On Wednesday night, about 70 women gathered at West Philadelphia's School for the Future for the formal presentation of "The State of Women and Girls in Philadelphia," the first report from the year-old Philadelphia Commission for Women. Philadelphia is the 32nd city to have a women's commission.
Executive director Jovida Hill says the intent of this report is to establish a baseline of information about where things stand for women in the city. "This is a beginning and not an end," Hill stressed by phone on Thursday afternoon. "It is not a be all and end all in terms of the state of women and girls in Philadelphia. It's a snapshot."
For its second year, the commission plans to focus on economic empowerment for women.
"When you're looking at what we do in Philadelphia for women, pay equity is an important issue," Hill said. "Raising the minimum wage is an important issue. Access to capital for entrepreneurs is an important issue."
The mood at the meeting was upbeat. More than once, Hill cheerfully invoked the famous Hillary Clinton quote, "Women's rights are human rights."
But the 40-page report is brimming with sobering statistics about how much work Philadelphia needs to do to achieve gender equality. It's impossible not to focus on the damning facts that underscore what many women already know: In Philadelphia, women are still under-represented in business and government, and there are pressing health-care issues, especially related to pregnancy and childbirth.
It's hard to read it without getting angry.
"It was not our intent for this report to be depressing," Hill said. "Last week, we got the bad news that Philadelphia is one of the poorest big cities. [We also know that] 60 percent of children under 18 are living in female-headed households. I would surmise that means there are a whole lot of women who are living in poverty in the city of Philadelphia if you connect the dots."
Connecting the dots is important, but so is the stark reality of statistics. Below, a sampling of some of the grimmest facts and figures from the commission's report.