Carroll should join the 13 Maryland counties that already have women's commissions, and the county's State House delegation should enthusiastically support legislation needed to create such an organization during the next session.
Why does Carroll need a women's commission? Women make up 50.7 percent of the county's population. They need an institutional voice to represent them in county government. For too many years, people mistakenly thought government agencies adequately addressed women's needs. Now they know otherwise.
Why not create a men's commission at the same time, as some critics have suggested? We already have one; it's called state government. Men and their concerns have always been well represented in Annapolis.
Such issues as day care, after-school care, teen pregnancy and gender discrimination have not been a high priority for many male leaders. They are, however, important issues for women that often fail to receive the attention they deserve.
A women's commission will help ensure an institutional voice that calls attention to these and other matters germane to women. Such a commission will also give women an opportunity to develop necessary contacts and skills to become community leaders.
Does the creation of a women's commission give special consideration to one group at the expense of the rest of the population? No more so than Carroll County having created a Bureau of Aging to provide needed services to its elderly or a children's council that focuses on issues pertaining to the county's youth. When the legislature determined that certain citizen needs were not being addressed, new government agencies were created to deal with them. Women's needs in Carroll fall into that category.
There is, however, no reason for a women's commission to become a large bureaucracy. It may need money to pay for postage, newsletters and meetings. It may also need a small office, but there is no requirement for paid staff. Volunteers will gladly undertake its work.
Creating a commission in Carroll to work on behalf of women's issues is an appropriate step to ensure that such concerns will no longer be ignored, as in the past.