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Women’s Foundation celebrates 25th anniversary; Richardson promises paid family leave

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More than 1,500 people convened in Kansas City on Friday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Foundation, an organization that advocates for economic equality for women in Missouri and Kansas.

Among the featured speakers were former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, ABC News’ White House Correspondent Ann Compton (both pictured above), and Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson. During his speech, Richardson pledged to work on two major issues during the next legislative session: setting a “sunrise” provision in statute that could lead to the creation of a new occupational licensing board or commission and initiating paid family leave for Missouri workers – both of which would limit barriers between women and the workforce.

Speaker Todd Richardson

“It is imperative that our state removes unnecessary regulatory barriers to allow women to succeed. I know that when women succeed, our families and state succeed, too,” Richardson said in his speech. “Women already account for over $24 billion is sales in our state. Just imagine what we can do together if those barriers that hold women back are removed.”

Richardson and the majority party will essentially have the ability to pass any legislation they please in 2017 with Gov. Eric Greitens at the helm, and should Richardson prioritize these proposals, there’s a strong chance they become law in 2017.

Wendy Doyle, the president and CEO of the foundation, welcomed the announcement by Richardson. For the past year, the Women’s Foundation has undertaken a wide range of research that examined barriers to economic opportunity unique to women. Their latest research specifically examined the effects of occupational licensing and female entrepreneurship.

“Our region’s economic development hinges on our ability to remove artificial barriers to economic, civic, and professional growth for women,” Doyle said.

At last year’s luncheon, Gov. Jay Nixon announced an executive order that would support equal pay for women in the executive branch.