In the Community

Ignite Newsletter - March 2024

March 08, 2024

March 2024

Dear WFM friends and supporters,

As the Women’s Foundation of Montana marks International Women's Day, I want to express my gratitude for your support and dedication to advancing gender equity in Montana.

Your commitment has been instrumental in our collective efforts to stand for the rights and empowerment of all women in our state.

I am proud to share with you an op-ed printed this week in the Billings Gazette, Daily Inter Lake, Helena Independent Record, Missoula Currant, Philanthropy News Digest, and Whitefish Pilot, that captures the essence of WFM’s mission, the strides we've made together, and the work ahead of us. Thank you for your generosity and passion for the work of building a more just and equitable Montana


Kylie Gursky
WFM Program Officer

WFM - International Women's Day Op-Ed

Celebrating our 25th Anniversary

March 8 is International Women’s Day. It is a time to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and mark a call to action to accelerate women’s equality.

This day is particularly important for us at the Women’s Foundation of Montana as our work focuses on providing individuals across the state with the tools and opportunity to build a life and shape a future for themselves that isn’t held back by their gender.

This year marks our 25th Anniversary. As we look back on the past 25 years of our work and the lives of women then and now, it is no surprise that women face different challenges than they did decades ago.

In some ways, the lives of women are significantly better. Since 1999, Montana passed laws better protecting women who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, even ensuring they are entitled to unemployment benefits if a victim had to leave work because of crimes committed against them. Advocates fought to protect the rights of mothers to nurse their babies in public and required that employers provide privacy during the workday if they need to pump. Montana removed offensive terms referring to women from state lands. In 2010, voters approved a rate cap on payday loans, an industry where single moms are overrepresented as customers. We came together to expand Medicaid in Montana which increased access to prenatal and postpartum care for women. And in 2023, Montana policymakers invested $14 million to help make childcare more affordable for families.

However, in recent years, we have experienced events that heightened the inequalities that women face and even set us back at home and in the workplace. In 2024, women should be equal to men in every part of society, and yet, we are still held back in many aspects of life.

We have work to do.

More women in Montana need access to paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Families need more access to quality, affordable childcare. We need to address the gender pay gap by increasing wages in women-dominant sectors and increasing women’s participation in higher-paying professions. We need to continue to protect access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion. We need to address the serious health disparities Indigenous women face when they become mothers.

While the work that needs to be done can feel overwhelming, there are incredible organizations and leaders around the state working to better the lives of women. WFM is proud to witness this dedication to a brighter future and is proud to fund many of these organizations.

As we acknowledge a day like International Women’s Day, it might feel complicated to celebrate. However, I have hope for brighter years ahead.

The Montana I know is filled with women who do the hard work of caring for their families, neighbors, and communities every single day. The Montana I know values the gifts residents bring to our state regardless of their gender.

It’s time to bring women back together to make our collective voices heard. When elected leaders and community members hear directly from women, especially those with diverse perspectives often not heard in the media or the halls of government, attitudes, and opinions change.

I ask all fellow Montanans to deepen your commitment to the role of women in our state. Make a special effort to frequently support women-owned businesses. Channel your charitable dollars to women-led nonprofits working to make the future brighter for the women and girls in our state. And support women as they step into leadership positions in local and state government.

Every corner of Montana will benefit when we all can experience and learn from the gifts, talents, and leadership of women.

WFM is a powerful force for philanthropy in Montana because of your support. WFM grantees lead the way in creating strong communities that work for women and girls.

Learn more about WFM grantees here and see our 2023 funding summary.

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