By Chris Caraveo
English writer and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792 said “I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.”
More than 225 years later, a study by WalletHub shows women in some U.S. states have more of that than women in others.
With March being Women’s History Month and women only holding 23.7 percent of the seats in Congress despite making up 51 percent of the U.S. population, the personal-finance website released its report on 2019’s Best & Worst States for Women.
Arizona ranks No. 41, better than only 10 states (Washington D.C. was included in the report).
“Arizona has the fourth highest unemployment rate for women, 5.4 percent, and it also ranks poorly in terms of preventive healthcare,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Additionally, in regards to safety, the state has a high prevalence of stalking victimization among women. Livability could be improved by creating more job opportunities, as well as improving healthcare and educating women towards the importance of preventive medical screenings.”
Minnesota is No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, and New York.
To identify the most women-friendly states, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 24 key metrics. The data set ranges from median earnings for female workers to women’s preventive health care to female homicide rate.
Despite having one of the higher unemployment rates, Arizona is 14th in job security for women. The state also fares well in the share of women-owned businesses (11th), depression rate (16th), quality of women’s hospitals (9th) and women’s life expectancy at birth (15th).
Looking at the political makeup of the country, 25 percent and 23.4 percent of the representatives in the U.S. Senate and House, respectively, are women. However, 51 percent of the population is female.
How important is it for women to have a more equal representation in government?
“50-50 representation would be ideal,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “But even slightly more political representation for women is an important step. It could help improve women’s workplace equality, as well as increase women’s overall safety by passing federal laws that speak to both.”
Arizona boasts two women senators, with the 2018 election of Kyrsten Sinema and the subsequent appointment of Martha McSally by Gov. Doug Ducey.
In the House, Debbie Lesko and Ann Kirkpatrick are two women among the nine representatives of the state.
Violence against women
Arizona ranked 22nd in female homicide rate, which measures the number of females murdered by males.
When asked why only male offenders were considered, Analyst Jill Gonzalez said WalletHub’s source for the female homicide rate was a study from the Violence Policy Center regarding females murdered by males.
“According to our source, ‘Intimate partner violence against women is all too common and takes many forms,’” Ms. Gonzalez said. “‘The most serious is homicide by an intimate partner.’”
The Arizona Foundation for Women has awarded millions of dollars to numerous non-profit organizations since its inception in 1995. Its goal is to provide better services to address unmet needs of women and children in the state.
Women in Arizona are among the least insured in the nation, ranking 39th at 10.9 percent. However, the rate is far better than in the AFW’s 2016 report which found 15 percent of Arizona women were uninsured, ranking it 10th worst in the nation.
At a rate of 5.1 per 100,000 women, Arizona ranks 36th in prevalence of rape victimization among females.
In efforts to bring offenders to justice, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office received a $1.9 million grant in September 2015 from the New York County District Attorney’s Office to analyze previously untested sexual assault evidence kits.
Ask the Experts
Susan Chizeck, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Dallas, told WalletHub that job growth factor and the level of taxation in a state are among things for women to consider when choosing where to live.
However, she advised against younger women moving to states where their reproductive rights are under attack.
“You cannot have your personal actual body under the control of the legislature run by old, rich, white men who have no interest in your rights,” Dr. Chizeck stated. “That factor can influence your entire life more than anything else. The states that want to restrict your rights are often correlated with lack of equality in many things and also low support of education and health care.”
Jo Reger, a professor at Oakland University, said the question of “Which women” needs to be asked when determining whether states are converging or diverging in issues of importance to women.
“While the temptation of some research is to make ‘women’ a universal category, women of different races, ethnicities, religions, education level and sexual and gender identities fare very differently depending on the environment around them,” she stated, referring to women’s suffrage in the early 1900s, albeit more favorably to whites at the time.
She also said comparing issues cannot be seen from a regional lens as neighboring states may differ in law and/or social norms.