In January 2015, President Barack Obama said:
Communities that give their daughters the same opportunities as their sons, they are more peaceful, they are more prosperous, they develop faster, they are more likely to succeed.
Finding pathways to improve the health of women in Cleveland and increasing economic opportunity for them will take a multi-step, multi-path effort. As Mayor, I will actively work to build a more equitable Cleveland for the women in our community and all who call Cleveland home.
Women make up more than half of Cleveland’s population and 57% of our workforce. As a father of five daughters – Margaret, Nora, Grace, Maeve, and Erin – and a husband to my wife, Elizabeth, I have developed a deep appreciation for the impact that gender barriers can have. So, while the issue is personal for me, it also must be viewed as a public policy priority, requiring thoughtful discussion and unparalleled cooperation between all sectors across the City.
It is well-documented that women are more at risk to be victims of domestic violence and face threats to their economic security, among other challenges. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 25% of women have experienced violence at the hands of their partners and one in five women has been raped. These experiences lead to a host of physical, mental, and economic consequences for women.
Additionally, women face barriers to building their careers and prosperity. Women earn nearly 20% less than male counterparts according to the Department of Labor. The economic and social impacts wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted women more than men. According to the National Women’s Law Center, another 275,000 women dropped out of the workforce in January 2021 – bringing the total to more than 2.3 million since February 2020. This represents the lowest women’s workforce participation rate in 33 years.
What I Will Do as Mayor
As Mayor, I will hold regular listening sessions across the community on women’s issues to identify key needs and ways to help in the areas of health and safety, education, and workforce. My administration will actively support and advocate for fully funded programs offered through the federal Violence Against Women Act – and other health and safety funding. We’ll work with local groups to secure as much funding as possible for local efforts. And I will launch a City Hall Council on Women and Girls and design an internship program for girls in different areas of city hall – using a Loaned Executive Program specifically focused on women in the workforce.
To realize the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment, our community will require work in three key areas:
- Health and Safety: My administration will work with local health-care providers to continue full access to key preventive services, such as well-woman checkups, mental health needs, and access to quality maternal-child health resources. In particular, the following:
- Continue and strengthen our work with local organizations on the front lines on the prevention and treatment of mental health needs for survivors, and their children, of domestic or intimate violence;
- Ensure that the Cleveland Divisions of Police and Emergency Medical Services are active and supportive partners in this effort; and
- Our work will be inclusive and engage all facets of our community – academia, clinical and public health, law, neighborhood groups, campus police, and other organizations dedicated to health and safety – especially for women and girls.
- Education: We will continue partnership efforts with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to accomplish the following:
- Advocate for and help raise the funding required to provide equal access to high-quality education opportunities;
- Strengthen liaison efforts from City Hall and continue to bolster STEM education for girls; and
- Support early childhood literacy – including math literacy, and universal pre-kindergarten and other childcare resources.
- Workforce Training and Retention: My administration will seek additional ways to build needed resources for childcare and elder care and treat as essential infrastructure for women in the workplace, including the following:
- Partner with local workforce efforts in K-12 technology, health care and manufacturing pipelines; and
- Promote the need for gender equity and inclusion – and strengthen existing partnerships with local employers.