Reynolds Brown makes case for permanent Commission For Women in Philly

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 Councilwoman at large Blondell Reynolds Brown leading the charge today at city hall for the adoption of a Commission for Women in the May 19 Primary election. Reynolds Brown said the commission would promote civic, education and economic policies for women. (Steve Trader/WHYY)

Councilwoman at large Blondell Reynolds Brown leading the charge today at city hall for the adoption of a Commission for Women in the May 19 Primary election. Reynolds Brown said the commission would promote civic, education and economic policies for women. (Steve Trader/WHYY)

A group of supporters led by councilwoman-at-large Blondell Reynolds Brown gathered in City Hall’s council chambers Thursday morning to make one last push for Philadelphia voters to adopt a permanent Commission For Women in the May 19th primary.

The commission would address civic, education and economic issues facing women in the city.

“Given the still very tangible inequities that exist for women and men, I’m of the view that we now need to have a department in government that consistently, intentionally focuses on how we level the playing field for women in particular,” said Reynolds Brown.

Equal pay and increased female membership on corporate boards are just a few of the concerns she said the commission would address, should voters approve it Tuesday.

She said women in the region occupy about 17 percent of the seats on corporate boards — women of color less than one percent — despite making up 52 percent of the population.

Worse yet, she said 14 years ago, women made 75 cents for every dollar a man made. Fourteen years later, women make 77 cents for every dollar.

“So we’ve gone up two cents in 14 years,” scoffed Reynolds Brown. “At that rate, my 18-year-old daughter will be 75 years old [when it evens out].”

She was optimistic that having a fixture in government focused on those disparities, and others, would bring change.

“One thing we’ve learned by way of research is that where you have some women commissions in government, you have far more many women in positions of leadership and responsibility,” said Reynold Brown. “We know when women do well, families do better and that builds stronger communities.”

Commissions for women have existed here before by executive order, but disband when a mayor leaves office. Changing Philadephia’s City Charter making it permanent requires a public vote.

The next mayor would appoint 10 members, and each council member will choose one, making it a 27-member commission, all women.

Reynolds Brown said 31 other cities currently have similar permanent commissions.”If we’re a world class city, it behooves us to be a thought leader when it comes to women’s issues,” she said.

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