Women's rights

Power of Your Purse 2017 - Empowering Girls Through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Every year, The United Way of Salt Lake hosts its annual Power of Your Purse Gala, raising funds for and celebrating the work of the Women's Leadership Council. The efforts of the Women's Leadership Council are focused upon Women for Education Achievement, which aims to help young girls and women reach their potential through education.

The Women's Leadership Council is a group of over 250 local women leaders with a goal of increasing the educational opportunity and achievement for all girls and young women in our community. Their focus, the Women for Educational Achievement, shoot to make a positive impact through tracking key metrics such as:

·       Increasing the percent of elementary students testing proficient or higher in math and reading by the third grade;

·       Pushing middle school students to play a more active role in engaging in their education by showing they understand its value and importance to their future success;

·       Measurably improved high school graduation rates; and

·       A major focus on the entrance to and completion of post-secondary educational programs such as technical training or college.

To influence students in pursuing these goals, the Women’s Leadership Council has made efforts to change the narrative and cultural factors regarding women’s place in education and the workforce. By coordinating with local partners promoting education in the community, progress has been made in all of these key areas, but a lot of work must still be done. Funding curriculum that highlights the importance of post-secondary education, as well as raising awareness of and addressing financial issues that impact the ability to pursue continued education remain top priority for the Council.

The annual Power of Your Purse event is held as the signature event to bring awareness and raise funds for these issues, and more. This year's focus will be on launching new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives for low-income students across the Salt Lake Valley. Keynote speaker Reshma Saujani will discuss the importance of equipping young women with the technological and computing skills necessary to pursue high quality careers in the 21st century. She is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national leader on closing the gender gap in computer science and technology jobs. Her recent TED Talk on empowering girls and young women by teaching them bravery through risk-taking and the embracing failure, as well as the importance of mentorship, has over 3 million views.

While tickets to this event have sold out, you can still make a donation to support STEM initiatives for low income students by clicking on the button below.

YWCA hires Women’s Public Policy and Advocacy Position

Welcome Erin Jemison and congratulations to the YWCA!

Fueled by data and research from the Women’s Policy Research Institute’s The Well-Being of Women in Utah, a number of women advocates and leaders met last fall and identified the need for deeper research, understanding, and advocacy in Utah around issues of women’s safety, economic empowerment, and health. The YWCA has stepped up and Tami and I are excited to see the organization hire its first Women’s Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator.

Erin Jemison, a veteran of non-profit advocacy and organizing, previously served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA), a Victim Advocacy Representative, and Chairperson of the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board. Throughout her tenure at CCASA, Erin led initiatives to strengthen public policy and ensure that survivors received comprehensive services and that offenders were held appropriately accountable.

As Director, Erin will focus on social and economic issues related to the quality of women’s lives in Utah. The role includes developing and implementing mission-based strategies to promote effective collaboration, educate the general public, and influence constructive policy changes by working with policymakers, and community leaders. This position plays a key role in developing the YWCA’s Utah Women’s Well-Being Initiative (UWWBI), which advances the well-being of Utah women in key dimensions of their lives through research, issue education, collaboration, and public policy advocacy.

Erin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from William Smith College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Montana State University.

Peace and Possibility Project is a proud sponsor of the YWCA and we were happy to provide seed funding for this position. We’d like to congratulate the YWCA and their staff as well for successfully pulling together the additional resources and finding a great candidate for the position. To find out more information, please visit www.ywcautah.org.

Director Dan Karslake: Back in SLC

Acclaimed Director, Dan Karslake, made his way back to Salt Lake City.

Dan Karslake (with DP Amy Bronson) shooting an interview with John and Margi Dehlin in their home in Logan, UT

Dan Karslake (with DP Amy Bronson) shooting an interview with John and Margi Dehlin in their home in Logan, UT

Dan Karslake (with DP Amy Bronson) shooting an interview with John and Margi Dehlin in their home in Logan, UT

Dan’s documentary For The Bible Tells Me So premiered at Sundance in 2007 and was an exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the U.S. and how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to stigmatize the gay community. This documentary swept up countless awards and recognition, and raised awareness to the damaging effects of how the religious right’s efforts to suppress homosexuality can be extremely damaging to LGBTQ individuals.

Margi & John Dehlin talk about their journey to excommunication for the film, "For We Know Not What We Do".

Margi & John Dehlin talk about their journey to excommunication for the film, "For We Know Not What We Do".

Even though the recent Supreme Court ruling legalized same sex marriage, there is still a long way to go in changing the hearts and minds of Americans, especially those in the religious right. Eight years after the release of his film, Dan is still receiving questions about the stories of those in the film – this in addition to the recent ruling motivated Dan to make another film, entitled For We Know Not What We Do. Dan’s new film delves deeper into the intersection of religious freedom and the religious right and includes additional personal stories from LGBTQ individuals and their families. We were thrilled to host Dan as he traveled back to Salt Lake City from Berlin to continue his important work.

Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain women, spoke to "For We Know Not What We Do" about her advocacy for the ordination of women within the LDS church.

Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain women, spoke to "For We Know Not What We Do" about her advocacy for the ordination of women within the LDS church.

This documentary played a large role in raising awareness about the complex relationship between religion and homosexuality—it also raised awareness about the danger many young LGBTQ individuals are in if they are forced to change. LGBTQ young adults have a much higher rate of suicide than heterosexual youths, making Dan’s work critical to creating and environment where LGBTQ individuals can thrive and live without fear of alienation.

The arts play a critical role in raising public awareness and advocating for social justice, and we encourage everyone to not only support the arts, but also to support a society where LGBTQ individuals do not have to face shame from their families or the public at large. Please watch his film, and get involved with the cause.

YWCA of Utah kicks off Women's Policy & Advocacy Position

Jane Marquardt, Tami Marquardt, & Ann Burkholder

Jane Marquardt, Tami Marquardt, & Ann Burkholder

When women thrive, so too do those that surround them.  It is when women are safe, free, healthy, educated, economically secure, and are able to influence key decisions, that their strength benefits their families and their communities.

The YWCA in Utah has long committed themselves to the well-being of women, and provided support so women can flourish. The well-being of Utah women is fundamental to the health of our families and communities, and helps Utah to be more economically vibrant, educated, caring, and inclusive. In order to achieve these goals and support women to their fullest, the YWCA has created their first, full time public policy advocacy and outreach position in the organization working exclusively on women’s issues in 110 years. Tami and I are thrilled to support this position.

Since Utah has been recognized as one of the lowest performing states for women, the creation of this position is a great accomplishment. This position will develop the YWCA’s distinctive voice to engage and advance work for the well-being of women in Utah through research, education, collaboration, and advocacy.  It will help address the critical issues of Utah’s wage-gap, lower the number of women living in poverty, expand secondary and higher education opportunities, and promote safe relationships and marriages where a woman’s mental and physical health can thrive.  This work is deeply rooted in the YWCA’s historic identity and after 10 years of trying to have a more policy role in women’s issues, it is finally a reality.

We are proud to support the YWCA of Utah and hope that others will offer support as well.  We know that the creation of this position is long overdue and will help women have a unique voice in public policy and advocacy, something much needed in Utah.

To learn more about the public policy position or contribute to support its launch, visit www.ywca.org.