Hello, and welcome on behalf of the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW). Women have achieved and excelled in many areas. Mississippi women serve and thrive as business leaders, elected officials, members of our state judiciary and legal profession, educators, health professionals, artists and performers, community activists and military and law enforcement officials, while at the same time supporting families. However, as a gender, women continue to face a number of unique barriers to recognizing full participation in all aspects of society and the economy. While over one half of Mississippians are female, women continue to be underrepresented in policy-making roles in county and municipal government and state government, in elected or appointed positions. A lack of wrap-around services such as affordable legal, health, child care services and transportation services, violence in our communities, and limited mentoring and training programs to encourage young women to explore traditionally male-dominated fields all adversely impact the ability of women to reach their goals and full potential. As we move forward to address these gaps, improving women's participation in the workforce and political process, access to legal services, access to preventive healthcare, and addressing violence against women will be the four focus areas of the MCSW serving as a basis for our activities during 2016.
Women of our state deserve to be heard, and to have their needs addressed in a realistic manner. Thus, it is with a sense of deep responsibility that the appointed members of MCSW begin the new year. I am honored to have been selected by my peers to serve as Chair, and I am looking forward to an active and productive 2016! We are excited about our new website and our new direction in guiding our local and state leaders and policy-makers with regard to the overall improvement of the lives of Mississippi's women.
- Heather P. Wagner, Chair