Women's Economic Power Agenda Summit


November 16 - 17, 2023

convened by:

Women Employed
SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas Logo
Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsor

JP Morgan Chase

Thank you for helping to make the WEPA Summit such a great event! Based upon conversations and learnings at the Summit, we have developed a Women’s Economic Power Agenda for Illinois—a cross-sector, multi-issue set of recommendations for building the economic power of women in Illinois. This report focuses on solutions that will provide economic benefits to women in the short-term rather than ten years from now. 

About the WEPA Summit:

November 16th – 17th, 2023

Day One: In Person + Livestream, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CT
Day Two: Virtual, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT

In Person Location: SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas
2229 S. Halsted St, Chicago, IL  60608

The Women’s Economic Power Agenda (WEPA) Summit is meant to be a catalyst to drive Collective Impact around the shared goal of a more equitable and inclusive economic landscape for women, their families, and their communities in Illinois.

Summit Goals:

Harness the power of collective impact and convene a collaborative working meeting that brings
together Illinois stakeholders with diverse needs, interests, priorities, and agendas all aligned with the
shared goal of ensuring a more equitable and inclusive economic landscape for women, their families,
and their communities.

Identify, uplift and create impactful policies, programs, practices, and actions that will put more money in women’s wallets TODAY, not generations from now.

Establish a shared roadmap to catalyze collective impact, tangible change and foster economic equity
for women in Illinois.

Women's Economic Power Pillars

Health and Safety

Making a living should not come at the cost of our health or our family’s wellness. Exercising our fundamental right to
make the best decisions for ourselves, our bodies, and our safety should not be a privilege or determined by financial
means. This pillar of work acknowledges the entwined nature of our wellness, bodily autonomy, safety, freedom from
violence, and our economic health. This pillar may include:

  • Reproductive justice
  • Gender based violence
  • Paid leave
  • Access to mental health care

Work and Entrepreneurship

The global pandemic made the intersection of family and work more evident with employees needing to manage work, caregiving, and education simultaneously, with women continuing to carry the majority of caregiving responsibilities. The
strain is only increased by the deepening crisis of the lack of quality, affordable, accessible childcare, and the low quality of childcare jobs. Employers must take the opportunity to redefine the status quo and ensure they are creating true equity for their workforce. The best jobs engage employees in meaningful work they are recognized for, and encourage a sense of belonging to the workplace and workforce. For those whose work involves a “side hustle” or an established small business, support in creating an equitable workplace, access to capital and other resources, as well as support navigating those resources, can lead to fulfillment and contribution to the local economy. This pillar may include:

  • Child care access and affordability
  • Fair Scheduling
  • Harassment and Discrimination
  • Access to capital and other resources for women entrepreneurs
  • Women and minority-owned business designation and contracts
  • Equitable access to infrastructure dollars and jobs

Wages and Wealth

Fair wages and equal compensation are the bare minimum which women require to develop economic power; beyond wages and compensation, cash assistance and tax credits are ways to provide an immediate economic boost to the women who are the least economically secure. This pillar of work focuses on the need to improve wages for women and related compensation policies and practices to get paid fairly and have an opportunity to build wealth. This pillar may include

  • Gender wage gap including occupational segregation
  • Unpaid/underpaid labor including wage theft
  • Tax credits
  • Direct Cash Assistance and Guaranteed Basic Income
  • Minimum and Subminimum Wages
  • Student debt
  • Salary transparency

Education and Training

Post-secondary education puts women on a path to better employment and higher wages. However, the cost of education and training is often prohibitive which makes it difficult for students to complete a degree. For those who do
graduate, women―and women of color in particular―are left in crushing debt. This pillar may include:

  • Accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education
  • Workforce and basic skills training including supports
  • College affordability including financial aid

WE envision an Illinois in which:

  • Women, families, and communities benefit from economic growth and prosperity, building financial
    power that enables agency over their lives.
  • Gender and racial disparities ingrained in our society are acknowledged and intentionally dismantled.
  • A fully participatory economy that fosters inclusivity and equity is cultivated and realized by all.
  • The unique systemic obstacles encountered by immigrants, refugees, LGBTQIA+ people, justice-involved women, and women with disabilities are acknowledged and dismantled.

DAY ONE: Thursday, November 16, 2023
In Person + Livestream, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CT

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Breakfast & Registration

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Opening Session

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
State of the State:
Breakout Sessions by Pillar
*Virtual breakout sessions available for those participating virtually

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Lunch break
*Lunch provided

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Opportunities & Innovation:
Breakout Sessions by Pillar
*Virtual breakout sessions available for those participating virtually

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Day One Closing Conversation

4:30 p.m.

In Person Location: SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas
2229 S. Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608
*This location is wheelchair accessible.

Livestream & Virtual Breakout links to be sent by email.


DAY TWO: Friday, November 17, 2023
Fully Virtual, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
High-Level Recap of Day One

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Priorities: Breakout Sessions by Pillar

12:00 – 12:15 p.m.

12:15 – 2:30 p.m.
Closing Conversation & Next Steps

Virtual participation link to be sent by email.

Questions? Contact Sharmili Majmudar at [email protected].

Together, we will ensure more women, families, and communities can build their economic power and thrive.

All new or increased gifts will be matched by an anonymous donor!