Letter: Caucus puts women’s needs first

Since 1936 when the first woman was sworn into the Louisiana Legislature, women have worked diligently to earn every legislative seat held. In the past 20 years, the number of women had increased steadily in the Legislature, but during the last election cycle, the numbers dropped significantly from 25 women to 16. This is truly of great concern to me and my fellow women legislators serving in the Louisiana House and Senate.

As compared with other states, we are not seeing a significant number of women in leadership roles. For example, 51 percent of Louisiana residents are women, but only 11 percent of the Louisiana Legislature is composed of women, which ranks our state 50th among all states in the number of women serving in state legislatures.

In addition, during recent research conducted by the women legislators, we found women only composed approximately 25 percent of all elected public offices held in Louisiana prior to the fall 2012 elections.

Even more notable, we have absolutely no women serving in statewide offices and only one woman serving in U.S. Congress from Louisiana.

In light of the aforementioned facts, I wanted all Louisiana women to know there is a group of dedicated, hard-working, qualified women, who are not sitting idle, but are tirelessly working to help identify, develop and equip current and future women leaders.

Who is this group of women? We are the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus, which is composed of the 16 women legislators who serve in the Legislature and of which I am a proud member.

Our mission is to serve as the premier voice and leading monitor on all issues impacting Louisiana women and their interests, to encourage and teach women how to become leaders and to fight for the women and children of our great state.

The women legislators, since 2008, have honored and recognized extraordinary Louisiana women for their excellence in leadership, profession, academics, community service, character and integrity through the Women of Excellence Awards and Scholarship Program. The Women’s Caucus, through its foundation, has also awarded $13,000 in scholarships since 2010 to deserving women to advance their education with the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus Foundation Scholarships and the Educational Advancement Opportunity Scholarships. Individuals can apply for the awards and scholarships by visiting the Women’s Caucus website at http://www.llwc.louisiana.gov to download the nomination forms and the scholarship applications. The deadline is Friday.

State Rep. Karen St. Germain, chairwoman

Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus

Plaquemine