City of Houston Commission for Women

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When Houston women thrive, Houston thrives.

I am proposing the creation of the City of Houston Commission for Women. The Commission would work with the city to promote equality and justice for all women and girls and ensure they are represented and empowered in their communities and by the city.

When Houston women thrive, Houston thrives. Every driver of our city’s success – economic activity, public safety, education, family health, and more – will improve if we remove the institutional barriers to success for Houston women.

I am thrilled that Beth Merfish, a long-time advocate for women’s equality and empowerment, has agreed to lead the effort to gather input, research best practices, and formalize the proposal.

“Women in Houston are leading the way in so many areas, but much more work needs to be done,” says Beth. “From pay equity, to access to health care, to domestic violence, to affordable childcare, the Houston Commission for Women can educate, advocate and keep women’s issues at the top of the city’s priority list.”

As just one example, the latest data show that women overall in Houston who work full-time, year-round, make only 82 percent of what similarly situated men make. The disparities are much greater for women of color. Latinas in Houston make only 37 percent of what white males make; African American women make only 52 percent of what white males make.

That's not acceptable. We need to ensure that the city is doing everything it can to shatter the glass ceiling, from dismantling stereotypes to ensuring that women have equal access and opportunities.

I am reminded of a poem written by Mayor Annise Parker after her 1997 campaign for Houston City Council, which she has shared with a number of female candidates over the years. Every woman can relate to what Mayor Parker went through. As a candidate, I personally can. 

Here's a short excerpt:

You’re too reserved, you need to loosen up!
Don’t quip or speak irreverently – you’ll offend someone.
Smile – you’d seem more approachable.
Don’t smile so much, people won’t think you’re serious.
Don’t cross your arms.
Don’t speak with your hands.
Don’t stand so stiffly.
Your handshake’s much too firm.
A firm handshake signals confidence.
You stand too far away from folks.
You need to respect personal space.
You’re too scripted.
You should be more spontaneous!
 (I really encourage you to read the entire poem!)

Beth and I will keep you posted on our progress. If you'd like to get involved, please drop us a note!