This week, some good things happened.
This week, Cowgirl Run Fund came to Cheyenne. The Wyoming Women's Foundation released their updated Self-Sufficiency Standard. Leap into Leadership held a training and got 60 women ready to run. The Women's Legislative Caucus hosted dinner. And the Wall Street Journal came to town to find out why there aren't more elected women in Wyoming after all of our trailblazing firsts.
Admittedly, most of those good things were informational and ceremonial, but they all moved the Overton Window in their own way. And we can be thankful for that as a place to start.
But this week is also about the numbers.
And, even though we don't know how everything will turn out because there are still two days left and some bills still (may or may not) die a procedural death, this is where things stand at the close of week 2:
Total number of bills and joint resolutions: 398
Total number of bills and joint resolutions sponsored by individuals: 230
Total number of bills and joint resolutions sponsored by women: 28
Total number of bills and joint resolutions sponsored by women on general file: 6
Total number of days Jen has worn heels: 2
This paints, in stark terms, exactly what happens when there are too few women in the Legislature. Too few women on committees. (For example, as we *frequently* point out on Twitter, there are *zero* women on the all-powerful Joint Appropriations Committee that lines out the budget.) Too few women as chairs of committees. (There are two: Rep. Sue Wilson--who prefers the honorific Chairman--who chairs House Labor and Sen. Tara Nethercott who chairs Senate Judiciary.)
And, while we're talking about committees, it is worth noting that *none* of the interim committees took up interim topics that discussed or addressed issues impacting women. None of the committee bills (which are more likely to get introduced and more likely to pass) addressed women's economic security, access to health care, or equal representation.
There were interim topics--like Wyoming's aging population--that would have benefited from a gender lens. Here are just a few reasons why that would have improved the discussion for all of Wyoming's citizens:
Because the majority of Wyoming's population over 70 is female.
Because the majority of paid and unpaid caregivers are female.
Because the fastest growing job sector in the nation is paid care work and that sector is dominated by women and those are among Wyoming's lowest wage jobs.
But there was an express unwillingness to discuss any of those points--even if those discussions would have improved service delivery, saved money, and enhanced care. We, as a state, do ourselves a disservice when we discount or overlook 50% of our state's population or when we say that expressly taking women into account is "identity politics." As though making straight, white, men normative isn't setting identity politics as the baseline.
And, as we've said before and will say again: equal representation matters if we want equitable policymaking.
So what can you do to help?
Run for office.
Work on campaigns.
Tell the truth.
Don't be attached the results.
That's our best advice for how to tackle this week. Put on your flats, and we'll see you tomorrow morning at the Capitol!