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Study Shows Montana Women Report High Rate of Sexual Violence

male and female
Photo courtesy of Leo Reyolds/Flickr

A new study titled The Status of Women in Montana, released by the Women’s Foundation of Montana has some startling statistics.The study was compiled by two University of Montana professors who looked specifically at the status of women in health, safety, economics and leadership.

According to sociology professor Kathey Kuipers, one of the most concerning statistics had to do with the rate of sexual violence suffered by women in Montana. In three out of four categories, Montana women had higher rates of sexual violence than the national average in the catagories of rape by any perpetrator, stalking, and rape/sexual violence/stalking by an intimate partner.

The largest component of the study dealt with issues surrounding economics and gender. One of the most highlighted discoveries is that full-time, female workers in Montana earn an average of just over 31,000 dollars a year. Women in only three other states earn less on average than women in Montana.

Below are the recommendations proposed by Montana Women’s Foundation Director Jen Euell to help solve disparities and problems found in the study. These solutions are taken word-for-word from the published study.

Economics

To ensure equity in the workplace:

Employers should regularly evaluate their wage and promotion practices to ensure equity for men and women of all races and ethnicities.

Employers should actively recruit women into male-dominated fields that pay well compared with female-dominated jobs with lower pay.

Employers should implement policies to prevent harassment of women workers, especially within nontraditional fields, where it is more prevalent.

Women workers in Montana would benefit from greater availability of paid parental and dependent care leave policies, especially among the lowest-paid workers.

Women workers would benefit from greater availability of quality and affordable childcare.

In particular, early care and education programs that provide full day care need to be expanded to provide care to all families who would like to use it. This is an area of investment that provides benefits to two generations, as children receive a better education, while parents are able to increase work hours.

To promote a brighter economic future:

Investing more in education at all levels and particularly in training in the use of new technologies will improve economic growth for all, especially women and girls.

Providing financial education in our public schools will provide young women with the knowledge they need to create a financially sustainable future for themselves and their families.

Public funds for providing technical assistance and loans to small businesses should be enlarged and more readily available, especially for rural women.

State and tribal policies should support the economic development of reservations and American Indian tribes by incorporating tribally designed economic development efforts.

Women would benefit from more training on how to negotiate for their own salary and benefits.

Health and Safety

Access to healthcare would be improved through greater use of publicly funded programs and greater incentives to employers to provide health insurance. Implementation of the

Affordable Care Act in 2014 may begin to address this issue.

Increased investment in health education, prevention and treatment, including women’s reproductive health, would improve women’s health and reduce disparities in health status associated with race and socioeconomic status.

Increased services for survivors of violence would provide greater financial stability for these women.

Leadership

Women can increase the visibility of the issues facing them by striving to assume leadership positions in a variety of places- in community and tribal governments, in state and federal government, in businesses and corporations, in their communities.

Policies and practices that encourage women to run for office are necessary to increase the representation of women in politics. Such policies include recruitment of female candidates by political parties and other organizations, and fair and equal media treatment for male and female candidates.

Government-appointed boards and commissions are important training grounds for elected office and Montana should be applauded for efforts to increase gender equity and racial parity on boards and commissions.

These efforts should be sustained.

Resources for women’s entrepreneurship should be increased to support women who wish to lead Montana toward a brighter financial future.

 

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