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Office on Women's Policy - Newsletters
Office on Women's Policy
The Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission has just released its 2014 Report to the Governor, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share it with you. This annual report examines the status of Louisiana women by evaluating their economic, education, and health issues, analyzing trends that impact women's health and prosperity, and providing policy recommendations to address the challenges women in our state face. This year the Commission took an extensive look at a diverse set of topics that included the impact of chronic disease on women, Louisiana's gender-based violence-related policies, the need to expand the number of female entrepreneurs and help more women enter the sciences and craft workforces, and opportunities to increase the number of women seeking leadership roles in state government. This year the electronic version of the report features a clickable Table of Contents, so that you can go directly to the sections of the report that most interest you.
As well as sharing this report with over 100 women's-focused organizations each year, copies of this report are sent to the Governor and to the Louisiana Legislature each year. For more information about the Commission, including upcoming meeting dates, please visit here.
Finally, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I encourage you to visit the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault's Events Page for activities commemorating this month that are happening around the state.
During the 2014 state legislative session, Act 663 created a new state Domestic Violence Prevention Commission, and charged the Commission with undertaking the following activities:
- Assist local and state leaders in developing and coordinating domestic violence programs.
- Conduct a continuing comprehensive review of all existing public and private domestic violence programs to identify gaps in prevention and intervention services and to increase coordination among public and private programs to strengthen prevention and intervention services.
- Make recommendations with respect to domestic violence prevention and intervention.
- Develop a state needs assessment and a comprehensive and integrated service delivery approach that meets the needs of all domestic violence victims.
- Establish a method to transition domestic violence service providers toward evidence-based national best practices focusing on outreach and prevention.
- Develop a plan that ensures state laws on domestic violence are properly implemented and provides training to law enforcement and the judiciary.
- Develop a framework to collect and integrate data and measure program outcomes.
The Louisiana Domestic Violence Prevention Commission has just released its first annual report, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share it with you. For more information on the La. Domestic Violence Prevention Commission, you can visit www.dcfs.la.gov/Women.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services funds 16 domestic violence service providers around the state, and works with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence to provide services and support to survivors of domestic violence and their families. To learn more, I encourage you to visit www.dcfs.la.gov/DomesticViolence and www.lcadv.org.
Women in Louisiana know a lot about hard work - of the 1.86 million women age 16 years and over in Louisiana, 56.9% were labor force participants working full- or part-time, or looking for work in 2012; 59.3% of women workers were employed full-time, year-round. Overall, women make up a steady number of the Louisiana work force and have consistently made up over 44% of the state workforce for the last several years.i
However, have you ever considered working for yourself? Starting your own business is an increasingly popular employment option in the United States; from 2005 to 2010 the percentage of people working for themselves increased from 28% to 40%, and women-owned businesses have grown at one and a half times the rate other small businesses over the last 15 years. However, even though women have a major impact on the state's economy, Louisiana ranks 47th in the nation for the number of women who are self-employed.ii
Helping more women become entrepreneurs means creating more jobs and expanding our state's economic potential. November is National Entrepreneurship Month, and I encourage you to explore the resources available at Louisiana's U.S. Small Business Association Women's Business Centers as well as resources available through the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization's Small and Veteran Business Programs to learn more about how you can start your own business. You can also access networking opportunities and resources through the state's many women's professional organizations and regional women's commissions, which are listed on the Office on Women's Policy's website under "Organizations."
i Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission 2013 Report to the Governor, p. 33
ii "Women-Owned Businesses: Carving a New American Business Landscape," Center for Women in Business, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, March 27, 2104
Domestic Violence is an issue that crosses all socio-economic boundaries, races, ages, and genders. In the United States, one in four women and one in seven men will be victims of domestic violence.i
A recent report ranked Louisiana as having the fourth highest rate of women killed by men, a figure commonly used to rank domestic violence fatality rates. 45 women were murdered by men in 2012 (the most recent year that full statistics are available), and 93% of these women were murdered by someone they knew. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 51% were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Among the female intimates who were murdered, 74% were killed with guns; 86 percent of these (12 victims) were shot and killed with handguns. Out of the 45 female homicide victims, 23 were black and 22 were white. The average age of the victims was 35 (the nationally the average age is 40).ii
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and around the state community organizations, universities, and domestic violence service providers are organizing walks, trainings, fundraisers, and other events to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence, provide resources for survivors, and support domestic violence prevention. Please visit the Office on Women's Policy web calendar to find an event near you.
