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You make change happen

"Changing the universe through women's stories" is an ambitious goal. This tagline sounded audacious even to us when we took it on a few years ago. But after nearly 30 years of sharing women's stories through the Women's Press pages, we've learned that change happens in small and big ways, in widespread arenas and on smaller stages through personal interactions. Sometimes it happens slowly, other times incredibly fast.

Sheryl Sandberg's best-selling book "Lean In" took off like wildfire in 2013. In spite of being critiqued by many as nothing new, not calling institutions to task enough, Sandberg gave a renewed voice to the feminist call for women to work for gender equality, especially in the workplace. She challenges women to imagine what they would do if they were not afraid - and then do it. Inspired by her book, thousands of Lean In circles have formed in the past year, including several in Minnesota. This must get us closer to the goal of "The Millionth Circle" that Jean Shinoda Bolen wrote about in 1999 - that tipping point when the world would shift toward more equality and fairness.

Each year in our December issue we honor Minnesota women and men Changemakers who have worked to make positive change for women or girls. Like Sandberg, working in their own spheres, they are leaning in on their own lives and leaning on our institutions to make change.

Minnesota gets a B+ in the recently issued report, "The State of Women in America," by the Center for American Progress. Our state ranks 11th overall, coming in ninth in leadership with 33.3 percent of our Legislature being women. We're sixth best in health with a mortality rate of 5 deaths per 100,000 live births, but we have no policy for paid family, medical or temporary disability leave.

The wage gap in Minnesota is smaller, with women earning 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man, compared with 77 cents nationally. The poverty rate for women and girls overall in Minnesota is the sixth lowest in the country at 12 percent, but for African American women it's 39 percent; for Hispanics, 28 percent; Asian-Americans, 16 percent, and Native Americans, 35 percent.

There's some pride in Minnesota being a B+ state - but really? Should we be celebrating the fact that we are one of the best in the nation for women in elected office and our Legislature is only 33 percent women? Can we be satisfied with such economic and racial disparities?

Much more change is needed.

In this issue we honor those who are making that change, like those who worked together for the passage of marriage equality legislation. Minnesotans United for All Families, OutFront Minnesota and Project 515 were among the organizations that reached across all kinds of perceived barriers to tell personal stories and build coalitions.

We also honor the Men as Peacemakers organization for their Girls Restorative Program in Duluth that reaches out to girls at risk. We know that it takes women and men working together to make the world better for all.

Other Changemakers in this issue are Hollaback!, Fight Like a Girl, the World of Women Poetry Slam, a jazz workshop for girls and a new children's book about a mother's breast cancer. You'll also find efforts to help women veterans, honoring current "firsts" for women and the showcasing of a legendary Minnesota activist.

We give our 2013 Changemakers an A+.

Coming up:
"New views" is our focus in January, 2014. When did seeing another side of something surprise you? Tell us about it.
Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Dec. 10, 2013

January, 2014, advertising sections:
• Camp & Activity Guide
• Education & Lifelong Learning Guide
• Girlfriends' Guide to the New Year
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: Dec. 10, 2013

February's theme is "Locked in, locked up, locked out." When have you been in a cage but the door was open? Tell us about it. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Jan. 10, 2014
February, 2014, Advertising Sections:
• Health Guide
• Women & Pets Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: Jan. 10, 2014


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