In the wake of the pandemic, the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) has launched SHEcovery to support women of color in the workforce.
Decades of hard-fought gender equity progress have vanished over the past 18 months as women have been pushed out of the workforce in record numbers due to COVID-19 while taking on increased childcare and caregiving responsibilities. To address these challenges head-on, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) today announced SHEcovery™ – a commitment from the Foundation to fund, support, and build a more equitable system that supports Women of Color.
SHEcovery™ offers a call to action to invest in women and girls and an advocacy agenda for the policies needed to drive real change. A report released today at CFW’s 36th annual luncheon outlines priorities and recommendations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unimaginable toll on every single one of us,” said Felicia Davis, President and CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women. “However, data proves that women – especially Women of Color – have lost the most; have been impacted by far, far worse outcomes across the spectrum, especially regarding financial stability and security, workforce participation, joblessness, and health.”
The work is already underway. In Fiscal Year 21, CFW awarded $3.2 million through nearly 250 grants to support Shecovery™ for women, girls, trans, and gender nonbinary individuals across the Chicago area. To combat systemic community disinvestment exacerbated by COVID-19, CFW prioritized investments in organizations both serving and led by Women of Color, frontline workers, single parent-headed households, immigrants, and domestic workers. These organizations are addressing issues of job loss, health inequities, and gender-based violence, among others.
Additionally, CFW is committed to raising $11 million in SHEcovery™ funds over the next two years to power additional movements through grantmaking and advocacy, driving intersectional gender equity, investing in four key strategies:
- Get Women Back to Work: Women continue to be hardest hit by the pandemic. In December 2020, the U.S. economy lost 156,000 jobs. Women held 90% of those jobs. Shecovery™ will get women back to work by advocating for policies that make quality childcare accessible; provide education and training in high-demand or emerging sectors; create reskilling programs with flexible hours for single mothers; increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour; and provide paid sick and family medical leave for all Illinoisans.
- Address the Eviction Crisis: Prior to COVID-19, Chicago’s low-income renters and households of color were already experiencing high levels of housing insecurity. Shecovery™ will champion the need to increase rental assistance; reinstate the federal eviction moratorium; seal COVID-19 related evictions; and protect and expand affordable housing.
- Care for Our Caregivers: Even before the pandemic, our society relied on caregivers and unpaid care work. Often Women of Color, too frequently underpaid or unpaid, our caregivers are on the frontlines for our families. Quality care programs affordable for working families require large-scale public investment in a national care infrastructure, and Shecovery™ aims to support this by improving Medicare and Medicaid; helping to pass legislation ensuring families can access safe, affordable, high quality, and convenient childcare; making care available during non-standard hours (such as weekends, after school, nights, when job schedules change); eliminating childcare deserts; investing in new and innovative care models and in organizations advocating for labor and workers’ rights; and passing policies to ensure care jobs are good jobs.
- Demand an Antiracist Healthcare System: A gender-equitable recovery will prioritize policies that protect women’s health, bodily autonomy, and freedom by ensuring that they are healthy and have access to affordable and quality healthcare. Shecovery™ will support work to dismantle racist systems preventing Chicago’s Black and Brown communities from accessing the COVID vaccine; lift the FDA’s in-person dispensing requirement for patients seeking medical abortions; advocate for the passage of the Parental Notice of Abortion (PNA) Act; ensuring health plans have robust coverage for contraceptives, pregnancy management, and abortion; fully implement the Reproductive Health Act (H.B. 40); expand access to quality mental health and substance abuse support; and codify the tenets of Roe V. Wade at the federal level and fully fund Title X.
“What we do in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, locally, nationally, and globally will define what our collective future looks like, so we’d better make our actions count,” said Davis. “We all have a role to play to ensure women emerge from the Shecession stronger than before, and SHEcovery™ offers us the roadmap to do just that.”
CFW has invested over $42 million in organizations supporting women, girls, trans, and gender nonbinary people since its founding in 1985. Learn more about SHEcovery™ and how to join the movement at www.SHEcovery.com.
About Chicago Foundation for Women
Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. CFW funds organizations working to solve the biggest problems facing women and girls: economic insecurity, violence, and lack of access to health care and information. Since its founding, CFW has invested more than $42 million in hundreds of organizations, leveraging the generosity of nearly 3,000 donors, impacting over 89,000 women, girls, trans, and gender non-binary individuals in our region. In addition to grantmaking, CFW invests in developing women leaders and advocates, and brings together diverse coalitions to collaborate, share resources, and develop solutions. Learn more at www.cfw.org.