S.A. Council Approves Historic Resolution Calling for Gender Equity

San Antonio has become one of the first cities in the US to approve a resolution calling for complete 'gender equity' in women's safety, health, and economic opportunity,' News radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The resolution, approved unanimously by City Council, commits the City government toward stressing gender equity is all of its activities, from appointments to boards and commissions to funding and supporting health care initiatives, to taking steps wherever possible to end the gender gap in pay.  Council was told that women in San Antonio still earn an average of 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man in a similar job capacity.

Sophie Torres of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says gender equity in the workplace would lead to a major improvement in the city's economy.

"If women were paid the same as their male counterparts, and the value of unpaid work women usually perform were to become wage work, the GDP of the City of San Antonio could be as much as 40% higher.

City Council member Rebecca Viagran, who, along with the other two women on Council, Ana Sandoval and Shirley Gonzales, has been fighting hard for this resolution, says the best place the City could start will be to guarantee that there will be gender equity on the dozens of boards and commissions appointed by City Council.

"We as a body have to make sure that we are giving them that chance, because they are qualified, and they are ready to serve in our community," Viagran said, saying there remains what she called a 'patron mentality' in the City that has to come to an end.

Many analysts have seen not a little amount of sexism in last week's vote limiting the pay and tenure of future city managers.  They say, even though the measure does not affect current City Manager Sheryl Sculley, there is still a bias against 'ambitious' women in the San Antonio culture.

In addition to helping women succeed in the workplace, the resolution also calls for the City to focus on women's health, by stepping up the fight against domestic violence, which overwhelmingly impacts women, and working on programs to improve maternal outcomes.

And Viagran says dangers that may discourage women from getting involved in the workplace at high levels should be addressed as well.

"What does it feel like for a woman to walk by herself to a parking garage downtown at night," she asked.  "What is it that we need to do?"

She said since that is not an uncommon situation for a successful business executive to find herself in, these are areas which subconsciously may deter women from getting involved in those areas.

The resolution also calls for efforts across the city to eliminate 'implicit bias' against women, which is the feeling that women 'aren't cut out' for certain jobs or don't have the natural skills to succeed in some male dominant occupations.

The city can also use its significant contracting power to encourage all private companies that have contracts with the city to pay women and men on their staffs equally.  

An effort will also be made to encourage banks and other lenders to provide the growing number of female entrepreneurs with the same access to capital as their male counterparts.

Monica Trevino-Ochoa of the Latina Leadership Institute, says she made a disturbing discovery when she was researching photographs of women's rights marches dating back more than a century.

"When you put all of these signs in black and white, you really can't tell which era they're from because all the signs are the same," she said.  "Equal pay.  Gender parity.  Equal pay for equal work."

Trevino-Ochoa says she is very much fighting the same battle for gender equity that her mother fought thirty years ago, and she said she hopes that resolutions like this can help solve this issue once and for all, so her daughter is not fighting for gender equity thirty years from now.


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