50 Best to Worst States for Women: States 41-45

Idaho

The Lowdown

Women are active here and that’s great news, but their sad health insurance and preventive screening rates are a prescription for trouble.

The Good News

Eighty percent of Idaho women reported working out in the last month, which exceeds the national average of 74 percent. Childcare is affordable -- $6,200 per year for an infant – which is good news since the state’s fertility rate is among the nation’s highest: 16.5 babies per 1,000 people. And in November, 2011, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) broke party ranks to join Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to sponsor the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The bill would continue funding programs that assist domestic violence victims and fund new initiatives to prevent homicides, improve responses to sexual abuse and address domestic violence issues in the immigrant and LGBT communities.

The Bad News

Idaho women aren’t protecting their own health. They have the nation’s worst mammogram rate -- 36 percent of women over 40 have never been screened. Their Pap smear rate is nearly as bad -- 32 percent of women haven’t kept up with this vital test. Lack of health insurance coverage might be one reason -- 23 percent of women have to pay out-of-pocket for all heath care, higher than the national average of 19 percent. Idahoans have not sent a woman to congress in more than 10 years and have never had a female U.S. senator or governor. Fewer than one in four businesses is female-owned and the median salary is $30,403, 17 percent lower than the national average of $36,551 and 36 percent lower than what women make in #1-ranked Maryland -- $47,175. And the Idaho state Senate recently passed a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound prior to having an abortion.

 

Hear Us Roar

Idaho is home for several female Olympic Medalists including Skiing Champ Picabo Street, Road Bicyclist Kristin Armstrong and Gretchen Fraser, the first American woman to win a gold medal at the winter Olympics.

= 2.9

South Carolina

The Lowdown

South Carolina needs more women in politics -- aside from the governor, there are very few political role models.

The Good News

South Carolina has a program that provides low-income women contraceptive care and preventive screenings. That might be why the state’s Pap smear rate is better than most -- 78 percent of women have been screened within the last three years. Childcare is affordable -- $5,850 annually for an infant.

The Bad News

Political representation by women is abysmal in South Carolina. Yes, the state has a female governor, (Nikki Haley), but unfortunately her election is completely out of character for the South Carolina electorate. Of the two U.S. Senate seats and six House seats, none are held by a woman. It’s been nearly 20 years since a South Carolina woman has headed to Congress. Elizabeth Patterson, whose House term ended in 1993, was the last. And South Carolina has the lowest percentage of women in the state legislature: a mere 9.4 percent. Compare that to Colorado, where women hold 41 percent of seats in state government, the highest in the nation. (Take note: Colorado is way up higher on this list. Coincidence? Unlikely.) The number of uninsured women tops the national average -- 22 percent vs. 19 percent -- and South Carolina women rank among the five worst states when it comes to a healthy weight: two-thirds of women are overweight, 31 percent do not exercise and nearly 80 percent do not get their recommended fruits and vegetables. South Carolina women have a higher rate of poverty than the national average -- 17.6 percent vs. 14.5 percent and earn a median salary of just $31,518 per year.

Hear Us Roar

South Carolina native Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of The Children’s Defense Fund, was the first African-American woman admitted to the bar in Mississippi. Shannon Faulkner, who in 1995 took her fight to join the Army Corps of Cadets to the Supreme Court and had The Citadel’s male-only admission policy deemed unconstitutional, is also from The Palmetto State.

Score = 2.8

Indiana

The Lowdown

Indiana needs more females in positions of power in order to do a better job on the issues that matter most to women.

The Good News

Here’s some good news we’re hoping for. If selected by Gov. Mitch Daniels, Jane Ann Seigel will be the first woman in 13 years to sit on the bench of the Indiana Supreme Court. This would end Indiana’s distinction of being one of only two states in the country (Idaho is the other) that has an all-male supreme court. The percentage of women without health insurance is slightly lower than the national average -- 18.4 vs. 19 percent.

The Bad News

In February, state Rep. Bob Morris penned a letter to his fellow Republicans warning them of the “evils” of Girl Scouts: Its completely unfounded “affiliation” with Planned Parenthood, its “sexualizing young girls” and “promoting homosexual lifestyles.” Funny, we were sure the Girl Scouts, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary, was about building independence, character and confidence. Maybe that’s what people like Morris (who apologized after being lampooned by late night TV) are really afraid of. Indiana also cut funding to Planned Parenthood, denying access to reproductive health care to women. On top of that, it has no female representation in Congress, has never elected a woman governor or senator and its rate of women-owned businesses is lower than the national average: 26.8 percent vs. 28.7 percent.

Hear Us Roar

Former Today Show and Dateline NBC host Jane Pauley hails from Indianapolis. Tony award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp was born in Portland, Ind.

= 2.7

Louisiana

The Lowdown

Reproductive rights are being trounced in Louisiana, and women’s economic prospects are equally bad.

The Good News

Louisiana covers contraceptive and reproductive health care for women who earn too much to qualify for certain state and federal benefits but still need financial help paying for medical services. Childcare assistance is also available to families earning up to $35,868 and there’s no waiting list. One U.S. Senate seat is held by a woman -- Mary Landrieu.

The Bad News

Louisiana ranks last in NARAL Pro-Choice America’s ranking of all 50 states on reproductive rights issues. Why? Louisiana makes a woman wait 24 hours after seeing her doctor before getting an abortion, makes her undergo an ultrasound prior and has a law on the books that would ban abortion outright were Roe v. Wade to ever be overturned. Nearly one in four Louisiana women is uninsured, barely one in five women has a healthy diet and 19 percent of women live in poverty, second only to that of our worst-ranked state. Women’s median earnings are among the worst in the nation -- $30,600 -- and only 22 percent of women have a four-year college degree.

Hear Us Roar

Political Strategist Donna Brazile, who led Al Gore’s presidential campaign, is from Louisiana as is NPR Contributor Cokie Roberts.

= 2.6

Alabama

The Lowdown

Alabama has quite a few women in power seats in Washington and Montgomery, which gives us hope that it won’t remain this far down the list for long. (Here’s a tip: Alabama needs to elect more women to its state legislature. Right now the state is at just 14 percent and that’s pretty pathetic.)

The Good News

Two of Alabama’s seven House seats are held by women: Martha Roby (R-AL) and Terri Sewell (D-AL). Half of its statewide elected positions are held by women: lieutenant governor, public service commissioner, secretary of state, state treasurer and state auditor. Childcare is affordable: $5,350 per year for an infant, the second lowest rate in the nation. Women own 28.1 percent of all businesses, a smidge lower than the national average 28.7 percent.

The Bad News

Two-thirds of Alabama women are overweight or obese and one-third of women don’t exercise. Both factors increase their risk of heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. Women in Alabama are among the nation’s poorest, tied with Louisiana for a female poverty rate of 18.7 percent. Childcare assistance is meager: it’s only available for families earning less than $23,808 and there’s a long waiting list on top of that. Women seeking abortions in Alabama must first submit to an ultrasound and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure done.
 

Hear Us Roar

Lilly Ledbetter, whose fight against pay inequity led to a Supreme Court case and later the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which just marked its third anniversary, hails from Alabama. Civil Rights icons Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks, whose Montgomery Bus Boycott ignited the Civil Rights movement, are also from Alabama.

= 2.4
Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web