The underdog for change and equality for women in the city of Phoenix is gaining momentum after bearing pushbacks from COVID-19.
The Phoenix Women’s Commission actively works to review the city’s diversity efforts, salary equity and serves as an advisory board to the council, the city’s website states. Collectively, these women discuss and prioritize the problems of the women and how they relate to the city. Based on these results, the Commission then recommends solutions, develops goals and executes projects.
The Commission hit a block in the road at the onset of COVID-19 and is now working diligently to bring events back into the public eye in a safe way, Chair of the Phoenix Women’s Commission Allison Otu said.
A survey was launched by the Commission to the public to see how COVID-19 impacted the community, Otu said. After the Commission received the results, a webinar was held to discuss ways to persevere through the challenges.
Otu says the webinar was used as a way to build a connection point with the community about how not to bounce back but to bounce forward. Otu recognizes that COVID-19 hit women particularly hard but it gives the Commission “the opportunity to discuss and look at unique issues and challenges that face our community.”
Maria Bailey-Benson, member of the Phoenix Women’s Commission and residential faculty at South Mountain Community College, said the COVID-19 workshop was one of the most attended webinars that gave women in the community various resources and techniques to mentally heal.
With COVID-19 settling down, both Bailey-Benson and Otu are looking forward to the Spring of 2022 with the hopes of hosting their annual Women’s Economic Forum after canceling it for the past two years.
Bailey-Benson describes the event as “phenomenal” and the reason why she joined the Phoenix Women’s Commission in the first place. After leaving the forum she wanted to make things better instead of complaining about them.
The Phoenix Women’s Commission allowed her to do just that.
“I don’t know if the Women’s Commission is shaping me. I feel like I am shaping the Women’s Commission,” Bailey-Benson said as she believes she brings a different perspective, offering something that women in the community might look to.
“We really have a diverse group of women at every level. Diversity of age, industry, backgrounds and race,” Otu said. “When we are thinking about putting on these events, we have a nice cross section of different ideas and perspectives.”
To continue the momentum between the Commission and the public, a webinar was held Friday Oct., 1 that covered the tools needed for effective resilience in combating the mental effects from COVID-19, a press release from the City of Phoenix said.
“This is an invitation for young women to get more involved,” Otu said.
Both Bailey-Benson and Otu are impressed with the passion and drive of the women in the generations below them.
“Younger women are thinking left, right, up and down in ways that I’ve never thought of in terms of advocacy and thinking about the community as a whole,” Otu said.
Bailey-Benson says she would love to see the formation of a possible sub-committee of the Women’s Commission constructed of younger women to expand who the Commission reaches.
The Phoenix Women’s Commission works to be a prominent voice for women of all ages in the community.
Editor’s Note: Peyton Tovey is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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