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New Members to Women’s Rights Commission Voice Concerns

By Daniel Cherry | Published 06 Jul 2011 05:24pm | comments

Five new women have been sworn in to their positions on the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the new additions hope to play key roles in advancing the rights of women in the state.

Women in Mississippi face a higher poverty rate, nearly 25 percent less pay on average, and are proportionately underrepresented in elected offices. Marianne Hill is the Chairperson of the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women. She says those gaps are largely due to traditional gender roles.

"There's a certain place that you're expected, a certain role that you're expected to perform. There's a little bit more of what I call occupational segregation in Mississippi. Women are more segregated into women's jobs. There's just more emphasis on playing your role."

The Commission is meant to work as an advisory committee to government officials in order to promote the advancement of women in Mississippi. Wesla Leech is a new appointment. She says she wants to help single mothers have more chances to succeed in life because she's a single mother herself.

"Your children's activities, your job, your home. There's a lot to cover to be able to help women and assist women in being more productive with their time. Also financially it can be a real struggle for single parents."

The new members say bridging these gaps will be no easy task. New commissioner Rita Wray says the first step is getting women into positions where they can have their voices heard.

"We need experts in what we need to do with poverty, education, jobs, health care, and to make sure there are leaders at the table that can make things happen. Not just talk the talk, but make it happen."

The goals of the commission are to promote economic and business opportunities for women as well as denounce violence and sexual harassment.




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