From the President's Desk...

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Welcome to the 2015 Women’s Empowerment Summit.

The Urban League of Southern Connecticut is still actively empowering communities and changing lives throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties. Since its inception in 1910, women have played a significant role in the history of the Urban League. A woman, Hattie Clayburn, in 1967 was instrumental in forming the Urban League of Southwestern Fairfield County, now known as the Urban League of Southern Connecticut. Its goal was to improve the quality of life of black people. Of the 15 founding members, six were women.

The challenges these organizations set out to address over forty-six years ago are still relevant today. In 2015, more than fifty years after the passing of the Equal Pay Act the White House details a report tracking the gains in education, work force participation, entrepreneurship, military service and tech and examines why all of these changes still haven't resulted in pay parity.

The report found the following:

  • Occupational segregation is responsible for 27 percent of the gender wage gap. This means that women are more likely to work in low- or minimum wage service jobs.

  • A women would have to work 12 years longer than a man to equal his career earnings.

  • Women in the U.S. earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

  • In 2009, African-American women earned 71 cents and Latina women earned 62 cents for every dollar a man earned.

  • If the wage gap was closed, the poverty rate would decrease by half for single mothers and over 25 percent for dual-earner families.

    After a considerable move towards more integrated occupations in the 1970s and 1980s, progress has completely stalled since the mid-1990s. This prevents able people from moving into occupations where they could perform well and experience satisfaction. Analysis confirms that average earnings tend to be lower the higher the percentage of female workers in an occupation. This relationship is strongest for the most highly skilled occupations, such as medicine or law. This is also a strong feature of jobs requiring little formal education and experience, increasing the likelihood of very low earnings for women working in female-dominated, low-skilled occupations such as childcare, and various service Industry sectors.

    It is for this reason that the Urban League of Southern Connecticut continues to provide programs that will enable African Americans and other minorities to “secure and sustain economic self-reliance and parity.” We do this by providing relevant programs including our Homebuyers’ Education, Financial Education, Workforce Development and Youth Programs. We are also very involved in helping people who are facing foreclosure.

    We hope you will be inspired by the wonderful, accomplished women being honored and who are on the program today. We also hope this Empowerment Summit for Women will provide each of you with tools you can use in your journey to economic self-reliance.

    Valarie Shultz-Wilson, President & CEO