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A vote against the women’s commission

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Last Sunday the Greensboro News & Record published a piece by Margaret Moffett Banks about a city commission created in 1973 to monitor and promote women’s issues. The group was given a full-time city employee and the authority to take surveys and stage public hearings, as well as access to face time with the Greensboro City Council.

But in recent years the Greensboro Commission on the Status of Women has seemingly strayed from its mission.

According to the story, the 15-member board has trouble attaining quorums at meetings. Many of their annual events, which include a luncheon and a breakfast paid for with a budget that was recently halved from $90,000 to $45,000, have declining rates of attendance. And it is unclear how catered meals further the status of Greensboro’s women.

Among their accomplishments is the establishment of a monthly book club with more than 30 members and a salaried staff.

Of course, the commission was not always a taxpayer-funded version of “Oprah.” When it was founded in 1973 the women of Greensboro had few resources for refuge from abusive husbands, job training and placement, counseling or business advice. But today institutions like the Women’s Resource Center, GTCC and others give immediate and able assistance to women in need.

And at this time we feel that the Commission on the Status of Women has run its course.

Does that mean the fair sex has achieved equality, that there is no more work to be done to level the playing field, to assist women who, for whatever reason, find themselves in need of short or long-term aid?

Of course not.

Women still make about 75 cents for every dollar made by men. Women’s authority over their own bodies is consistently challenged. They are still susceptible to abuse and the many, many difficulties of raising children without the benefit of a partner.

But these are not problems that can be solved by book clubs, awards luncheons and daylong celebrations of the 19th Amendment.

The situation has not gone without notice by the Greensboro City Council. Besides the 50 percent budget cut, the council – and most notably District 3 representative Tom Phillips – is now asking itself if the Commission on the Status of Women is necessary at all.

We feel that it is not.

There are women in this city, hundreds if not thousands of them, afflicted by very real problems in the workplace, in their homes and on the streets. To use funds earmarked for their well-being, even if it is a paltry $45,000, and invest it frivolously is an insult to them and the tribulations they endure.

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