Facts and Figures about International Women's Day in the USA

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Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, Washington DC

International Women’s Day in the US

  • In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day was observed across the United States on 28 February 1909.
  • In 2011 there are over 180 events in celebration worldwide, and over 30 events alone in the US. The event in for the Washington metropolitan area will be held in Washington DC, on March 7th, 2011. The event “Celebration to Honor the US Secretary of State’s 2011 International Women of Courage. It will be held at the: National Press Club 529 14th Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC, 20045. The American Women for International Understanding is hosting the event.
    • This group promotes international understand through delegation, grants and educational chapters in nine areas of the US since 1968. This year will be its fourth year in honoring these women. There are 10 awardees. The objective of this organization from its founding until now has been to encourage people around the world, particularly women, to engage in meaningful dialogue, which helps us understand one another. These efforts are person to person and we believe these small efforts ripple out “in small ways” to make this a better world
  • In the US the whole month of March has been designated as Women’s History Month
  • The theme for 2011 International Women’s Day is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women
  • The US theme
    • USA, IBM: Women@IBM: Success in the Globally Integrated Enterprise
  • The State Department of the US recognizes the day; Secretary Clinton and President Obama have addressed it in past years.
  • Clintons message last year- “Today, the United States is making women a cornerstone of foreign policy because we think it’s the right thing to do, but we also believe it’s the smart thing to do as well. Investing in the potential of the world’s women and girls is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for women — and men — the world over. So on this International Women’s Day, let us rededicate ourselves to advancing and protecting the rights of women and girls, and to join together to ensure that no one is left behind in the 21st century.”


Women Rights Activists/Groups

  • Hillary Clinton- Currently, thousands of young female rights activists across the United States have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to look up to as the standard bearer for women's rights leadership. She is the most powerful politician to advance an explicitly feminist agenda. Clinton has been riding a wave of optimism that women hold the key to global development and peace. She was key to setting up UN Women which started at the beginning of 2011.
       (video message from Hilary Clinton)
         (article on Hilary Clinton)
  • Julia Bolz- A women’s rights activist providing social guidance to countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Central Asia. She founded the Journey with an Afghan School program after 9/11 to help bridge the cultural divide between the U.S. and Afghanistan particularly by increasing the educational opportunities afforded to young women. Before joining the grassroots movement for gender equality, she worked at one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms, Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland. She received Seattle’s Tom C. Wales Citizenship Award for her combined humanitarian efforts. Bolz graduated from Smith College.
  • NOW - The National Organization for Women: is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
    Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.
  • WLO- Women Leaders Online: the first & largest women’s activist group on the internet, WLO works to empower women in politics, media, society, the economy, & cyberspace. 
  • Ms. Foundation for Women: supports & advocates for women & girls & offers numerous programs, including Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day & the Collaborative Fund for Women’s Economic Development.
  • CAWP- Center for the American Woman & Politics: a research, education, & public service center at Rutgers University whose mission is to enhance women’s influence & leadership in public life.

Women in US Political decision-making bodies in the US

  • Current Numbers of Women Officeholders 2011
    • 6 Federal Executives (Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions)
    • 3 US Supreme Court
    • 89 Congress total ( 17 US Senate, 72 House of Representatives)
    • 1,718 State Legislature
    • 68 Statewide Executive (governor, lt. governor, and other statewide elected officials)
    • 209 Mayors

First Women on the national level facts

  • Since 1789, only 2% of members of Congress have been women.
  • 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman on the Supreme Court
  • 2007 Nancy Pelosi first woman to lead the House of Representatives

Topics in the news about Women in Politics:

  • Are Women taking over?
  • Women in Politics? The US is failing
  • Is the US ready for a Female President?

Legislative Efforts for Women
Paycheck Fairness Acat (S. 182). S. 182 would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially the same work.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which the House of Representatives passed overwhelmingly in January 2009 by a 256-163 margin, closes loopholes in the EPA that have diluted its effectiveness in combating unfair and unequal pay. While the EPA has helped to narrow the wage gap between men and women in our workforce, significant disparities remain and need to be addressed.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would:

  • Ensure that women can obtain the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination as those available to victims of race-based and national origin discrimination;
  • Eliminate unfair defenses to pay discrimination currently available to employers;
  • Prohibit employer retaliation against employees who disclose or discuss their salaries;
  • Improve wage data collection;
  • Make clear that individuals may compare themselves to similarly situated employees to determine whether wage discrimination exists, even if those employees do not work in the same physical location.

