October 19, 2013 10:31:17 PM
Adele Elliott - [email protected]
I suppose we are all aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are a lot of fundraisers, pink ribbons being worn and commercials reminding us to keep up with our self-exams. Even the professional football teams are on this bandwagon, with pink additions to their uniforms in gloves, shoes, socks and all sorts of masculine equipment dyed a bright, rosy pink.
We "girls" should be happy for all this support. However, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every month, 46 women are murdered with guns by a current or former intimate partner. Mississippi ranks second highest in the nation for domestic violence and fifth in domestic violence-related homicides, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For homicides in which the victim-to-offender relationship could be identified, 100 percent were murdered by someone they knew. (mayorsagainstillegalguns.org)
Our state has much to cause us embarrassment about our treatment of women. We have the highest poverty rate for women and girls of all the states -- 26.70 percent. Mississippi also leads in infant mortality, with 9.7 deaths per 1,000 births. In this state, women make 76 cents for every dollar earned by a man. We can "comfort" ourselves with the knowledge that Louisiana and Alabama rated a bit lower in the comparison of wages. We are not the lowest of the low.
The state also has one of the country's highest rates of uninsured females. Mississippi residents also must go without any kind of paid family, sick or temporary disability leave, for which there are no state policies. (Thomas C. Frohlich and Alexander E.M. Hess; Oct. 3, 2013)
Interestingly, we will not participate in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Thankfully our governor, Phil Bryant (R), understands the root of all our problems. " ... troubles began when women began working outside the home in large numbers," he is quoted as saying. (Valerie Strauss; The Washington Post; June 2013)
A bit simplistic, don't you think? Are all these mothers just dying to leave their children for the thrill of holding down a low-paying job? Most women would love to raise their babies, to be there for the first steps and the first words. They are working because they have no choice. There are those pesky little matters of food and clothing.
We are also fortunate to have a governor who said, "I believe that all human life is precious, and as governor, I will work to ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi." (Politico; April 16, 2012)
It's hard to truly accept the idea that the leader of our state actually means what he says. (OK, I know politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths.) But really, Gov. Phil, you need to pay a lot more attention to the living voters and their families. Aren't you ashamed of our stats? The rest of us are. We hardly ever hear the term "public servant" any more. That is probably because those in high offices consider themselves more like royalty than representatives of the people. You do realize that we can vote you out. Or do you?
The entire country, and especially the state of Mississippi, must do a better job for women. Sadly, the Equal Rights Amendment (originally written by Alice Paul in 1923) was not ratified and therefore not adopted. I'll bet many people are not aware of that.
It is not enough to wear a touch of pink for one month. We need to stand up for working mothers and children living in poverty. Remember, women (and the men who respect them) still have the right to vote. Let's use it.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. Email reaches her at [email protected]
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.