The Council on the Status of Women evolved from a 1970 House study of women's issues. The purpose of the 19-member advisory council, as defined in the Code of Virginia, is "to identify ways in which women can reach their potential and make their full contribution to society and this Commonwealth as wage earners and citizens."
But it should be abolished, asserts Delegate M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, in a bill recently passed by the House and under consideration in the Senate. The council lost its funding in 1991, Cox's office points out, and it has been inactive for the past three years as its members' terms expired.
In addition, since 1991 some of the council's responsibilities have been taken over by the Health and Human Resources and Social Services departments. There is also a women's discussion roundtable that meets on Wednesday mornings at the General Assembly and that is open to the public.
There are at least 25 other measures to eliminate some of the 300 boards and committees across the state, the result of a cleanup effort by a General Assembly committee established last year. Among the other groups on the chopping block are the Virginia Scenic River Board, the State Public Records Advisory Council and the Blue Ridge Economic Development Advisory Council.
The proposal to end the women's council passed by an 80-20 vote in the House. Not much fanfare has resulted, says Bill Flanagan, Cox's legislative aide. "But," he adds, "nothing ever amazes me."
Hannah, of NOW, wants to see the women's council survive, citing what she says is a recent decline in women's-rights issues.
And Delegate James Almand, D-Arlington, voted to save the council. "Historically, it had provided an avenue for advocating women's issues," Almand says. "And historically, it had done good work."