If you would like to find out more about domestic violence services in your area, I encourage you to visit the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website at http://lcadv.org/.
i The National Domestic Violence Hotline, http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/, accessed September 23, 2014.
ii The Violence Policy Center, "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2012 Data," http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2014.pdf, accessed September 23, 2014.
As summer comes to a close and we begin to gear up for fall, a few news items to note:
- August is Child Support Enforcement Awareness Month, and it is important to highlight the profound positive impact child support programs have on the well-being of women and children in Louisiana. Nationally, nearly 1 in 4 children are served by this program, and 82% of custodial parents eligible to receive child support are women. Of families eligible for child support, 29% have incomes below the federal poverty level, and for these families the child support they receive constitutes about 52% of their total monthly income on average. Child support enforcement is one of the federal government's most cost-effective programs, since for every $1 spent on the program, deserving families receive $5.31 on average. In Louisiana, for every $1 spent on the child support programs, we collect $5.47!
There are several women's issue-focused events coming up in September:
- The Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission's next meeting will be held on Thursday, September 4, and will feature speakers discussing the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy and Louisiana's new Jump Start career education program. The meeting notice can be found here.
- The state's new Domestic Violence Prevention Commission is holding its first meeting on Friday, September 19. For more information about this new commission, click here.
- There is still time to sign up for the Louisiana Women Leaders Business Conference, organized by the Louisiana Center for Women in Government & Business. Click here for more information.
As always, for a full list of upcoming events around the state, please visit the Office on Women's Policy event calendar. Feel free to submit public events in your area to the calendar!
The 2014 state legislative session recently concluded, and with it came the passage of many new laws that have the potential to positively impact the lives of women and girls in Louisiana. Among the laws passed were a variety of laws to combat domestic violence and human trafficking:
In addition, several policy recommendations from the Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission 2013 Report to the Governor that addressed the needs of female inmates, women's education issues, and several gender-based violence topics led to House Concurrent Resolutions that passed through the legislature HCR 34, 135, 136, 156, 204, and one bill, HB 1122 by Rep. Pat Smith, was passed and signed by the Governor and is now Act 355; it will provide additional legal protections for stalking victims.
As the Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission begins work on its 2014 report, you are invited to attend their next meeting on July 7. This meeting will focus on ways Louisiana can encourage more women to become entrepreneurs, and will feature speakers from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the University of Louisiana System, and Women's Business Enterprise South. The Commission values the participation and input it receives from community stakeholders as it works to construct policy recommendations, and community members are always welcome at Commission meetings.
The Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission 2013 Report to the Governor has just been released, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share it with you. This annual report examines the status of Louisiana women by evaluating their economic, education, and health issues, analyzing trends that impact women's health and prosperity, and providing policy recommendations to address the challenges women in our state face. This year the Commission took an extensive look at a diverse set of topics that included the impact of chronic disease on women, Louisiana's gender-based violence-related policies, the need to help more women enter the sciences and pursue craft jobs, and incarcerated women's medical and job skills training needs.
In an effort to empower readers, the Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission 2013 Report to the Governor also includes resource information in its appendices. There is information on how to access health safety-net services in Louisiana to help readers become more engaged in maintaining their health. There is also information on regional women's commissions, and on programs around the state that help educate girls about the sciences. The Commission's hope is that readers can use the information on regional women's commissions and existing science-focused programs for girls to become more engaged with positive, women-focused activities in their communities, and that existing organizations can also serve as templates for readers interested in starting new organizations in their own communities.
As well as sharing this report with over 100 women's-focused organizations each year, copies of this report are sent to the Governor and to the Louisiana Legislature annually. More information on the Louisiana Women's Policy & Research Commission and the Office on Women's Policy can also be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/Women.
