The Hamilton County Commission on Women and Girls (HCCWG) will present its report and recommendations to the county commission Thursday evening.
This is the second year for Women and Girls commission, which includes 20 women and 10 girls, mostly high school age.
County Commission President Denise Driehaus proposed the group after being elected in 2016. She said women and girls in the county needed a space for their voices to be heard.
"The girls are the powerhouse of this commission," Driehaus said. "The women are fantastic. But the girls want to be listened to. And so it's been really powerful to have a strong set of girls making recommendations."
One the group's nine recommendations this year is for schools in the county to find ways to provide free menstrual supplies to students in grades six thru 12.
Jenny Hu, lives in Sycamore Township and is a sophomore at Seven Hills School. She said a number of girls end up missing school or leaving early because they're on their periods and don't have access to these products.
"So by providing these products for them, we're helping girls get their education or helping their self-esteem and their confidence," Hu said. "And also, it's a public health hazard really to not have these products because it could end up causing cervical cancer if you leave a tampon in for too long, or toxic shock syndrome, and so it's really empowering to girls, both physically and emotionally."
Hu learned about the women and girls commission from a poster at her school. She said she's interested in politics and participating in the commission was "right up her alley."
"I think it's really important for girls to get our voices into politics because unfortunately right now there's still more men in politics than women," Hu said. "And if we want change to happen that's beneficial to girls and women then we have to get our voices out there."
Driehaus said the commission is very diverse in terms of geography, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic factors. She said 176 applied to participate this year.
The county commission will consider the nine recommendations, and then decide which ones to enact or pursue.
"They're about women in leadership roles. They're about community conversations. They're about victims of domestic violence. They're about safety in schools. They're about period products," Driehaus said. "And so they kind of run the gamut, because that's where women and girls are in this community. I mean that you know that the concerns run the gamut, and I think the recommendations reflect that."
In December, the county commission will begin accepting applications for the next round of the Women and Girls commission. Those selections are expected to be made in January. Ten of the women from this year's commission will participate again next year.
Other 2020 recommendations from the women and girls commission include:
- Hamilton County should establish and fund a part-time or full-time county staff position to manage and oversee the work of the Commission in order to fully develop these programs and convene a broad range of employers, community partners and other stakeholders. This initiative requires significant oversight, much more than a volunteer committee can provide.
- Develop and launch the Hamilton County Pay Equity Pledge built upon best practices, while remaining tailored to the needs of our local community as outlined in the report.
- Continue to make appointments to boards and commissions that reflect those they serve; encourage other political jurisdictions to do the same, using The Women’s Fund’s best practices guide.
- Enact policies and practices that support survivors of gender-based violence which include: Support a comprehensive workplace training and education program for all Hamilton County employees to prevent gender-based violence and promote a safe work environment; Adopt policies and procedures that give appropriate and reasonable accommodations to all Hamilton County employees who are victims of gender-based violence; and provide immediate assistance and support to Hamilton County employees who are victims of gender-based violence, such as information and referrals to resources.
- Explore funding services to ensure that victims’ advocates are available 24-7 to be dispatched to scenes of domestic violence in partnership with local law enforcement, and identify funding for Hamilton County municipalities with higher rates of domestic violence that are not currently served by existing domestic violence emergency response teams.
- Programs and legislation should continue to be enacted to achieve menstrual equity.
- Encourage all schools within Hamilton County to expand gender-based violence prevention efforts.
- Community conversations, storytelling and art can be used to open dialogue about solutions to housing insecurity and homelessness. Encourage continued conversations around the issue of housing insecurity hosted by community partners using the toolkit developed by the HCCWG.