This is Women’s History Month, and the history part is extensive, dating back to a biblical beginning.
Things have changed for women over the years, in many cases improving women’s lives, but in other ways, not so much.
For example, a WalletHub survey of the situation California women face today turns out to be a lot of negatives. The worst is California’s last place out of 51 states surveyed in median earning for female workers. Next-worst has to be this state’s 46th place in working-age women who aren’t working.
One fact that surprised us was California’s 42nd-place ranking in the number of eligible women voters who participated in the 2016 presidential election. Maybe they assumed an automatic win for Hillary Clinton, and stayed home — a decision many of them likely now regret.
California women’s highest rankings in the WalletHub survey are a second place out of 51 states in life expectancy at birth, a sixth place in preventive health care, and 11th spot in overall quality of women’s hospitals.
California’s overall ranking was 16th out of 51. Not bad, but not what you’d expect from the best state in the nation.
One area that is improving but still defies logic is the number of California women holding elective office, especially at the state and federal levels. The state Legislature opened its 2019 session with 36 women in the Assembly and Senate, one short of the record high in 2006, and nearly 60 percent of newly-elected state lawmakers are women. That follows a national trend, and is truly encouraging — considering that women comprise just more than half of the state and U.S. populations.
Even though encouraging, the numbers still seem lacking. For example, women occupy 31 percent of seats in the Legislature, but make up more than half the state’s voting-age population.
The same imbalance holds in Congress. Currently, the House and Senate is comprised of just more than 27 percent women, up a lot since the 1970s, but still short of being truly representative of America’ overall adult population.
We’ve touched on this subject in recent editorials, and considering the current state of chaos in government at the federal level, we can imagine why so many self-respecting women are unwilling to become candidates for office.
But the obvious truth is, if women want the status afforded to equality, getting elected to policy-making positions — at all levels of government — is the only viable way to do it.
One might reasonably counter that women can affect change to going to the polls in greater numbers, and that is true. But one also has to wonder if going to the polls is good enough, when the policies upon which they are voting are created and promoted by what is clearly the male majority in this country.
This is not an indictment of men, most of whom are conscientious about creating meaningful public policy. Quite the contrary. It is open encouragement to women to get more involved in this nation’s political process, to be the force that comes with being in the majority from a population standpoint.
It’s not just here in America. Women in government are underrepresented in most countries worldwide, although women are increasingly being elected to be heads of state and government.
As of late last year, the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is 24.1 percent, compared to 8 percent just six years ago.
Like just about everything else in life, politics needs balance. That won’t happen until more women get involved.