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When We Invest in Women, We All Rise

Dear GLIDE Community,

When historians look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, they will tell the story of women rising to challenges of historic proportions with profound resilience, power and leadership. They will also tell a story of tremendous sacrifice, loss and disappointment. The biggest insight from this tragedy will be how the pandemic clearly exposed the fragility of women’s progress and the persistence of longstanding and ubiquitous gender inequities.

As COVID-19 ravages our communities, exacerbating poverty, housing instability and food insecurity, the virus is taking an especially devastating toll on women. Many women, who were already straining to hold on to precarious and superficial advances, have had the bottom fall out from under them. And every indicator points to women of color suffering disproportionately.

Throughout this crisis, already overextended women have lost jobs, experienced food insecurity and spent increased time on unpaid childcare. Violence against women and children has escalated significantly, as many people have been forced to stay home in increasingly hostile and unsafe environments. In a matter of months, hard-fought gains women have made in pay equity, employment and financial stability were nearly wiped out. And on top of the virus’s economic toll, women of color have been significantly more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and to die from its impact.

Despite living in the wealthiest state in a wealthy country, women and children in California do not escape the same tragic inequities we are seeing around the nation. It may be surprising to know that, according to data from the California Women’s Foundation, California has the highest rates of child poverty in the country and women in San Francisco rank in the lower third of all California counties for indicators of wellness, safety and food security.

We see these realities every day at GLIDE. In a survey conducted by our Family, Youth and Childcare Center, which predominantly serves families of color headed by women, 93 percent of respondents reported income losses due to the pandemic, 47 percent didn’t have any weekly income and 71 percent of the women surveyed said GLIDE helped them avoid hunger. Through our essential support services, GLIDE helps women and their families stabilize their lives and thrive.

Research shows that investing in women drives progress for everyone. According to USAID, “A woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community.” This is why GLIDE prioritizes support of women and families of color to help break intergenerational poverty and drive systemic change. Through our new Center for Women and Families, and increased policy and advocacy efforts from our Center for Social Justice, more people will access pathways out of poverty, increase stability and gain lasting economic independence.

To realize the collective progress we all make from lifting up women, we must first seek to understand why so many women lost so much so quickly. Then, as the world starts to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, elected officials, policymakers and leaders across sectors must place women’s economic opportunity and stability at the forefront of the nation’s recovery efforts.

On this day, March 24, 2021, people across the country will mark Equal Pay Day, which calls for an end to longstanding gender pay gaps in our society. It is time to invest in women at all levels. It is time to bring women into leadership, bolster our social safety net, address food insecurity, close the gender pay gap, provide paid family leave, expand access to quality healthcare, and invest in affordable childcare. It is time to create lasting structural change to ensure equality, equity and opportunity for all women. There is everything to gain, for our children, for our families, for our communities, for our world.

In Solidarity,

Karen J. Hanrahan 
President & CEO, GLIDE