In today's economic climate, women's wages are critical components of working families' struggle to make ends meet. Women in particular are often forced to raise their families on incomes lower than male colleagues performing the same jobs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earn. In 2008, women were 35 percent more likely to live in poverty than men. The statistics are even worse for women of color. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help ensure that women workers are not shortchanged, thus promoting stable family incomes and preventing the kinds of home foreclosures and credit defaults that precipitated the recent recession.

Proposition 8 - (or the California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections. The measure added a new provision, Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, to the California Constitution, which provides that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

  • Voting YES on PROPOSITION 8 - will define MARRIAGE in California to mean only a union between one man and one woman.  
  • Voting NO on PROPOSITION 8 - will define MARRIAGE in California to mean a union between any two people regardless of gender, which would include same-sex couples.


The “International Violence Against Women Act” (IVAWA)
- was first introduced in 2008 and reintroduced in 2010 to foster a more comprehensive, coordinated approach that supporters of the legislation, including International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), believed would be more effective and fiscally responsible.

The bill received unprecedented attention as the subject of multiple Congressional hearings and debates. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed IVAWA on Dec. 14, 2010 however the Congressional calendar did not allow time for a full Senate vote on the legislation.

ICRW experts say IVAWA provides the U.S. an opportunity to become a worldwide leader in a comprehensive approach to reducing violence against women. “Reducing violence against women will have a double dividend,” said Mary Ellsberg, ICRW’s vice president of research and programs and an expert on in issues related to gender-based violence. “It will help end a gross human rights violation, and give women more opportunities to realize their full educational, economic and social potential, which will ultimately lead to more stable and prosperous societies.”


The Fair Pay Act (S. 904, H.R. 2151) is sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). It seeks to end wage discrimination against those who work in female-dominated or minority-dominated jobs by establishing equal pay for equivalent work. For example, within individual companies, employers could not pay jobs that are held predominately by women less than jobs held predominately by men if those jobs are equivalent in value to the employer. The bill also protects workers on the basis of race or national origin. The Fair Pay Act makes exceptions for different wage rates based on seniority, merit, or quantity or quality of work. It also contains a small business exemption.


Economics facts on Women in the US

Facts on Women Workers in the US at: http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/main.htm.

  • Women are more likely than men to work part-time (Median weekly earning of female part-time workers were $229).
  • Of the 122 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 59.2 percent, were labor force participants—working or looking for work.
  • Women comprised 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to account for 46.9 percent of the labor force in 2018.
  • Women are projected to account for 51.2 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.
  • 66 million women were employed in the U.S.—74 percent of employed women worked on full-time jobs, while 26 percent worked on a part-time basis. 
  • The largest percentage of employed women (40 percent) worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 32 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 21 percent in service occupations; 5 percent in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 1 percent in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
  • The largest percentage of employed Asian, white, and black women (47, 41, and 34 percent, respectively) worked in management, professional, and related occupations. For Hispanic women, it was sales and office occupations—32 percent.
  • The unemployment rate for all women was 8.1 percent and 10.3 percent for men in 2009. For Asian women it was 6.6 percent; white women, 7.3 percent; Hispanic women, 11.5 percent; and black women, 12.4 percent.
  • The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers was $657, or 80 percent of men’s $819. When comparing the median weekly earnings of persons aged 16 to 24, young women earned 93 percent of what young men earned ($424 and $458, respectively).
  • Of persons aged 25 years and older, 29 percent of women and 30 percent of men had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher; 31 percent of women and men had completed only high school, no college.
  • The higher a person’s educational attainment, the more likely they will be a labor force participant (working or looking for work) and less likely to be unemployed.
  • For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, 34 percent were labor force participants; high school diploma, no college, 53 percent; some college, but no degree, 62 percent; associate degree, 72 percent; and bachelor’s degree or higher, 73 percent.
  • For women age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma, their unemployment rate was 14.2 percent; high school diploma, no college, 8.0 percent; some college, but no degree, 8.0 percent; associate degree, 5.9 percent; and bachelor’s degree or higher, 4.5 percent.


  • The economic status of women is critical to the success and growth of every state and the entire country. When women can contribute as full and equal participants in work, politics, and community life, they unleash the potential of cities, states, and the nation as a whole.
  • 2010 women were hit worse than men with the recession


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