Thirty leaders from foundations across the U.S. gathered at The White House Friday for a daylong forum on "Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color." The forum focused on issues that plague women and girls of color and highlighted the launch of "Prosperity Together," a $100 million, 5-year funding initiative aimed at improving economic conditions for low-income women, specifically women and girls of color.
A report last year by the White House Council on Women and Girls identified issues for women of color including the lack of economic opportunities, vulnerability to violence, and health care disparities, which affects their well-being and quality of life. The council, along with Wake Forest University's Anna Julia Cooper Center, unveiled a series of plans to resolve them.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, said although there has been progress to combat issues stifling women and girls of color, one of the major findings from last year's report was the insufficient research done of these subjects.
"We've made great strides to protect the middle class (from) poverty since the president has been elected, but too often, women and girls of color face limited opportunities," said Jarrett.
In hopes to help the effort for women of color, The Anna Julia Cooper Center and 24 other American colleges and universities, seminaries, research programs, and institutions will conduct more research on women and girls of color. The director of the center, Melissa Harrris-Perry, said combined, these institutions made voluntary commitments of $18 million for the next 5 years to conduct and share this data.
"Women ourselves are not homogeneous," said Teresa Younger, the chief executive officer of the Ms. Foundation. "We have different experiences at different levels."
"Women in the work force are essential to our families and the entire country, and yet women still make considerably less than men," said Younger. "Women make 78 cents to the dollar that a man makes, however, African-American women earn 16 cents and Latina women earn 55 cents of what a White non-Hispanic man makes."
The Council on Women and Girls also identified five data-driven issue areas where interventions can promote opportunities for success at school, work, and in the community. They include sponsoring/fostering school success and reducing unnecessary school discipline; meeting the needs of the vulnerable youth, improving on exclusive STEM education, sustaining and reducing rates of teenage pregnancies, and economic prosperity.
"These dollars will go towards funding innovative programs and strategies happening in communities across the U.S. and will create pathways for economic security for low-income women in their families," said Younger.