Curtiss: Equal pay, a voice for the vulnerable if reelected as county commissioner

Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss

I come from a long line of strong women who worked hard and knew how to get things done. My grandmother was instrumental in getting Seeley-Swan High School built and my mom fought to improve access to rural health care in Missoula County.

Through their example, these two women have inspired me to devote my career to making sure women of all ages have a fair shake.

When crisis strikes, it’s often women who end up picking up the pieces and that is why I am committed to fighting for programs for Missoula County’s most vulnerable residents from newborns to seniors.

As your Missoula County Commissioner, I worked alongside other community leaders to develop programs to promote healthy babies and families. One of these was the Missoula City-County Health Department’s Nurse-Family Partnership. Through this program, women who are pregnant with their first child can enroll and receive regular visits from a registered nurse through the pregnancy until the baby is two years old.

Programs like this – that have a direct impact on the lives of Missoula County women and their families – are exactly why I am leading the fight to see common sense social justice and mental health solutions for our community.

While we’ve made important strides, our work is far from over.

On top of advocating for healthy families and communities, we need to get work done to make sure that as leaders of their families and communities, they have every tool to succeed. Women still only make 80% of what their male counter parts bring home and an estimated 66 percent of women are primary caregivers for seniors and newborns.

Female entrepreneurs have historically received just over 2 percent of available investor and venture capital funding with their male counterparts securing the remaining 98 percent. Women in the workplace experience sexual harassment at much higher rates – 74.4 percent of women have reported incidents in their places of employment. And while these statistics are staggering, recent studies have found that 81% of all women have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime.

These statistics are humbling and while women continue to make incredible strides towards equality and progress, there is so much work to be done. Now more than ever, we need to continue to advocate for equal pay for equal work and make sure our voices are heard and that the most vulnerable amongst us do not get left behind.

The women who inspired me most lived lives in service to their family, their neighbors, and their community. Serving you has been my greatest honor and I respectfully ask for your support as you vote in the primary election on June 5th.