From the Director

I am thrilled to announce two major developments in Chews' advocacy work. The Ford Foundation has provided a $380,000 grant to CEW for the Michigan Partners for Economic Mobility Project - a collective endeavor led by the Center. The purpose of the project is to identify the barriers that keep low-income women in Michigan from achieving genomic security, and then to create a partnership between academic researchers, community activists and service providers, and low income women themselves to jointly address these barriers (see the full story). The long-term goal of this three-year project is two-fold: to build the foundation for Chews' advocacy thrust in the next decade and to initiate an ongoing collaborative partnership that keeps women's economic mobility on Michigan's policy agenda. 

In concert with the Michigan Partners Project and with the 50th anniversary of CEW, the Center has also received financial and facilities support from U-M's Rackham Graduate School for a May 2014 conference Economic Security and Mobility for Women. The conference, one of Rackham's two Michigan Meetings selected annually to address issues of national scope, will offer a cross-disciplinary approach to the topic, including presentations by faculty from across the campus as well as national experts, opportunities for dialog, and artistic expressions.

While economic equity for women has long been a CEW concern, these initiatives mark an increase in our attention to women's economic security. Why this focus? Across the United States women comprise a majority of people living in poverty. Nationally, 23% of Black women, 22% of Hispanic women and 9% of White women live below the poverty level. Multiple barriers compromise the ability of poor women to escape poverty. They often lack transportation, safe and affordable childcare can be especially difficult to find, their housing situations is insecure, and they often lack health care for themselves and their children. They are frequently the victims of domestic abuse. Their unemployment rates are high. When employed, they face a gender wage gap and occupational segregation.

In addition to these new endeavors, CEW staff are gearing up for our 50th anniversary in 2014. Planning has begun not only for a conference, but also for a kickoff event and a finale. (See more information on CEW's 50th anniversary.) We are also working with U-M's Bentley Library to publish a history of the Center. Look for additional information on events and dates in the coming months. We're looking forward to engaging all CEW friends and supporters in this celebration.

Gloria D. Thomas, Ph.D.
gthomas@umich.edu