By Lillian Bowe
The Portales News-Tribune, N.M.
March is gender equality month which brings awareness to equality of men and women.
A huge gap for women is politics. Women held 24 percent of the 7,383 seats in state legislatures nationwide in 2013, according to the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
Only 20 out of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and 78 out of 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are occupied by women.
The state of New Mexico has 25 women in the House and six women in the Senate. Women therefore hold 27.7 percent of the seats in the New Mexico legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retiring state lawmaker Anna Crook, one of the 25 women in the House, said there is room for more women.
“It would be great to see more women, but there are obstacles for both men and women in New Mexico as the session lasts 60 days.
For women who are the bread winners, it is hard from them to ask for 60 days off,” Crook said.
Crook said some women are more effective in leadership due to the compromises they have to make throughout their lives.
“Women have to make compromises when it comes to children and jobs which men rarely have to make,” Crook said.
Crook said it would be a win-win for everyone to have more women running for office and making the hard decisions when it comes to running New Mexico.
Among the few women running for office in local June 3 primary elections are both candidates for the Ninth Judicial District Attorney, Clovis lawyer Jennifer Burrill and incumbent Andrea Reeb.
Gov. Susana Martinez was the first Hispanic woman elected governor in the U.S. and just one of five women hold a governorship nationwide.
New Mexico also elected Soledad Chavez de Chacon, the first Hispanic woman to win a statewide election, as the state’s first female Secretary of State in 1922.
However the percent of women in New Mexico holding office is low.
Only three states — Arizona, Colorado and Vermont — can boast 35 to 44 percent women in their legislatures.