The Day, April 3, 2012

By Lee Howard

State ranked No. 1 by website for pay, health, education

Connecticut women rank first in the nation when it comes to such issues as pay, parental leave laws, child care assistance and access to health care and education, according to an online analysis trumpeted Monday by leading politicians around the state.

“For women, the quality of life is pretty good in the state of Connecticut,” said state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford.

Teresa C. Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said in a phone interview that an analysis by the website iVillage concluded that Connecticut – taking in a wide range of factors – was the best state in America for women to work and live in.

“These days, there’s so much to be upset about, but we say let’s take pride in our state,” Younger said. “It’s not a fluke. We have a history of building collaborations.”

Younger said the state’s commission on women, the first in the nation and one of the few left in America as the budget ax falls on such programs across the country, is one of the reasons why Connecticut ranks so high. She said the organization, which saw a 65 percent cut in its budget three years ago, helps generate interest in causes important to women – such as the nation’s first family-leave law and the sick-leave bill passed during last year’s legislative session.

Still, Younger said, the state needs to see more progress on some issues, specifically related to the cost of child care and the wages that women earn compared to their male counterparts. While the median female salary in Connecticut is a hefty $46,000, she said this is only 76 cents for every dollar a typical man makes, a lower amount than the national average.

“We still have a long way to go,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who appeared at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to announce the findings, said Connecticut leads the country by example during this time of “constant and relentless attacks on the rights of women” – a time when he said he intends to fight for a stronger Violence Against Women Act.

“This rating should be a call to action, not a cause for complacency,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “This information is encouraging but recalls as well the work left to do.”

On the plus side, advocates said the data from iVillage – a leading online community for women – showed that more than 90 percent of the 1.8 million females in the state have health care coverage. Women in Connecticut also are among the most highly educated in the nation, with more than a third having earned four-year college degrees.

The state earns high grades in terms of support for domestic-abuse victims and resources for reproductive health care.

Women’s advocate Younger said she has never before seen an analysis pulling from such a rich variety of sources related to women’s issues. The full analysis is available at www.ivillage.com/best-worst-states-women-health-economy-education-and-more/8-a-439774.

Connecticut ranks No. 9 in the country in terms of the percentage of female politicians being elected to the General Assembly. Two of the legislature’s major committees, Appropriations and Finance, are headed by women, and Connecticut was the first state to elect a female governor, Ella T. Grasso, on her own merits.

“Connecticut women have never been shy,” Younger said.

Original Article