(Update: Here’s the full report – pdf)
11:07 a.m. Erica Williams, study director, Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (this section was incorrectly identified earlier.)
Strong predictor of health for girls in Minnesota is laid in family’s economic situation. Girls more likely than boys to grow into poverty. Female-headed families make up the largest share of poor families (71% of poor African American families are headed by a woman).
Tells a story of two Minnesota. “Girls of color in Minnesota are more likely to be poor than girls of color as a whole.”
11:09 a.m. Rep. Neva Walker
Focuses on girls’ reproductive health. Teens of color more likely to be pregnant than white girls. Highest birth rates are among Hispanic girls. “On the whole, Minnesota girls feel worse among themselves than boys do.” Girls’ self esteem declines around 9th grade.
American Indian girls most likely of all groups to commit suicide.
“As a parent of a 20-year-old myself, I now firsthand the need to delay pregnancy.”
11:13 Suzanne Koepplinger, exec. dir. Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center.
While most Minnesota girls see school as a safe place, responses from students of color paint a different picture. American Indian girls — 1 of 5 — are more likely to report sexual abuse. Girls are engaged in negative behavior to complicate the problems. Girls are more likely to do drugs. American Indian girls are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol to escape their feelings. “It’s three times as bad, and 70-percent of sexual violence isn’t reported, so we don’t even know how bad it is.”
“No one seems to be paying attention to this disproportionate share of the problem.”
11:17Sandra Vargas, pres of The Minneapolis Foundation:
Girls in Minnesota are substantially less prepared for college than boys.
(ed note: will up some graphics later)
Girls are being trained to start family role at an early age, limiting their opportunities. In the Latino community “we have the highest number of dropouts. If they get to high school, the kids aren’t finding the welcoming kind of environment, where their academic achievements are supported.”
Girls of color don’t get supportive messages from the system. “It is a problem that we are counting on these young girls to positively affect our economic quality of life and yet we have not done much of anything to change the kind of attitudes and interface that these young girls have with institutions they face every day. After awhile, when you get the message that you don’t matter, you begin to think that of yourself.”
She says the problem is acute among people here illegally. “When your parents are trying to be invisible and they’re telling you to be invisible, we’re all in trouble.”
Q: Surprised or does this affirm existing understanding?
A: We had some “ah ha’s”. Shocking to learn ACT disparities even though they’re working harder in school (than boys). Disparity in girls of color among every facet of the research tells us we need to do something.
Walker: I blame the press and policy makers. We’ve known this for years.
Q: What is the solution?
A: That’s a big question. Why don’t we have mandated comprehensive sexual education in our schools? How do we ensure there’s extracurricular after-school funding?
“We need more women of color to run for office.”
Vargas: “We don’t have the political will to do intervention and prevention. We have the political will to build more prisons.”
(Observation: The hearing room at the Capitol is full. The only men here appear to be reporters/photographers)
Q: We are neglecting the core problem which is male. (I don’t think this is a reporter asking the question). I don’t see any men here. How are you involving them.
A: The Women’s Foundation has been around for 25 years. Like a lot of different movements, you kind of start with an empowerment basis and model. These are the type of strategic questions our board is looking at because we know if we want to make cultural change, we have to involve men.
Walker: “Our kids are going through something vastly different than what we went through. If you’re a white , 60 year old man, it’s very difficult for you to understand what a 10-year-old Latino girl is going through.”
Q: This battle has been going on for years. Why is this not happening? I assume you agree there has to be a fundamental change in attitude to eliminate these disparities. How can you get at changing these basic attitudes and has there been any progress?
A: Walker: We have 70 of 201 legislators who are women. One of the difficulties is the Legislature does not move quickly. Things take time. Even though we know what the statistics say, we wouldn’t get it all. Sometimes it takes a couple of years. Out of 134 reps, 56 individuals have less seniority than me. That’s an opportunity for Minnesota to talk to their legislators. That change is coming.
(Walker is not running for re-election)
Discuss this in the comments section.