In the early 19th century, American women lacked not only suffrage, but many other basic rights. A married woman could not own property or sign a contract, she had no right to her wages if she worked, and she had no custodial rights to her own children.
Wyoming is the “Equality State” and the first state to grant women the right to vote. However, there are still some inequities. Although Wyoming was the first to ratify the right to vote for women, it is curious that there are not more women holding office, especially in the Legislature.
Although we have experienced some changes, there is certainly room for improvement.
Women are still paid less for doing the same job. In terms of self-sufficiency, there is room for improvement. Our elected officials need to raise the minimum wage in Wyoming to a living wage (two-thirds of low-wage workers nationally are women). Establishing an Equal Pay Office in Wyoming would help.
In Wyoming, 27% of female-headed households live below the Wyoming Self-Sufficiency Standard, and do not have the ability to meet their basic needs with public or private assistance.
When jobs don’t provide paid sick leave, job security for primary caregivers (typically women) is jeopardized, not only due to her own health-care concerns, but also those of her children.
These inequities have been even more challenging for women of color.
Wyoming’s failure to expand Medicaid leaves a vulnerable low-income population struggling to afford health care.
It is time to celebrate Wyoming as truly the “Equality State.”