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New Report Outlines Status of Women in Alaska

Research examines how Alaska’s women rank in areas such as wages and homelessness

JUNEAU-Senator Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, today released a report she requested on the status of women in Alaska.  The research, conducted by the non-partisan Legislative Research Services, examined several areas of concern including homelessness, property ownership, gender wage gaps, crime, health care, and mental illness.

“Some of the numbers are shocking and disturbing.  Sadly, some of them are what I expected,” said Senator McGuire.  “That’s why it is important for us to figure out what’s behind these numbers and come up with solutions which make Alaska better for our daughters and granddaughters.”

Senator McGuire requested the Status of Women Report after reviewing the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, where nearly a thousand Alaskan women were interviewed.  The survey revealed 59-percent of women currently living in Alaska have experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence, or both.   In just the last year, according to the Victimization Survey, women made up 80-percent of the people in victim service programs. 

Major findings in the report include:

Homelessness:  The report made an important distinction between single homeless people and homeless families.  In 2012, 25% of single people in shelters were female.  In sad contrast, for adults considered part of a family staying in shelters, 62% were women with children.  The report also noted that domestic violence is a major cause of homelessness for women and children.   In 2012, 3,125 women and children stayed in Alaska’s domestic violence facilities.  Of these, 1,372 were under the age of 18.

Property Ownership:  For home ownership, the numbers were the worst for single mothers where research found that only 42% of single mothers with young children own their homes, which is the lowest rate for any group. 

Gender Pay Gap: The gender wage gap between women and men in Alaska is still substantial despite the dramatic change in roles and participation of women in the workplace.  Studies show women now receive the majority of bachelor degrees granted.   However, in Alaska in 2010, women only earned 67-cents for each dollar a man earned.

Health Care:  Alaska women are slightly more likely to have health coverage than Alaskan men, but the coverage for Alaskan women is still below the national average.  

Crime:  The number of women going to prison in Alaska is growing.  In 2007, women made up 6.5-percent of Alaska’s prison population.   That number had jumped to nearly 11-percent in 2011. 

Mental Health:  The suicide rate for women in Alaska is twice as high as the U.S. rate.  Even more alarming were the numbers for girls in Alaska’s high schools, where in 2011, nearly 10% tried to commit suicide.  Nearly two-thirds of women in treatment in Alaska were in treatment for alcohol related problems compares to just one-third nationwide.

“We need to take a very serious look at these numbers and figure out what we need to do to improve the status of women in Alaska,” said Senator McGuire.  “These issues are at the core of Alaska’s high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault.  If we figure out solutions to these problems, we’ll finally be able to stop those horrible epidemics and rebuild Alaska’s families.”

To view the entire report, please click here.
 

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