Women's Commission
Executive Summary

The Women's Commission is an agency of state government, created by the Legislature in 1977 to advocate and educate on issues relating to women. The West Virginia Women's Commission is an office within the Department of Health and Human Resources. According to WV Code §29-20-1, the commission consists of eighteen members, of which seven are ex-officio non- voting members. The eleven voting members are appointed by the Governor. The Commission staff consists of a full-time executive director, an office manager, and a shared position consisting of a part-time program developer and communications manager. The agency operates on a general revenue budget of $80,000 per year.

ISSUE 1: The Women's Commission Significantly Overlaps Other Programs That Address Women's Issues, and It has been Ineffective in Improving the Status of Women.

The Women's Commission is responsible for studying women's issues, and disseminating information on the status of West Virginia women, with the expressed outcome of improving the status of West Virginia women. Although the Women's Commission is effective in disseminating information, statistics show that West Virginia women continue to lag behind the rest of the nation in several important areas. The method of disseminating information to improve women's status has proven to be ineffective. Furthermore, there is significant overlap between the Women's Commission and other programs that affect women. Since the creation of the Women's Commission, many state and federal programs have emerged that are designed to address the same issues that the Women's Commission must address as part of its mandate. These programs also have the statutory responsibility to disseminate information on women's issues to the public and to the Legislature, and to provide information on the services offered. These programs are also required to advocate for legislative changes on issues affecting women.

The conclusion of this report recommends the discontinuance of the Women's Commission. Discontinuing it would have no significant adverse effects to the state. Much of what the Women's Commission does duplicates the efforts of longstanding and recently established programs. The Commission has produced several publications on women compiled from several data sources. However, many of the data sources are the same programs that the Commission overlaps. Consequently, much of the data reported by the Commission is also reported by other programs. Furthermore, based on a comparison of state and national statistics, there is no evidence that the Commission has improved the status of women in West Virginia.