Editorial: Maryland women, let your voices be heard

Since the summer of 2016, the Maryland Commission for Women has been conducting listening tours across the state, called the Voices of Maryland Women project. The latest of 20 forums took place Monday night at McDaniel College in Westminster, put on in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to specifically address challenges facing young women and teenage girls, although all were welcome.

Mental health, women’s reproductive rights, the gender pay gap, rape culture, sexism, eating disorders and women in STEM were among the myriad topics discussed during Monday’s two-hour meeting, attended by women of all ages, races and ethnicities, including some recalling their own personal experiences with the topics.


Women in attendance reflected on the meeting as empowering and it was fascinating for many to learn they weren’t alone in their experiences, which speaks to the fact these are very real problems that require real solutions and resources.

The goal of the Voices project is to hear from female residents about their needs and concerns related to work, school, home and in their community. The Commission for Women then plans to use information gained from these public forums to develop legislative, policy and program recommendations to address those needs and concerns of women in the state.

It’s important that women’s voices are heard when it comes to legislative policy in Annapolis. Even in a progressive state like Maryland, our lawmakers are primarily men. Women make up about 35 percent of the seats in the House of Delegates. In the state Senate, just 11 of the 47 seats — less than 25 percent — are held by women.

Females who may have missed the most recent forum in Carroll County or any of the other previous listening sessions can still provide feedback and have their voice heard by filling out an online survey at

The survey asks respondents to consider the most important challenges facing women where we live, what barriers exist preventing women from getting help for these problems, how responsive government is to these problems and changes that could be made to improve the lives of women and girls in Maryland.

Monday’s meeting and the online survey are an excellent opportunity for women to speak up about the challenges they are facing. Not all of the challenges listed in the survey are exclusive problems to females, but may affect women and girls in ways that male lawmakers may not consider, because they have never been in their shoes.

We would hope that Carroll County women who might have been unaware of Monday’s listening session will take a few minutes to fill out the survey online, and add their voices to these important conversations, in an effort to make Maryland a better place for women.