Volume 1, Edition 5
A word from the First Lady of Louisiana
As we recognize National Women’s History Month this March, we are reminded of just how far our state and nation have come because of the meaningful contributions of women from all backgrounds. Hopefully, they serve as inspiration to everyone about what can be accomplished as we keep moving the ball forward. When women do better, children do better, families do better, communities do better and our state does better.
Establishing fair and equal pay in the workplace is among the issues that directly impacts Louisiana families. There is no denying the strong evidence that clearly shows many women are still short-changed today, earning less than their male counterparts for the same work. Because the wage gender gap exists, everyone loses out. It causes greater struggles for families that are already having a difficult time making ends meet when it comes to basic necessities such as food, rent and childcare. Some have to work extra jobs to stay afloat. This is an issue that concerns men, women and children. That’s why it’s important to know the facts.
In Louisiana, we have the highest gender wage gap in the United States. White women earn 70 cents on the dollar compared to White men. Black women earn far less, 47 cents for every dollar earned by a White man. Across the country, White women earn 79 cents, Black women earn 63 cents and Latina women earn 54 cents for every dollar paid to men. Those are the facts, despite the laws that are on the books now. Clearly, more needs to be done.
Another fact, although a majority of Louisianans support pay equality and fairness, it will take action in the state legislature to make this a reality. That’s why I’m so proud that Gov. John Bel Edwards, my husband, is committed to doing the right thing when it comes to this issue. During the upcoming legislative session, he will push for ending pay secrecy which would allow employees (men and women) to discuss their wages without fear of losing their jobs, which can happen today. Research shows that pay transparency helps close the wage gap for everyone.
There is power in numbers and as a former teacher, I have seen what kind of positive difference can be made when parents, teachers, students and communities come together for the benefit of our children and educators. We are fortunate to have so many people understand the importance of supporting and valuing the work that we do. Standing in the gap for our brothers and sisters who need our help in fighting for their families is important for the future of all Louisianans and our state. Silence should not be an option. And for anyone who thinks that this is not their issue, I implore you to find out more. As we encourage the young women in our lives – our daughters, nieces and granddaughters to continue their education and enter the workforce, this is a real issue for them. As they begin to start families, this is a real issue for them. It is an issue that directly impacts women of all races, socio economic and educational backgrounds and consequently their families.
Imagine what a difference equal pay for equal work would make for families. Imagine that as we raise the next generation, this issue will no longer be their worry or their fight. When we know better, we should do better and equal pay for equal work is better for everyone.
WOMEN\’S HISTORY MONTH
Director of Women\’s Policy
Office of the Governor
March is National Women’s History month, a time for us to celebrate the contributions that women have made to the advancement and well-being of our country. In Louisiana, you don’t have to look far to find incredible women who’ve worked tirelessly to improve our lives. Rather than a rising tide lifting all ships, let’s think of these women and each of us as links on a chain. As we thread our arms together and connect our work, from the small acts to the big acts, from the past to the future, we are building an unbreakable force that is hoisting our country a little bit closer to the safe, equal and prosperous future that we all desire.
Louisa Williams Robinson, a Coushatta woman born in 1855, served as a tradition bearer, passing along her community’s values, stories and language to her children and grandchildren. Coushatta women, through their role in trade, helped increase understanding and protection of the preservation of their culture. With the skills learned in making and trading items, and despite not knowing how to read or write English, Robinson successfully navigated legal systems to fight for the rights to her father’s property and the transfer of her property to her children. Her daughter, Sissy, became one of the first native women to receive land under the Indian Homestead Act. She was single and only 18, navigating the legal system through her mother’s influence and focus on education. This was the only land brought into trust by the federal government, which helped to reestablish the Coushatta’s status as a federally-recognized tribe. Continuing the generational pattern of legal prowess, Sissy’s daughter, Annie, successfully fought for custody of her younger siblings upon the death of her parents, a role typically conveyed to men.
Louisiana First Foundation
Yes Mam, No Mam, Thank you Mam = Teach MAM!
SHOWCASE: Artist Kai Drobish
Some people collect coffee spoons or antique Coke bottles, but for those who love hometown buildings, ceramic artist Kai Drobish opens up a whole new world of collecting. Modeling area landmarks on 5X7 inch hand-built tiles, this artwork can be hung side-by-side to create an entire town on your living room wall or singly to honor a favorite place as an “architectural memory”.
Notes Kai, “Growing up with an artistic mother, I seemed to be always making things. Upon entering college, I became a ceramic major – fun, joy, loved it! But around my junior year I panicked thinking that I had to major in something that would translate into a ‘real’ career. I graduated from LSU with a BA in Political Science and the funny thing is that 15 years later, here I am working as a full-time ceramic artist! I can’t believe my luck – making my living doing something I love!”
WE ARE OPEN
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Ladies of Louisiana Making a Difference
The Governor grew up eating his momma’s Oyster Soup, especially at Christmastime. He now cooks his own version during the holidays! Enjoy this recipe for Oyster Soup!