Hartford IMC

2/11/2010

Got Equality? Not if you’re 51% of the population.

The new campaign slogan for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women certainly gets right to the point. And if anyone is unconvinced of their assertion, then I wish you could have attended Women’s Day at the Capital on Tuesday. Invited speakers and the public submitted testimony on Tuesday and called attention to many issues like health care, domestic violence and protection, education, employment, women in politics, and childcare. Two high school students from the Young Women’s Leadership Program essay contest also read their winning essays which focused on breaking the cycle of domestic violence and the need for more women in leadership positions.

Women’s Day was really more just like the morning which was noted by two young women sitting behind me who discussed why there wasn’t a day full of activities. Ironically, these two left a bit before noon but I internally hoped that was because they were heading over to Trinity College for their program on reproductive health “I had an illegal abortion: telling my story” at 12:15pm. These women also noted the lack of diversity in the room. True, most of the women there were white, well dressed and in 40+ age category. There were several men in attendance. The attorney general, a male photographer, the father of one essay contest winner, and two men who sat at the center table. They didn’t have the appropriate name cards so I couldn’t find out who they were. The morning must have been a bit boring for them because one left about an hour into the testimony and the other looked like he was sleeping. After studying him for a few moments I noticed that it wasn’t because he was sleeping that he was so still, it was because he was typing on his phone…possibly updating his twitter page as a call for action on these women’s issues?

When one woman noted that the medical field has historically been dominated by females as midwives and mothers and it wasn’t until you could get paid $300k a year that men started taking over, the room erupted with laughter. It wasn’t all jokes though, and Executive Director Teresa Younger took that very seriously. I internally applauded Younger when she shushed two female political leaders talking during the testimony of Dr. Stefanie Chambers, which focused on the effect the recession had on women.

Younger has every right to be tense about this day. For the second year, Governor Rell is calling for the elimination of the (Permanent) Commission on the Status of Women (which has been around for 37 years) in the state’s proposed budget. Younger fought back last year and managed to save the commission but with a 65% cut in budget which eliminated half of the staff. Community organizers presenting testimony also talked about the need to have the commission. Several years ago a women’s clinic in New London faced closure due to funding. The PCSW stepped in to provide support and saved the clinic.

Enjoy this sprinkling of statistics from the morning!

– White women make .77 cents on the dollar compared to male counterparts while African American women make .70 cents and Latina women make .62 cents.

– 56% of medical bankruptcy filers are women.

– 1 in 7 women put off their annual obgyn appointment because of cost.

– Our current state childcare licenses can only care for 40% of children under the age of 5.

– Less than 4% of women serving on state commissions and boards are women of color.

– 80% of philanthropy is given by women, but only 10% of that reaches girls.

– 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the 2nd leading cause of death for women behind lung cancer. The risk of getting the cancer is lower in African American women but are 35% more likely to die from the disease then white women because of financial barriers.

– Women spend 68% more on health care then men because of reproductive health.

Original Article