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New analysis shows Connecticut best state in nation for women

HARTFORD According to a new analysis based on data from 12 authoritative sources, Connecticut ranks first among all 50 states as the best place for women to live and work.
HARTFORD According to a new analysis based on data from 12 authoritative sources, Connecticut ranks first among all 50 states as the best place for women to live and work.

An analysis by the online site iVillage looked at data from the National Council of State Legislatures, the National Women's Law Center, the Center for American Women & Politics at Rutgers and the U.S. Census Bureau, among other sources.

Connecticut women fare better than those in all other 49 states in an aggregate picture that includes healthcare coverage, education, economic well-being, parenting support systems and the percentage of women in elected office.

"As this new analysis shows, Connecticut stands out in the nation as a leader in women's economic security, health and safety and the elimination of gender discrimination, which for 39 years have been the three priority areas of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women," said PCSW Executive Director Teresa C. Younger. "Enlightened public policy from the 1965 landmark Griswold v. Connecticut to recent Paid Sick Leave legislation proves Connecticut cares about its women and their families. This is especially laudable at a time of unprecedented attacks on the rights of women nationally."

In Connecticut, state resources such as PCSW, Planned Parenthood, the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS), the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and others, have an especially strong working relationship with the state's U.S. Congressional Delegation, which has a long track record of advocacy on behalf of women. Leaders cautioned, however, that the picture is far from perfect.

"I am proud that Connecticut ranks first for women in this analysis, especially in access to healthcare and education," said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3). "But we still have a long way to go when even in a state like ours women still make 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts in the same job."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said: "This rating should be a call to action, not a cause for complacency. In a dismal time for gender equality, marked by constant and relentless attacks on rights of women, Connecticut leads by impressive example. This information is encouraging but recalls as well the work left to do fighting for a more effective Violence Against Women Act to ensure the continued health and safety of women in Connecticut and across the country."

The PCSW, which is one of the oldest commissions for women in the country, differs from many other women's commissions in that it is written into statute as part of the Legislative Branch. As such, it is mandated to assess policy, make recommendations and actively promote women in leadership.

"While no one person or agency can take credit for Connecticut's strong track record, there are several people and groups in the forefront of the battles," said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. "As one of the oldest women's commissions in the country and the most active, PCSW is certainly one of those groups. The Legislature has consistently passed progressive acts that enhance women's status, and the Malloy/Wyman Administration is committed to continuing those efforts. Also, Connecticut has several strong groups like Planned Parenthood, CWEALF and others that are tireless advocates. Together these people and organizations have made a real difference and that's why Connecticut stands out."

The report cited the fact that more than 90% of Connecticut's women and girls have healthcare coverage, and females in the state are among the most highly educated, with more than a third holding a four-year college degree.

Connecticut also got high marks for its support systems for victims of domestic violence and resources that provide access to the full range of women's reproductive healthcare.

"We have great respect for the private and personal decisions a woman makes with her doctor and her family regarding her personal healthcare," said Judy Tabar, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. "Every woman should be able to trust that her health care provider can offer her the most appropriate care based on her individual needs; and that's what we fight for."

When it comes to political parity, Connecticut, while not reaching 50%, does far better than most states, ranking 9th in the percentage of women serving in the General Assembly.

"This is an achievement to be celebrated," said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. "Connecticut has had a long history of producing strong women leaders, and indeed nationally women tend to vote in larger numbers than men. We still have a long way to go, however, until women achieve parity in serving in elective office as political representation still tends to be a male-dominated field. We also need to see more women represent the residents of our state on state boards and commissions. We need to redouble our efforts to reach out to and mentor the next generation of women leaders."

Senator Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven), said: "While it is fitting to celebrate Connecticut's number one ranking in this survey it is also important to recognize how much work is left to be done in terms of complete parity, in healthcare, pay equity and employment opportunities, and in our social support systems. I am particularly pleased with Connecticut's high ranking in terms of women in elected office. Their leadership will continue to help our state address gender equality in all these other areas."

Of the analysis, House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden), said, "This is welcome news, given how hard we've fought to make sure that women in our state have access to good and affordable health care, educational opportunities and jobs. We know, however, that the fight never ends. We can, and must, do more to bring about equity for women in terms of pay, benefits and opportunity at a time when their rights are being attacked across the country."

The analysis, authored by journalist Cynthia Ramnarace, was commissioned by iVillage, the largest content-driven online community for women. In addition to the sources listed above, the analysis drew from data generated by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the Guttmacher Institute, NARAL, the Office of Women's Health, the National Network to End Domestic Violence the National Association of Child Care resource and Referral Agencies and the American Association of University Women.