Women’s commission sets goals

The goals for the Commission on the Status of Women are coming into focus, after nearly a year of research, discussion and goal-setting.

The 15-member volunteer group has created committees on health and safety, education and economic prosperity.

Members of the Commission on the Status of Women presented their goals to the Pasco County Commission. Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, front row center, headed up efforts to establish the commission, along with attorney Michele Hintson (not shown). (Courtesy of Pasco County)

Issues that will be pursued in coming months include domestic violence, affordable child care, and women’s entrepreneurship, financial education and literacy.

Amanda Colon, chairwoman of the woman’s commission, gave Pasco County commissioners an update on the group’s activities over the past year.

Several of the group’s members joined her at the Feb. 20 meeting of the Pasco County Commission in New Port Richey.

“I truly cannot think of a more relevant time to be talking to you about women,” said Colon. “As the status of women goes in Pasco, so goes Pasco. Having women in crisis negatively affects our schools, our courts and our commerce.”

Raising the status of women will positively affect schools, courts and the local economy, Colon said.

The women’s status commission began its work in May 2017. Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey and attorney Michele Hintson worked together to establish the group, which has five appointees by county commissioners.

Other members are from 10 area agencies, schools and nonprofits. They are African-American Club of Pasco County Inc., Hispanic Professional Women’s Association Inc., Metropolitan Ministries, Pasco Economic Development Council, Pasco-Hernando State College, Saint Leo University, Sunrise of Pasco County Inc., the United Way of Pasco County Inc., Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, and Women Lawyers of Pasco Inc.

“I know you’re off to a great start,” Starkey said.

In the next months, the women’s commission will continue its work through goals set by each committee.

The health and safety committee members plan to distribute a community survey to complete a needs assessment. The goal is to launch an action plan within six months.

Committee members also gathered data from the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Calls regarding domestic abuse were lowest in February, and the highest in September, October and November.

On April 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be a free Women’s Symposium on harassment prevention at the Pasco-Hernando State College West Campus, at 10230 Ridge Road, in New Port Richey.

“We’d like to look forward to see what we can do to prevent harassment in business, and focus on our young girls going into business, but also raising up girls who have a voice and know how to use it,” said Suzanne Legg, a member of the women’s commission.

This will be an ongoing discussion, not a one-time event, she added. “We’d like to change #metoo to #notme,” Legg said.

The education committee members plan to focus efforts on affordable child care, as well as career guidance and training for single mothers, empty-nesters and seniors.

Seniors include grandparents who often are caregivers for their grandchildren, Colon said.

A third goal is to provide mentoring and education for at-risk youth.

“We’re focusing immediately on identifying and utilizing resources we have in Pasco,” Colon said.

The economic prosperity committee plans to help women entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on their financial education and literacy.

“Women earn less, save less and live longer, but are responsible for the same living expenses as those of men,” Colon said.

Women often pay higher interest rates on home loans, for instance. And, many divorced women don’t receive full child support payments, Colon added.

“One in five divorced women slide into the poverty line,” she said.

To register for the free women’s symposium, visit FTGIsymposium.eventbrite.com.

Published February 28, 2018

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