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NOW New York State

 

REPORTER
A publication of National Organization
for Women - New York State, Inc.
Vol. 1, Spring/Summer 2005

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Bad News ... Good News
by Christine Hmiel, NOW-NYS, Inc. Intern

Reproductive Freedom is at grave risk. A single George W. Bush appointment could produce an anti-choice US Supreme Court. Already there are significant barriers to abortion and birth control, and we face the immediate danger of totally losing control over our own bodies. There is also rife discrimination against gay/lesbian couples and inadequate sex education in public schools. Fortunately, women living in New York encounter a somewhat stronger respect for their rights, with the State ranking fifth in this category. Certainly this is something to celebrate. So, in the interest both of history and of hope, this article reports the good along with the bad.

Feminists have been accused of ignoring the incredible victories women have already achieved. But we simply understand there is still much to be done before women can truly claim gender equality. That is why feminists recognize and celebrate triumphs but also continue to work on the many problems facing women today. Still not convinced of the battle ahead? Read on...

A recent study published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. reviews the current status of women living in the United States according to five separate indexes: political participation, employment and earnings, social and economic autonomy, reproductive rights and overall health and well-being. It is quite a feat that women are achieving better political representation and smaller wage gaps!

Vermont , Connecticut , Minnesota and Washington topped the list for states in which women enjoy the best quality of life. Why isn’t New York on that honor roll? A progressive state like ours surely should lead the way in women’s well-being! Mississippi , South Carolina , Kentucky , Arkansas , Oklahoma , Tennessee and Texas have been declared the states with the worst conditions for women and will need the support of strong feminists to help pave the way for future generations of women.

Women who are employed full-time and year-round in New York earn a median of $30,700 annually, earning only 75 cents to every dollar earned by a man for comparable work. This is up from the 59 cents of old. This ranks New York nineteenth in the overall composite index for employment and earnings. Women of color earn between 53 and 63 cents for every dollar a white male New Yorker earns. Furthermore, even in the highest ranking states, women earn less than men for comparable work (approximately 92 cents for every dollar men earn in the District of Columbia and 83 cents in Hawaii ). Also, based on data from Census 2000, New York ranks twenty-third in poverty. Other areas of concern include HIV, heart disease, and generally low health coverage rates.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research report points to the need for policies that encourage women to enroll in higher education, to run for elected office, and to start their own businesses. We need living-wage laws to reduce poverty; and welfare should provide quality education and training opportunities. Most importantly, our reproductive rights must be protected and preserved at all costs.

With all this work ahead of us, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. But remember, much progress has already been made and will continue to be made through the efforts of people like you!

Statistic Source: “Status of Women in the States,” Institute for Women’s Policy Research, November 2004.

 

 
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