April 30, 2012

Press Release: She Matters Report on Women and Girls Released

April 24, 2012
Contact:          Diane Ramsey
                        Executive Director, IWLC
                        Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference
                        319-263-2841 or dhramsey@rockwellcollins.com


IOWA CITY, IOWA – A newly-released report provides a comprehensive portrait of the achievements and challenges for Iowa’s female population—and the report’s publishers vow to work together to engage state leaders and other stakeholders in improving conditions for women and girls statewide.

“SHE MATTERS: 2012 Status of Women and Girls in Iowa” was developed by the Iowa Women’s Leadership Project, a public-private partnership of organizations focused on supporting Iowa’s girls and women.

“The measure of the status of women is an indicator of quality of life in a community,” says San Wong, Director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights, which oversees the state’s commission on women’s issues. “If women and girls do not have equal access to education, health care, and career growth, the lives of their children and families are affected, ultimately impacting our society as a whole.”

Among the 52-page report’s more troubling findings, Wong notes, are statistics such as these:
  • Nearly 14% of Iowa’s women live in poverty
  • 1 in 3 Iowa women do not have health insurance
  • Females comprise 58% of Iowa’s homeless and over 20% of the state’s offender population
However, Wong explains, not all statistics are discouraging:
  • 6 in 10 Iowa college students are women
  • Nearly equal numbers of Iowa women and men hold advanced degrees
  • A greater percentage of Iowa women than men are registered voters
  • 80% of Iowa women ages 16 to 64 are in the labor force
  • More than half of the state’s working women consider themselves the family’s “primary breadwinner”

Evolving from annual events sponsored by the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference (IWLC), the Iowa Women’s Leadership Project formed in 2011 to collectively address the members’ common goals, and is chaired by IWLC Executive Director Diane Ramsey of Cedar Rapids.

“This report clearly shows that we have a great deal of work to do in ensuring that women and girls have equal opportunities to succeed,” Ramsey says. “We believe the Iowa Women’s Leadership Project provides the impetus and the data to influence state and corporate leaders, policymakers, educators and the nonprofit sector in helping us affect positive change. Our partnership has a permanent stake in the well-being of girls and women in Iowa, and we plan to continue our efforts on their behalf.”

“SHE MATTERS” will be the topic of a post-luncheon work session at IWLC’s April 25 “State of Change 2012” leadership conference at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. The conference is a sell-out, with 900 women from across the state registered to attend.

Terry Hernandez, Executive Director of the Chrysalis Foundation in Des Moines and the report’s author, summarizes the philosophy of the Iowa Women’s Leadership Project. “Women who have the education, employment, and assets to provide a meaningful and healthy life for themselves and their families are economically secure,” she says. “To meet this goal, women must be safe, be educated and employed, have access to health care and child care, and have equal opportunities for career and leadership advancement. Once these needs are met, women become independent, vital, and contributing citizens of Iowa. The Status report provides our roadmap. ”

Iowa Women’s Leadership Project partner organizations include:

IWLC (Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference)
NEXUS Executive Women’s Alliance
Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University
Iowa Department of Human Rights
Iowa Women’s Foundation
Friends of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women
Iowa Network for Women in Higher Education
Women’s Connection, Quad Cities and Muscatine
Women Aware, Sioux City
The Way Up Conference
Business and Professional Women/Iowa
Women’s Leadership Network, Dubuque
Des Moines Women Connected
Mapping Strategies

“SHE MATTERS: 2012 Status of Women and Girls in Iowa” is available on all partner organization websites, or by calling 319-263-2841.