Friday, February 20, 2009

Tulsa World Editorial on Oklahoma Women's Coalition

New Voice: Will group raise status of women?
Editorial from Tulsa World's Editorial Writers
Friday, February 20, 2009
2/20/2009 3:27:25 AM

It's too early to know whether a new advocacy organization, the Oklahoma Women's Coalition, will make a difference on the status of women in this state. One thing's for sure — such a group can't hurt.

A recent study by the Institute of Women's Policy Research found that Oklahoma is the second-worst state for women to reside.

A number of factors, none of them good, go into that discouraging, disturbing and embarrassing ranking. Oklahoma puts more women in jail, per capita, than any other state in the nation. The state ranks No. 4 nationally per capita in the number of women killed by their partners.

Various dedicated groups and leaders are tackling both problems as well as others, but the situation cannot be turned around overnight and needs the full attention of the policymakers and, of course, the public.

Jean Warner, director of Oklahoma Women's Coalition, said she and others interested in the subject had been meeting for years informally. "I was not aware of the dire situation Oklahoma women are in until I saw a study a few years ago that brought all the factors together. It was quite disturbing.

"There's really no organization like this in Oklahoma," Warner said. "We want to fill that void for people who want to know how policies at state agencies and the Legislature impact women and girls."

The group, funded by a $10,000 grant from the Women's Foundation of Oklahoma, came to the Capitol this week to educate new members on the legislative process and to meet state leaders.

Effective advocacy presupposes someone is listening. Members of this group probably heard supportive statements in the corridors of power. The trick will be turning that sympathy into action.


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