|Women face disproportionate inequities in many areas including healthcare, employment, safety, both nationally and at the local level. In Harris County, full-time working women only earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to a study by the University of Houston Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality. Women are also more likely to experience poverty than men, a gender gap that is more pronounced in Harris County than at the national level. These disparities are even larger for Hispanic and Black women.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these existing inequities in the United States. In 2020, women experienced 1 million more job losses than men, and over two million women have left the work force during COVID. The virus also disproportionately impacts women’s health –pregnant women are at a much higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, preterm birth, and other adverse outcomes. “Many women have unfairly fallen even farther behind,” said Council Member Kamin, who received the Moderna vaccine while eight months pregnant and encouraged others to do so. “It is critical to bring industry to the table to come up with creative solutions. The Women’s Commission will help ensure this stays at the forefront, and I am grateful to Mayor Turner for championing this.”
“Addressing major gender inequity in Houston is as daunting as it is urgent, particularly in light of the injustices made more acute by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Beth Matusoff Merfish, Chair of the Houston Women’s Commission. “With the invaluable support of Mayor Turner and Council Member Kamin, our commission stands ready to work at the nexus of research, public policy, and lived experience to make a positive difference in the lives of women and their families in Houston.”
The 25 women serving on Houston Women’s Commission represent a diverse cross-section of Houston:
Beth Matusoff Merfish, Carmen Peña Abrego, Elsa Caballero, Carvana Cloud, Elizabeth Gregory, Chau Nguyen, Angie Wiens-Talbert, Elizabeth Gonzalez Brock, Codi Wiener, Eureka Gilkey, Alison Young, Haley Crain Carter, Juliana Garaizar, Barbara Burger, Lori Choi, Tammi C. Wallace, Phyllis Frye, Rogene Calvert, Glenda Joe, Kristy Bridges, Christine S. Willie, Janalia Moreno, Nancy Macgregor, Tanuke Smith, Sima Ladjevardian