The California Budget & Policy Center, a non-profit research organization that studies political economy, recently released an interactive web tool to show how women and their families are faring in the state.
The California Women’s Well-Being Index shows how qualities such as women’s health, political participation and economic standing differ in certain counties and cities.
The index, which was made possible with the help of the Women’s Foundation of California, also breaks down social issues by race. This index allows users to see how many women of a certain group participate in the labor force or got delayed medical treatment. In doing so, it highlights some of the disparities between ethnic groups, forcing many others to re-examine what policies and attitudes are in place that keep people from being socially or economically mobile.
The California Women’s Well-Being Index studies qualities, like how long it takes a woman to commute to her job, that in the eyes of some may seem unimportant. Nonetheless, the nonpartisan organization recognizes that factors like this one contribute to a cohesive and engaged society.
In another instance, the Center’s press release explains how accessing affordable housing for single mothers remains a key issue. Women in this situation pay, on average, 60.1% of their income for a two-bedroom apartment. Since the age-old adage of paying rent is to pay no more than one-third of your income for housing, this is incredibly alarming, and speaks volumes not only to the amount that some pay for this standard of living, but about what some must be making to try and to make ends meet.
“The California Women’s Well-Being Index provides an entirely new way to gain insights into the experiences of women and their families,” Chris Hoene, Executive Director of the Budget Center, said in the press release. “We believe that providing a wealth of timely information that goes down to the county level, and is easy to access and use, can help drive the kinds of policy changes that help women advance.”
Local media outlets for counties listed in the California Women’s Well-Being Index have already picked up stories about the interactive tool’s findings. People are shocked about how their counties fare in the rankings, noting that so many of these problems are interlinked. For example, a county with higher unemployment rates for women may also have higher rates of obesity or lower voter turnout. All findings could be used as starting points for change if more states adopt this tool, according to representatives from the Center.
“The California Women’s Well-Being Index is an important and highly valuable tool for championing the rights of all women in our state,” Surina Khan, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of California, said in the press release. “The Index equips state and local decision-makers, advocates, and philanthropy with critical information to push for policy and systems change that can ensure economic well-being and equal opportunity for women, and a stronger and more prosperous California for all.”