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Women's Empowerment Icons Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Pill

NEW YORK, May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Pill, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals is collaborating with some of the most influential female empowerment figures to reflect on the remarkable achievements of women since the introduction of the first birth control pill in 1960.  Icons including two-time Academy Award winning actress Hilary Swank; American feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem; historian and author of the newly published book, America and The Pill, Elaine Tyler May; founder and owner of Dermalogica Jane Wurwand; and notable professor and ObGyn Diana Ramos, MD, came together today during an intimate roundtable luncheon to share their unique insights about this medical and cultural landmark.

The company also launched today a program website,, which pays tribute to women's history and possibilities for the next half-century.  

"1960 marked a liberating milestone for women because they were at last able to separate sexuality from reproduction," said Gloria Steinem. "For the first time, women had access to an effective and discreet form of contraception, and control over their reproductive health." 

"I am so fortunate to have a mother who told me that I could do anything I dreamed of," said Hilary Swank. "That's why I'm helping to pay tribute to this milestone in women's history. I believe you can achieve anything that you set your mind to."

A cornerstone of the campaign is the "Make Your Mark" contest, an online initiative which encourages women to achieve their goals, and provides three women with a chance to win a $5,000 grant.  Contest winners and other select participants will also be photographed by legendary portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.  Their photos and stories will be showcased in an online collection which will be unveiled later this year. To learn more about the contest, and to join in a dialogue about the remarkable history of the Pill in America, visit

Visitors to the campaign website can also give others the chance to achieve their dreams by taking the 50th Anniversary Pledge of Empowerment.  For each pledge received (up to 50,000), Bayer will donate $1 to Step Up Women's Network, a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to connecting and advancing young women.  

"Fostering dialogue is a focus of our work, and we are honored to be part of this national conversation celebrating women's achievements over time," said Jenni Luke, Executive Director of Step Up Women's Network. "The Pledge of Empowerment program will help us continue to provide women with the education, mentorship and opportunities they need to achieve success over the next 50 years and beyond."

"Bayer HealthCare is proud to be celebrating this medical and cultural landmark," said Stefan Oelrich, Vice President and General Manager, Women's Healthcare, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.  "Tremendous strides have been made over the past five decades, and we are excited that this is just the beginning.  Bayer has a rich heritage of commitment to women's reproductive healthcare and is investing and innovating on all fronts in the contraceptive arena."

Fifty Years of Progression

The dynamic of today's workforce, academic institutions and families has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Pill.  As of 2009, women represented half of all U.S. workers and are the primary or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families, according to The Shriver Report, a landmark study conducted by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. This is a dramatic shift from just a generation ago, when women made up only one-third of all U.S. workers.(1)

Further, as a result of not having to shoulder all the economic demands of the family, men have been allowed to become more involved fathers than ever before. A 2008 study conducted by the Families and Work Institute found that fathers spend significantly more time with their children today than they did three decades ago.(2)

About Step Up Women's Network

Step Up Women's Network is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to connecting and advancing women.  By bridging communities of professional women through mentorship, networking and advancement, we ensure they have the opportunities they need to create a better future.  Connect with us at

About Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the U.S.-based pharmaceuticals operation of Bayer HealthCare, an affiliate of Bayer AG.  One of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry, Bayer HealthCare combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions.  In the United States, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals comprises the following business units: Women's Healthcare, Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Hematology/Neurology, and Oncology.  The company's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human health worldwide by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.

BAYER® and the Bayer Cross® are trademarks of Bayer. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

(1)  The Shriver Report.  Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress.  2009.

(2)  2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce. The Families and Work Institute.

SOURCE Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals
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