The Santa Monica City Council has agreed to implement a list of recommendations designed to enhance the quality of life for women and girls living in Santa Monica.

The city Commission on the Status of Women presented the recommendations in its 2004 report to the City Council Tuesday, December 14th.

The 2004 report expands on a previous draft report presented to the City Council in 2002.

“We are an active group now and City Council gives us great ideas and support,” said Tia Skulski, commission chair.

“They are willing to work with us on any issues we have,” she said.

Report statistics were compiled by the commission using data from the 2000 Census, the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, the RAND Corporation, the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Police Department and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Councilmembers voted to accept this year’s report and direct staff to implement several recommendations, including asking the City Council, city staff and community organizations to:

n address the issue of affordable housing for a high percentage of low-income women.

The report says that 32 percent of women and 42 percent of minority women living in the Pico Neighborhood have low incomes.

n meet the special needs of a growing population of elderly women.

Age distributions for males and females are almost equal until the age of 70. Women 70 and older make up 13 percent of the total population of women. Men 70 and older make up 8.5 percent of the total population of men.

n discover why girls in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have a very low high school dropout rate despite typical obstacles such as teen pregnancy, poverty and family violence.

Girls make up 44 percent of the enrollment in the district’s two public high schools within the City of Santa Monica — Santa Monica High School and Olympic High School — yet the dropout rate for girls is one percent, while boys have a four percent dropout rate.

n assure the public that women are not worried about employment discrimination, since 37 percent of women in Santa Monica identify themselves as “not in the workforce,” which is different than being unemployed and still looking for work.

The commission said 37 percent is high and the commission wants to know what is involved in the 37 percent — whether worries about employment discrimination exist or those women are retired, students or just personally decided to not work.

n assure the public that women who are self-employed or work part-time have adequate access to healthcare and retirement benefits.

Of all the Santa Monica residents who are self-employed, 38 percent are women. Of all the residents who work part-time, 62 percent are women.

n identify and remedy factors that cause a “vast” income gap between women and men in Santa Monica.

The median income of women in Santa Monica ($31,899) is lower than the median income of men ($51,068) and the median income of all Santa Monica residents ($39,470).

Of all Santa Monica residents who earn more than $55,000 per year, only 30 percent are women.

n address the issue of an increasing demand for childcare, especially during “nontraditional” work hours.

Fifty-six percent of Santa Monica mothers work outside the home and 62 percent of those working mothers have children under age six.

n collect more data and further communicate the rates of domestic violence and crimes against women.

Statistics provided to the commission by the Santa Monica Police Department indicate that 37 percent of violent crime victims and 42 percent of aggravated assault victims last year were women.

Seventeen women and three men last year reported to police a rape or attempted rape. Fifty-five women and 15 men last year reported a domestic violence incident.

n compile voting statistics and political affiliation by gender to ensure that women are fully aware of and represented in government policymaking processes; and

n compare the status of women and girls in Santa Monica with women and girls who live in Los Angeles County and throughout California so the commission can bring into Santa Monica programs that are successful elsewhere.

“Santa Monica is absolutely a great city for women and girls,” Skulski said. “We just have to make sure that we deal with issues that arise.”

Skulski said public input to the report focused on ways to get more women elected to City Council.

The commission will identify why men make up the majority of members on the City Council and other city governing agencies.

“We don’t know what the barriers are,” Skulski said. “I am sure there are capable women out there. We have to let women know the avenues to serving on a city board or commission, which will help them in a City Council election.”

The commission may start a recruiting network so that other boards and commissions can choose members from a bigger and better pool of women, Skulski said.

She also said she is pleased that councilmembers voted for Pam O’Connor — the only woman on the City Council — to be the city mayor.

“A role like that is important,” Skulski said. “O’Connor is a leader and a role model, a woman that men and women can look up to.”

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