VT LG hosts discussion on women’s economic status

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The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day this week is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World”. A discussion on the economic well-being of Vermont women looked at the data and policy changes experts say to close the gender gap.

Lieutenant Governor of Vermont Molly Gray is serving her first term and is hosting a series of talks with voters and stakeholders from across the state on focused issues. Her last Seat at the Table discussion focused on the economic well-being of Vermont women and was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day. Gray, a Democrat, says that while the global event recognizes the social, cultural, political and economic achievements of women, it also highlights the need to bridge the gender gaps in Vermont.

“I actually want to build on some of the data that we know of,” Gray said. “We know that in November, 73% of unemployment claims were filed by women in Vermont. That’s the highest percentage of claims filed by women in any state in the country. So today. hui, we’re going to dive into the data and the impact on women.

The executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women, Cary Brown, said COVID-19 exposes and exacerbates the entrenched inequalities facing the state legislature.

“The COVID relief money that comes from the federal government provides Vermont with an opportunity to strategically think about how to use this money to benefit working families and working parents in particular,” Brown said. “Child care is the other thing. We know the legislature is working hard on this file right now. The help our child care system needs is deep and spectacular. And then family leaves and paid medical bills is another.There are currently a number of bills in the state legislature.

Change the Story VT has been collecting and reporting specific data in Vermont for the past six years. Executive Director Jessica Nordhaus said they are also using some national data and recent reports of interest focus on the gender pay gap.

“The International Women’s Policy Research Group just released an analysis of the weekly gender pay gap by race and ethnicity,” Nordhaus said. “And what it shows is that the racial and gender pay gaps remain really deep. So we see that LatinX women’s weekly earnings are only 58% of non-Hispanic white men, and black women’s earnings are currently 63%.

Vermont Racial Equity’s first executive director Xusana Davis says policies must include all at-risk communities.

“All of our work should incorporate fairness in the process, which means we need to hear directly from people and be less prescriptive in telling them that this is what we think is best for you based on our history of always being in power and often leaving you invisible, ”Davis said. “And instead, do you pivot towards what you need to recover?” And then we do that. Clever. It’s simple and it’s inclusive in a way people have had it. And not because we give them free will because it’s not something to give them but it’s just something we can stop denying them.

Vermont Women’s Fund Director Meg Smith hopes the pandemic will be a catalyst for positive policy development.

“We have a new landscape that we are facing and as disheartening as it may be at first glance, it actually gives us a much clearer picture and a more precise landscape and setting to move us forward.” , said Smith.

Lieutenant Governor Gray hopes that the pending proposals, both in Vermont and nationally, will help the economic situation of women.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there,” Gray said. “I think the timing is right in so many ways. We need to act. We need to act now to address the economic well-being of Vermont women and the crises we face.”


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