Shaping public policy to create equitable opportunity for women.

It is not enough for us to invest solely in programmatic solutions to accelerate economic opportunity for women. Without meaningful change in systems, women and their families will never have a complete pathway to success. This is why we advocate for nonpartisan policies that break down barriers.

In the last two decades, we have invested over $5 million in innovative solutions that accelerate economic opportunities for women and their whole families. These investments have transformed the lives of over 5,100 women and their children.

Yet too many women and their families continue to experience complex social conditions that philanthropy alone cannot address.

In order to have a more holistic impact, we formally engage in state-level advocacy and intentionally pursue public policies that create long-lasting, systemic change for women.

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Our Policy Priorities

The Agenda for Women

More than 490,000 women are living in poverty in Alabama. That’s more than the populations of Birmingham and Mobile combined.

Simultaneously, the Alabama Workforce Council predicts a shortage of 500,000 skilled workers by 2025. When considered together, these two statistics speak not only to a problem, but also to a solution that centers women as a key driver of their family’s economic success and meets the demand of the state’s growing workforce shortage.

By applying a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses the state’s workforce crisis, but concurrently moves people beyond poverty, The Women’s Fund is strategically positioned to help shift this paradigm.

The 2020 Agenda for Women includes the following top priorities:

We will also actively monitor and intervene on additional issues during the regular legislative session that significantly impact the economic security of women.

For a better future for all Alabamians, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham encourages all state and local decision makers, community leaders, employers, and voters to galvanize around smart solutions proposed in our Agenda for Women to strengthen and create economic opportunities for all families across Alabama.

Ensure a Gender-Inclusive Workforce and Economy


When more women participate in the workforce, wages for women and men increase. Alabama cannot maximize its economic growth without full participation of numerous targeted groups, including women. We advocate alignment of the state’s workforce development structures, public investment, and scaling of proven models—including education, training, and critical wraparound supports—that propel more women into in-demand jobs, including health care, manufacturing, and IT. Such opportunities both bolster economic stability for families and simultaneously address the state’s workforce challenges.

Additionally, we advocate for equitable wages and family-friendly workplace supports including access to affordable, quality child care, that put women squarely in the driver’s seat of their own economic success.

2020 Priorities:

  • Invest in and scale proven post-secondary models, created and incubated by The Women’s Fund and community colleges in the Greater Birmingham area, which include training and critical wraparound supports that propel more women into in-demand jobs, including health care, manufacturing, and IT.
  • Advocate for equitable wages because the wage gap in Alabama leaves women and their families with less money to save, invest for the future, and spend on local goods and services.
  • Increase affordability and accessibility of quality child care to ensure women don’t have to choose between being a good parent or a good employee.
Data Snapshot

Women and the Workforce

  • Bringing Alabama’s labor participation rate for women to the national average would add up to 80,000 women to the workforce. Currently, Alabama has the second-lowest labor participation in the U.S.
  • Alabama women earn 76 cents for every dollar earned by a man, the 8th worst gender wage gap in the country
  • If employed women were paid the same as comparable men, their poverty rate would be reduced by half.
  • The gender wage gap adds up to $13.3 billion a year—money not invested back into Alabama’s economy.
  • Sixty-five percent of children under the age of six have all available parents in the workforce, making access to quality child care essential for women’s full participation in the labor market.

Invest in Maternal Health, Expand Affordable Health Care


Physical and mental health greatly impact a family’s ability to succeed and better health outcomes for women lead to better health outcomes for their children. Furthermore, the health of mothers and infants are a clear indicator of how social and economic systems are thriving.

2020 Priorities:

  • Invest in maternal health. We support fully funding the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) to address Alabama’s maternal death rate, the second highest in the nation.
  • Through public policy provisions, provide reasonable accommodations for workers throughout their pregnancy, childbirth, or other pregnancy-related medical conditions, a critical step towards reducing poor health outcomes for both mothers and their children.
  • Expand affordable health care. Expanding Medicaid would provide health insurance for an additional 152,000 Alabama women leading to better health outcomes for women and thereby better health outcomes for their children.
Data Snapshot

Women and Heath Care

  • States that have expanded Medicaid have shown reduced maternal deaths and infant mortality due to the increased number of insured women, leading to healthier babies and mothers.
  • 51% of Alabama births are covered by Medicaid, a health insurance program that serves roughly 1 million low-income Alabamians (children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled).
  • Medicaid expansion-related economic activity would generate $446 million in state tax revenues over four years. New local tax revenues would total $270 million over four years.
  • Alabama has the third-highest maternal death rate in the nation. In 2018, there were 36.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 related to childbirth and pregnancy and Black mothers are nearly four times more likely to die during childbirth and pregnancy than white mothers.*
  • 12.5% of Alabama babies are born preterm. On average, each premature/low birth weight baby costs employers and employees an additional $58,917 in newborn and maternal health care costs.

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