In Miami-Dade, there are many well-intended missions launched to help the poor and the vulnerable. The local Women’s Fund is adding its muscle to the cause, embarking on a project that will truly make a difference in the lives of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters in greater Miami.
For 25 years, the Women’s Fund Miami-Dade has worked toward an honorable goal: to improve the quality of life for women and girls. The organization has generated millions of dollars for grassroots organizations that offer assistance to women and girls in need.
But after years of following this model, the organization couldn’t always quantify success, Janet Altman, Women’s Fund board chair, recently told the Editorial Board.
Today, 20 percent of women in Miami-Dade still live in poverty — about the same figure measured 13 years ago.
Those are the disturbing findings of The Status of Women in Florida, which gives Florida a D+ on the Poverty and Opportunity Composite Index for women. And Florida currently ranks 33rd out of the 50 states, plus D.C. in the same category. Disheartening indeed.
“Despite our efforts, there has been little measurable success,” Altman said. “When you look at the status of women in Miami-Dade little has changed in years.”
So out of that sense of failure — and reaching high for transformative change — the organization is shifting gears and becoming singularly focused.
Monday, the Women’s Fund will launch a multi-year, collaborative advocacy campaign for a stubborn, enduring challenge — equal pay for equal work for women in Miami-Dade. Women in Florida who work full time earn 85 cents to the dollar earned by men. In Miami-Dade, such women make 87 cents. The nationwide average is 78 cents to every dollar a man earns.
That means that Miami already is doing a better job than most. Of course, equal pay will equal true fairness and success. To address this national inequity within the microcosm of Miami-Dade, The Women’s Fund will pool its resources and join forces with like-minded organizations and companies — and we hope there are many. In doing so, they believe that they will change the lives of women in the county — and the lives of boys and men, too — for a true generation shift.
The goal of the campaign is to:
▪ Elevate the issue of gender pay equity.
▪ Get organizations committed to the idea of equal pay for women
▪ Bring more women out of poverty
Altman said the organization believes that by just closing the wage gap, the number of working single women living in poverty in Miami-Dade would be cut in half, to under 10 percent in the next 20 years.
And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you improve the lives of a working women, you will improve the lives of their daughters, sons and husbands.
The trick for the foundation, of course, is to convince employers, large companies, the hotel industry, the overall tourism industry that equal pay for women is right and just — and more important, is good for business.
This is an ambitious project, but a necessary one.
If the Women’s Fund succeeds, it will always be known as the organization that pulled off societal change that improved lives — their initial goal.
Is it doable? We think so, especially if local businesses get on board. The Women’s Fund should be commended for committing full time to something that no one else in the community is tackling full on.