Statewide Women's Policy Conference has big turnout Friday

State and local leaders joined hundreds of women Friday for the Statewide Women's Policy Conference. (Image: WTVC)

There is a major event going on right now in downtown Chattanooga that could have big impact on the future of women in Tennessee.

Women from across the state, of all ages and walks of life, came together to talk about issues women face today and how they can help impact change.

"One person can make a difference," Brenda Freeman Short said.

Now, hundreds will try at the Statewide Women's Policy Conference at the Westin Hotel.

This comes after the Institute for Women's Policy Research released the state's report card on the status of women.

Tennessee scored a D or D- in political participation, work and family, poverty and opportunity, reproductive rights, and health and well-being.

The only area the state scored better was employment and earnings, where the state still only scored a C-.

Dr. Carol Berz sits on the city council and is the co-chair for the Mayor's Council for Women.

She says changing policies that work against women will improve those scores, but women also have to be bigger part of the solution.

"Women haven't taken enough responsibility to run for office, to speak out, to stand up for what needs to happen in order for women to be economically self-sufficient and self-sustaining," Berz said.

The goal to empower women comes after a year that saw countless sexual harassment and abuse allegations in politics, sports, and in Hollywood.

"I think women sometimes have been afraid to talk about it, it's embarrassing or they think people won't understand," Short said.

Short says that will certainly be discussed at the conference.

For others attending, it's a chance to talk, and to listen.

"To give other girls and women motivation to tell their story and to have faith and know they're not alone," Kymora Kirk said.

And though everyone will take something different away from the convention, Berz says there is one thing she wants everyone to take away from it.

"We are powerful. We can do it," Berz said.

State Representative JoAnne Favors and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke were also in attendance.

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