Staff Blog

This is a space where Foundation staff share their thoughts and musings on giving and community:

Marching Forward

Posted by: Meg Smith on 4/21/2017

The Women’s March on January 21, 2017 was a watershed moment. Originally planned for Washington D.C., this expression of solidarity ignited women around the globe to stand up and march for their rights. After I marched in Montpelier, I watched the footage of marches happening world-wide, filled with a rainbow of people and issues. It was so powerful and exhilarating!  

Three months later, I can attest from my perch at the Vermont Women’s Fund that the energy about women’s rights—particularly, on equal pay and economic security—continues unabated.

For example, there’s been a surge of interest in women’s entrepreneurship. I witnessed this firsthand when the Vermont Women’s Fund co-hosted Dream, Girl, a documentary about the aspirations of women entrepreneurs. The theater was packed! Moms with their daughters, high school and college students, and women of varying ages filled the audience, all eager to learn about what it takes to start a business. We are going to show the film again, next time on May 23 in White River Junction at the Briggs Opera House—you can learn more about that here.

Another milestone is the recent release of Change The Story’s fourth report, Vermont Women and Leadership. This comprehensive status report reveals new data about the participation of women in federal, state and municipal government; Abenaki Nations; academia; law enforcement; and the corporate and nonprofit sectors. The good news is that Vermont is a national pacesetter in its share of women in a few categories but lags far behind in many others. Clearly, more work needs to happen so we see women as decision makers and influencers across the board.

But things are looking promising—for instance, Governor Phil Scott and his transition team have read the Change The Story reports and are taking this work seriously. And the Governor appointed more women to his administration leadership than any other Governor to date. Right on, Governor!

One more thing about the Women’s March and its effect on Vermont—the Persist 5K Run/Walk, a non-competitive race, will take place on Mother’s Day. The idea was born from the energy of the Women’s March by an ad hoc group of women from Charlotte, who now call themselves, the Persisters. Go to www.persist5K.com to register and see how you can participate. And this is not for women only—anyone who loves and respects women is encouraged to attend.

That’s what’s happening in my world! There’s energy, feistiness, and a sense that we are all in this together to make positive change. As Joe Fusco, of Casella Waste Systems said recently at the Equal Pay Day event at the statehouse, “It’s a competitive advantage to have women at all levels of business.  We cannot afford to leave 50% of the talent and brains off the table.” I think his remarks reflect a growing understanding that we are all be better served when women are equally represented in all sectors of our state. I’m looking forward to continuing the march toward that goal with all of you! 

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