BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When it comes to women's issues, Louisiana's record is lacking. A study by Wallet Hub using census data ranked Louisiana as the worst state for women in 2016. In that study, Louisiana was third for the most women living in poverty and fourth for the number of female homicides. Louisiana also has the
second largest wage gap between men and women, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
"All of these different things, we can change that." Rep. Helena Moreno, (D)- New Orleans.
Representative Helena Moreno hopes to bring women's issues into the spotlight at the state capitol with a new group called Ignite Advocacy Network. The network will act like a kind of alert system for anyone interested in women's issues.
"Once there is a piece of legislation or a policy in play, we're going to alert you on what action you need to take, whether it's calling your legislature, writing a letter to the editors, or even appearing at a hearing," said Moreno.
The representative explains joining the network requires nothing more than entering an email and mailing address at igniteforchange.org. The newly launched network was inspired by what Moreno considers a series of unfortunate events for women during the 2016 legislative session. In May, lawmakers passed a bill raising the minimum age of exotic dancers from 18 to 21 as a way to combat human trafficking.
While the bill was being debated on the House floor, Representative Kenny Havard proposed an amendment adding a weight restriction, which drew the ire of his female colleagues. He immediately pulled the amendment and later said it was a joke to demonstrate what he considered government overreaching. The incident made national headlines. Moreno used it to launch a social media campaign called #itsnojoke to raise awareness about issues like equal pay and domestic violence.
Later that same week, a bill for equal pay for women failed in committee. "I started thinking to myself, where are we going wrong here," said Moreno. "It's time to bring these women's issues to the top and that's where we're going to make a difference."
Ignite Advocacy was her answer. Anyone can sign up to receive alerts from the network. It is a volunteer organization with no salaried employees, who work strictly on policy.