VERMONT COMMISSION ON WOMEN; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 53
(Senate - April 02, 2014)

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[Page S2091]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                      VERMONT COMMISSION ON WOMEN

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the Vermont Commission on Women this year 
celebrates its 50th anniversary. Established in 1964 by Vermont 
Governor Philip Hoff, the commission was established in response to a 
challenge presented by President Kennedy, urging every State in the 
country to create such commissions ``to encourage women to use their 
abilities, and to reduce discrimination against women.'' I am proud 
that Vermont's is one of the oldest continuously operating commissions 
in the United States.
  The commission's work is fueled by 16 volunteer commissioners, a team 
of advisors and a small but energetic staff. By advocating for new 
State laws and strengthening old ones, the commission has fought to 
reduce gender discrimination, achieve pay equity, support families and 
create job opportunities for women in my home State. Just last year, 
the commission was a strong force in strengthening provisions of 
Vermont's Equal Pay Act, so that women move closer to the reality of 
receiving equal pay for equal work. The law also extended protections 
so that employees could ask coworkers about their pay, and perhaps 
learn of disparities, without fear of retaliation.
  I have no doubt the commission's ongoing efforts have helped Vermont 
women narrow the gender pay gap, to 84 cents for every dollar earned by 
a man. Vermont is leading the way in this area: the national level 
finds women earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male 
counterparts. I am grateful to the commission for its ongoing support 
for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the Senate will consider in the 
coming weeks.
  The commission also serves as a needed source of information. Its 
handbook, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont, serves as a valuable 
guide for women who may find themselves in need of advice on matters 
such as adoption, employment rights, housing and divorce. The 
commission also conducts research, coordinates conferences and 
workshops, and engages in partnerships, all in the interest of 
furthering gender equality.
  Despite the great strides that have been made over five decades in 
Vermont and across the Nation, we know that many discriminatory issues 
affecting women still exist today, and that the need for the 
commission's work is still critical.
  The State of Vermont is very fortunate to have such a strong group 
advocating for women's rights. I have been proud to work with the 
Vermont Commission on Women for over 15 years on Vermont's Women's 
Economic Opportunity Conference, an annual event in Vermont that brings 
women of all different backgrounds together to talk about the 
challenges facing women in the work place.
  I am proud to acknowledge and honor the Vermont Commission on Women 
as it celebrates 50 years of leadership and achievement.