California Commission on the Status of Women expires due to budget cuts


The Commission provides a voice for 19 million women and girls, more than half the state's population.

Many feel it's a sad day for California. Because of budget cuts, the /*California Commission on the Status of Women*/ is packing up and closing its doors after 47 years of fighting for gender equity.

Maybe the recent election of actress Geena Davis to head the agency could bring it back to life one day. But for now, it runs out of money at the end of next week without its mission fulfilled.

"Women have come a long way, certainly, since 1965, but have not achieved full equality," said Beth McGovern, interim executive director, Calif. Commission on the Status of Women.

The Commission's own report found California women still earn less than men, making 84 cents to the dollar. Only 28 percent of the Legislature are women. And only one Fortune 500 company in California has a female CEO.

"If no one is there to point it out, if no one is there to look at this and be aware of it and say, 'But if you do that, women will be harmed' -- yes, I am very concerned," said McGovern.

Ironically, Governor Jerry Brown's father established the commission in 1965, and now it is Jerry himself who proposes to no longer fund it, even though it costs less than half-a-million dollars a year to run. The governor is on a mission to consolidate and reduce government.

"There's different advocacy organizations and the governor and others who are going to be making sure that the state continues to do what it needs to do to take care of the needs of women," said Ana Matosantos, director of the /*California Department of Finance*/.

The /*California Legislative Women's Caucus*/ points out that state government has been especially hard on women. Welfare grants have been slashed. There are fewer slots for subsidized childcare. And domestic violence shelters lost much of their state funding.

"What we've been doing is cutting services that primarily serve women and children in this state," said Caucus Chairwoman state Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa). "So this is not the time to eliminate the Commission on the Status of Women because the status of women in the state of California right now is very precarious."

In a last-ditch effort, the commission designated April 11 as "Call-In Day," hoping so many Californians call into the governor's office that Brown finds the money to save the agency.

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