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The following was written and submitted by Miritt Comforti.
Wyoming needs to hear more women’s voices in relation to the issues the state faces. Plenty of political discussion exists in Wyoming revolving around economic diversification and public lands, but scant attention is paid to issues deemed as “women’s issues.”
So-called “women’s issues” are economic issues, and they directly affect our wallets. Previous and current investment in women has demonstrated direct benefits to taxpayers.
A prime example is Climb Wyoming, a non-profit organization for low-income single mothers providing self-sufficiency through career training. The Climb program and Climb graduates save Wyoming taxpayers millions each year from decreased food stamp usage and reliance on public health insurance.
When we invest in a woman’s well being, we are investing in the betterment of her family and our community. When women have the opportunity to experience a sense of independence and self-worth, they provide a return on investment by strengthening our communities through their own self-determination.
These women are not looking for handouts. Climb experiences long waiting lists each year to enter the program. The women waiting and the women graduating are determined to improve their lives and the lives of their children.
Therefore it is our responsibility to understand the connection between ignoring them and paying more taxes, versus paying attention to them and reducing our tax burden.
By framing women in poverty as lazy and dependent people looking for handouts, we undermine our own aims to reduce our taxes. Indeed, it is we who are choosing the lazy way out by dismissing our neighbors and dismissing creative solutions.
We need to stop dismissing women by condescendingly saying “women’s issues” and start challenging ourselves to think a little deeper. And Wyoming women need to start speaking up for themselves and each other by defining these issues as economic issues.
Investment in women’s self-determination is a win-win economic issue, and it is in Wyoming’s collective best interest.