Thursday, January 14, 1999

Women’s groups urge
economic opportunity

By Mike Yuen


In Hawaii, 20.9 percent of its women have four years or more of college, nearly 10 percent less than the District of Columbia, which has the highest percentage.

In Hawaii, 38.7 percent of the women own businesses. The highest percentage again is in D.C., with 43.5 percent.

These statistics, compiled by the Center for Policy Alternatives, a think tank in Washington, D.C., point out the need for policies that will help women realize their full potential, women leaders in Hawaii said today.

They, in conjunction with women leaders across the nation, challenged their state legislators to recognize and invest in the economic potential of women.

"We must ensure that women are full decision makers in every arena of our society," said Leslie Wilkins, chairwoman of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women.

Wilkins said for every $1 a man in Hawaii earns, an isle woman earns only 76 cents.

State Rep. Hermina Morita (D, Hanalei) said women legislators must become the conscience of the House and Senate in "calling for a more balanced, humane approach in addressing issues concerning families and communities.

"Yes, we want to work toward a strong, vibrant economy, but not at the expense of our families and communities. Nor do we want these issues to be left out of the discussion during difficult economic times."

Morita and other members of the Women's Legislative Caucus, the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and the Women's Coalition today urged policy makers to:

bullet Back an agenda that helps women attain economic self-sufficiency, including pay equity, and also entrepreneurial opportunities and health and security.

bullet Increase credit and financing options available to women in both small and large ventures.

bullet Recognize and treat domestic violence as not only a public health issue, but also an economic issue.

bullet Expand the dependent care tax credit to include elder care.

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