Madeline Rogero and Amy Broyles, in separate interviews, support the work of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women, which could be killed if a senate committee doesn’t support its funding – about $300,000 a year. The group studies issues affecting women such as wage inequality, violence on women, child care, education and so on – though its supporters say that women’s issues are everyone’s issue.
This economic council is the group that Broyles was ripped by then-commissioner R. Larry Smith (who later apologized) – for attending a few years ago. Both Broyles and Rogero have attended annual conferences for the Economic Council on Women.
Broyles had plenty to say about the issue. Her response to the matter, via email:
This is tremendously disappointing, but not terribly surprising – and there is some irony in that the TECW was established under a Republican administration.
Women make up 51% of the state’s population, yet are woefully underrepresented in elected offices, appointed positions, and corporate boards. Although women in the state of Tennessee do the same work as men, the wage gap persists. And until those disparities are successfully addressed, the TECW is needed.
There is not another group or organization anywhere in the state doing the kind of research the TECW does. Each year it focuses on one particular issue, studies it in depth, and reports back to the state on the impact of that issue. The results benefit all residents of the state, not only women. For example, in 2013 the TECW produced a study that showed our state looses close to one billion dollars each year due to violence against women. These studies are valuable not only because they highlight a particular problem, but also because they make recommendations for solutions.
Their website contains a wealth of information on a number of topics vital to anyone interested in creating an economically strong, healthy state for everyone. There is research on women’s healthcare, political participation, wages and earnings, job training, women-owned businesses, violence against women, and other important and timely issues. The TECW has twice produced a county-by-county, targeted report on indicators that affect not only women’s lives, but the lives of families and children. We can now see where we’ve been, where we’re trending, and where we need to make course corrections.
Healthcare, education, job training, affordable and quality childcare – these are not just women’s issues, they are everyone’s issues.
The TECW’s latest efforts have produced a unique and highly valuable online tool called the Women & Work Information Hub (www.womenandworktn.com), “an online collection of information and guidance designed to enhance workforce skills, find a new career, start or strengthen a business, or grow ideas into products throughout Tennessee.” The site, however, isn’t only for women – men will also find it useful, as it provides “a single point of entry to resources from multiple agencies and regions.”
The fact is that if the women of a state do well economically, the entire state does well economically. This is because women tend to have more purchasing power than men, even though the wage gap persists. Women tend to make most of the purchasing decisions in a family, from which breakfast cereal or jeans to buy, to where to stay on vacation, to even major purchases such as houses and cars. If the wage gap were closed, and women had more financial resources available for themselves and their families, imagine how much stronger our state’s economy would be, how much more revenue we would have with which to work.
The failure to extend funding for the TECW is a step back for the entire state.
About a year ago, I was sharply criticized by a former colleague for missing a Commission meeting to attend the TECW’s yearly Summit. I believe his comment was along the lines of “how are women’s issues going to help Knox County?” The response from the public, both women and men, was swift and harsh. Even state organizations weighed in on the importance of educating ourselves on so-called “women’s issues.” I can only hope that the Senators who voted against extending the funding for the TECW receive a similar response from the residents of Tennessee, who see the value in the work the TECW produces, and can convince the Senators to take another look at what they are loosing, and the hardship it will bring to the entire state – women, children, and men.
The Tennessee Economic Council on Women’s research and advocacy are irreplaceable,” Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “One of its recent reports determined that domestic abuse and sexual assault cost the state nearly $1 billion annually. The Council also addresses such problems as human trafficking and wage disparity.”
“Just look at its website, www.tennesseewomen.org. Tennesseans can find many tools, but two unique clearinghouses for resources and information stand out. The Women & Work Information Hub helps job seekers, start-up business owners and existing businesses. The Violence Against Women Resource Center connects victims with those able to help.”
“The Council’s No. 1 goal is to strengthen Tennessee by providing its women with the tools they need to be successful. It’s hard to argue against continuing its proven good work.”