Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Report Ranks Oklahoma among the Five Worst States for Women

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Report Ranks Oklahoma among the Five Worst States for Women

Article excerpt

Oklahoma ranks as one of the five worst states for women, according to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Women's Policy Research.

On Tuesday, IWPR released its fifth biennial report on The Status of Women in the States, as well as its first-ever report focused solely on women in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma clearly has a long way to go in helping its women live to their full potential, said Heidi Hartmann, president of IWPR. Women here are struggling to get ahead with smaller paychecks, fewer women in public office to speak for them, higher rates of suicide - it's high time their voices are heard.

The report found that women in Oklahoma are poorer, less educated and less healthy than their counterparts in other states, and underrepresented in state government. However, while most of the results are negative for women, the report also highlights a few seemingly contradictory statistics.

One out of seven women in Oklahoma lives below the poverty line, ranking Oklahoma as the 11th-worst state for women's poverty rates. Poverty rates are particularly high among single mothers (36 percent) and among Hispanic (26 percent), African-American (28 percent) and Native American (21 percent) women in the state. Nearly half of all Hispanic and African-American single mothers in Oklahoma lives on an income below the poverty line.

Women in 40 other states are more likely to have a college education, and women in 43 other states are more likely to work in managerial or professional positions. The median income for women in Oklahoma is $3,500 below the national average.

Oklahoma is a rural state and access to social services such as domestic violence shelters, child care, and health care is thus restricted for many women, reads the report. Poverty is a large issue in the state. Women and children are disproportionately affected by poverty, and women's lack of access to paid employment opportunities in rural areas may contribute to this. Further, while women in general may have less access to Oklahoma's resources, disparities are especially severe for women of color.

Oklahoma women have the fourth-highest death rate from heart disease, the 11th-highest death rate from lung cancer, the 13th- highest incidence of diabetes, and the 10th-highest suicide rate. …

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