02/24/2011 12:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Power of Female Networks

Tonight, hundreds of pro-choice, Democratic women will gather at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C. for the 18th Annual Young Women of Achievement Awards (YWA) sponsored by the Women's Information Network (WIN). YWA celebrates the achievements of 39 women under 35 years of age--highlighting the work of the most innovative and inspirational leaders, movers, and shakers in Washington from a wide spectrum of passions: political/campaign work, the pro-choice movement, labor activists, social entrepreneurs and innovators, and women involved in the service/non-profit advocacy.

Celebrating the work of female leaders like these in a public venue like this is critical to creating a world in which young women realize they have no limits.

The Women's Information Network (WIN) is an organization born from a society where women have not historically had access to positions of power. WIN, and other organizations like it, seek to create networks of like-minded individuals that increase access for women socially, politically, and professionally.

Events like YWA and others, give women the opportunity to support other women. From informing each other of the hidden job market (it is estimated that 80% of jobs are never posted publicly), encouraging each other to demand better pay from our employers (women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs), and supporting each other as we face the trials and tribulations of succeeding in the workplace and managing a work-life balance (in 2008, two-thirds of mothers with children under the age of 6 worked outside the home)--women's networking and support organizations push us to be the best we can be.

In this tough economy, we must continue to pool our resources, remember where we came from and how we got here, and rely on each other for connections and support in a world and culture that, despite many advancements, is still greatly dominated by the "old boys club." Ultimately and as a result--we must continue to be innovative and create our own institutions of power like WIN. By sharing and celebrating the stories and accomplishments of other women, we are able to shed light on non-traditional paths to success and seemingly unreachable goals while marking the preventable mistakes made along the way.

Women must to continue to inspire each other, to mentor one an other, and grant access to as many other people as possible, in as many sectors as possible, in order to open opportunities and develop leaders far and wide.

YWA is an amazing event and one of the many ways to do just that.

WIN's Young Women of Achievement Awards will be held on Thursday, February 24, 2011, Networking Reception: 6:30 pm, Awards Ceremony: 7:30 pm at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1530 P Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005.

Many thanks to Nathan Havey, Rose Afriyie, and Maya Uppaluru for contributing insights.