Gender-based violence is an issue that affects the health and well-being of our communities, and finding ways to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, teen dating violence and stalking have been a major focus in Louisiana in the last year. As part of Louisiana's continued efforts to prevent gender-based violence, Senate Resolution 95 by Senator Walsworth and House Resolution 76 by Representative Schroder, introduced during the 2013 Legislative Session, requested that the Department of Children and Family Services collaborate with stakeholders to study and develop a comprehensive statewide plan for the delivery of domestic violence services. More specifically, the study group was charged with examining the following issues:
- Development of a state needs assessment and a comprehensive and integrated service delivery approach that meets the needs of all domestic violence victims.
- Establishment of a method to transition domestic violence service providers towards evidence-based national best practices focusing on outreach and prevention.
- Development of a plan that ensures that Louisiana laws on domestic violence are being properly implemented and provides for training on domestic violence and its many dimensions to law enforcement and the judiciary.
- Development of a framework to collect and integrate data and measure program outcomes.
On January 15, 2014, the Domestic Violence Study Group released its report, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share it with you. For more information on the Domestic Violence Study Group, you can visit www.dcfs.la.gov/Women.
February is national Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. In a recent nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.4% of high school students reported being "hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose" by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the last 12 months, and about "1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age." i learn more about resources for teens experiencing dating violence and to find out how you can help spread awareness, I encourage you to visit http://www.teendvmonth.org/.
i Teen Dating Violence," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html, accessed February 3, 2014
November marks National Family Caregivers Month, so as we gear up for Thanksgiving, why not take a moment to give thanks to all the caregivers in our lives? According to a recent report, 65% of family caregivers in the US are women, and on average they spend nearly 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to a parent.i The economic value of family caregiving was $450 billion in 2009 nationally. To put this in perspective, that is
- More than total Medicaid spending in 2009, including both federal and state contributions for both health care and long-term services and supports ($361 billion)
- As much as the total sales of the world's largest companies, including Wal-Mart ($408 billion in 2009, the most of any company) and the three largest publicly held auto companies combined (Toyota, Ford, Daimler: total $439 billion)
- Almost $1,500 for every person in the United States (307 million people as of July 1, 2009)ii
Also, even though October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, there are many ways we can continue to educate ourselves around gender-based violence issues. The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV) and the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LaFASA) have co-sponsored the 10th annual statewide conference on Sexual Assault & Family Violence, which will be held December 11-13. For more information, visit http://www.lafasa.org/safvconference.html. To find out about other gender-based violence trainings and events around the state, you can visit LCADV's events calendar at http://lcadv.org/calendar-of-events/.
Finally, I encourage you to visit the Office on Women's Policy web site (www.dcfs.la.gov/Women) for further resources, and for information about upcoming women-focused events around the state.
i "Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving," AARP, http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/ltc/i51-caregiving.pdf, accessed June 5, 2013, at 2:38 pm.
President John F. Kennedy once said that "physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity." September is a month set to commemorate many key women's and family health issues: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Fruit and Veggies - More Matters Month, National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, Baby Safety Awareness Month, Healthy Aging Month, and National Women's Health and Fitness Day (Sep. 29). Some interesting facts on women's and family health:
- Louisiana falls in the category with the lowest rates of ovarian cancer, as well as the lowest deaths from ovarian cancer, in the nation. However, ovarian cancer can be difficult to detect; learn about the symptoms and risk factors for ovarian cancer.
- Eating more fruit and vegetables is a great way to stay healthy, and health practitioners encourage us to fill half of our plates with fruit and vegetables. Visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for helpful recipes and tips to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet today. To find a local farmers market near you, check out this list.
- The Birth Outcomes Initiative is a targeted cross-departmental and cross-sector initiative to improve the outcomes of Louisiana's births and health of Louisiana's moms and babies. Visit DHH's website to learn more.
- The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals offers a variety of services for families and children, varying from physical fitness programs and behavioral health options to maternal and child health programs. For a list, visit here.
Take a moment today to learn more about how you can help Louisiana women stay healthy - let's get active! Also, I encourage you to visit the Office on Women's Policy website (www.dcfs.la.gov/Women) for further resources, and for information about upcoming women-focused events around the state.