International Women’s Day, a day to #PressforProgress for gender parity and inclusiveness, dates back to 1909, when a group of women gathered in New York City to advocate for women’s rights. Today, a group of Women United members and their guests gathered at the International Institute of Minnesota for a conversation about pathways to gender parity with Executive Director Jane Graupman.
“Today may be International Women’s Day, but every day should be women’s day. Where would we be without women?” said Lynn Abrahams from U.S. Bank.
“As a woman and a minority, I was intrigued by the topic,” said Kira Tran from Fairview, a first-time Women United attendee.
“I think International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge how far women have come in the workforce, and for us to be proud,” said Colleen Cass from Wells Fargo.
However, there is still a long way to go when it comes to overcoming barriers—and nowhere is this more evident than for women who are new Americans. That’s why Greater Twin Cities United Way has partnered with The International Institute of Minnesota for more than 80 years.
The institute helps new Americans—many of them single moms coming from refugee camps- achieve self-sufficiency by providing housing, education, job training, language classes, and immigration services. Last year, they helped more than 4,000 clients from 98 countries: 78% were women.
“When you look at our country and the disparities that exist, it is very discouraging,” Graupman said. “The most important thing we can do for these women is to build career pathways—help them find their first job and then move up from entry level to a higher paying job.”
Two programs at the institute that have seen overwhelming success and growth are the healthcare and hospitality career pathways. The healthcare program has trained more than 2,700 assistants to date, with approximately 500 of those individuals taking the next step to become registered and licensed practical nurses. The newer hospitality program has already placed over 180 women in full-time positions with healthcare benefits—20 of those have quickly advanced to become supervisors.
Women United member Lori Gubrud from U.S. Bank said the talk impacted her today.
“It’s clear what a difference it makes for a woman to go from a minimum wage job to a better-paying job,” Gubrud said. “I love supporting other women and helping them get to the next level, and this is a reminder we should be doing it every day, not just International Women’s Day.”
Women United and Greater Twin Cities United Way are committed to strengthening the lives of women and children in our community. Since 2005, Women United members have invested more than $6 million through Innovation Grants to organizations like The International Institute of Minnesota that support financial stability for women.
Learn more about United Way’s Jobs for All initiative.
Jenna Bennett is a copywriter at Greater Twin Cities United Way, where she enjoys crafting content for multiple GTCUW channels. She attended Women United’s International Women’s Day event where she saw first-hand the importance of GTCUW’s partnership with the International Institute in creating pathways toward prosperity for women who are new Americans.