The mission of the Commission is to advance women toward full equality in all areas of life and to promote rights and opportunities for all women. The Commission exists to provide a permanent, effective voice for women across Massachusetts.
The Commission stands for fundamental freedoms, basic human rights and the full enjoyment of life for all women throughout their lives.
The Commission is empowered to:
- Study, review and report on the status of women in the Commonwealth;
- Advise executive and legislative bodies on the effect of proposed legislation on women;
- Inform leaders of business, education, health care, state and local governments and the communications media of issues pertaining to women;
- Provide referrals and serve as a resource of information on issues pertaining to women;
- Identify and recommend qualified women for positions at all levels of government;
- Promote and facilitate collaboration among local women's commissions and among women’s organizations in the state;
- Serve as a liaison between government and private interest groups concerned with issues affecting women;
- Assess programs and practices in all state agencies as they affect women
The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women was legislatively created in May 1998 and became operational in early 1999. The legislation was inspired by the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held September 1995 in Beijing, China. The result of this conference, The Beijing Platform for Action, in addition to many other things, directed state governments to "form and adequately fund Women’s Commissions in all states and territories where they do not already exist."
Massachusetts’ delegates to the Beijing Conference, including then Massachusetts First Lady Susan Roosevelt Weld, returned determined that Massachusetts would have its own Women’s Commission. Their passion and commitment led to the creation of a coalition of dedicated women that met regularly over the course of several years to bring this dream to fruition. Ultimately, with the help of many, particularly state legislators, they were able to fashion a unique and model Commission – with appointing authority shared by the Executive and Legislative branches.
When the Commission was created, it was funded by a line item in the state budget.