Celebrating MCSW’s Past, Present, and Future

This featured guest piece is an excerpt of our December 2023 newsletter.

Dear Colleagues:

Just one year ago I had the privilege to address you as your newly re-elected Chair of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) – and my, how the time has flown. What a year it’s been!

This year, we turned 25, and it has given me great cause to reflect on our past, present, and future. It’s hard to imagine a world without a Commission dedicated solely to advancing the rights of women, children, and families across the Commonwealth – the MCSW is an independent state agency that was legislatively created in 1998 to provide a permanent and effective voice for ALL women and girls.

Our enacting legislation was inspired by the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women, held in September 1995 in Beijing, China. Massachusetts’ delegates to the Conference, including then Massachusetts First Lady Susan Roosevelt Weld, returned determined that our state would have its own Women’s Commission. This led to the creation of a coalition of dedicated women and brought this dream to fruition. We will be forever grateful for not only their passion and commitment, but for that of all the women that took on the charge, and served on the Commission since its inception.

In June, we celebrated our 25th anniversary with not only a beautiful gala celebration – but also throughout this past year with our words, our organizing, our actions, and most importantly YOUR actions.

In 2023 alone, with a fully seated 19-person State Commission (for the first time in more than 3 years!), 11 Regional Commissions, rebuilding their local advocacy efforts after years of COVID community impacts, a growing MCSW staff and countless coalition partners, together we accomplished:

  • Our Girls Empowerment Leadership Initiative (GELI), which saw more than 100 young people join for our inaugural in-person Summit from all corners of the state. Join us again in 2024. 
  • Public hearings that engaged hundreds of women on a variety of key legislative and community issues that matter most to them on a local basis. Register now for our first virtual hearing of 2024, centered learning more about housing across the Commonwealth.  
  • More than 300 people participating in our 2023 Advocacy Day, featuring a keynote address from one of MCSW’s appointing authorities, Governor Healey. Watch the recap here.  
  • As a result of hosting community conversations and surveying people across the state, the MCSW released our inaugural LGBTQ research report. Read the report here.  
  • Proud support of Massachusetts as the first state in the nation to have two women in the corner office, and the progress that is moving quickly on a wide variety of policy concerns we have been prioritizing for years. Learn more about our 2023-2024 Legislative priorities and how you can get involved. 

For more than 25 years now, I am proud to say that the Commission and our regional bodies have worked to advance the rights and opportunities of all women and girls across Massachusetts, regardless of age, race, color, creed, abilities, language, socio-economic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, or gender assigned at birth. 

We wouldn’t be here without the trailblazing heroines who have come before – and the MCSW will be here every step of the way to sustain the progress we’ve made – and fight for even more – in the years to come.  We couldn’t do this work without each and every one of you.   

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a Happy New Year, 

Dr. Sarah Glenn-Smith  

MCSW Chairwoman