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Shriver_SheShares.JPGAfter more than three years away, former First Lady of California Maria Shriver returned to Sacramento Thursday to deliver a new report on women and poverty to the governor and legislators.

Her afternoon kicked off with a discussion of the report's findings at the California Museum, attended by dozens of the capital's most powerful women, including Secretary of State Debra Bowen and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento.

Shriver emphasized that women's empowerment efforts must broaden from the "1 percent" and "talking about getting the corner office" to include the one-third of American women living in financial insecurity.

"They are looking for some help to give their family a life that's better than theirs," she said during the 45-minute conversation, part of Dewey Square Group's quarterly She Shares speaker series.

Calling on the government to get creative in how it helps women, Shriver said her work on this subject is largely influenced by her father, Sargent Shriver, who headed the War on Poverty in the 1960s. Shriver affectionately referred to him as "Daddy" as she spoke about initiatives like Head Start and low-income legal services.

When they're funded, Shriver said, "Those programs work."

Even as she spoke about raising a family, Shriver conspicuously avoided mentioning estranged husband Arnold Schwarzenegger. His name only came up once, when Shriver urged more bipartisan cooperation in the state and federal governments.

Having grown up a Kennedy, she joked, "I think the first Republican I met was Arnold."

With veteran U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman announcing his retirement earlier in the day, buzz also surrounded whether Shriver, a resident of his Los Angeles district, might enter the family business and run for his seat.

"No. Nope," she told The Bee after the event.

PHOTO: Maria Shriver meets event attendees before speaking about women and poverty at the California Museum on January 30, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Alexei Koseff



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