, but there are also millions of American women relegated to low-level, low-paying jobs.</p> <p> Global and national organizations are looking at innovative and bold strategies. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing differences in how people and organizations approach women&rsquo;s advancement,&rdquo; Nelson of Vital Voices said last week by email. &ldquo;Some think human rights will follow from economic freedom, some think it&rsquo;s the other way around. What we&rsquo;ve learned in nearly 20 years of working on these issues is that women leaders know their communities better than anyone and they&rsquo;re putting sustainable solutions in place every day.&rdquo;</p> <p> Vital Voices is now taking a targeted approach. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve realized that we can have the most impact by making long-term, tailored investments in individual women leaders. We search the world for women leaders who have a daring vision &hellip; Then we partner with them to make their vision a reality. I think this approach is what&rsquo;s missing most today; we need to focus on what&rsquo;s working, we need to invest in women leaders who are moving their societies forward.&rdquo;</p> <p> Maz Kessler at Catapult, which funnels targeted donations to some 150 projects from Texas to the Philippines, sees signs that the women&rsquo;s movement is coming back. &ldquo;The movement has been very weak, fragmented, but it is gathering strength again,&rdquo; she said.</p> SchaefferThu, 25 Jun 2015 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum