Violence Against Women in California
Life expectancy of women: 80.2 years (for females born in 2006)
School life expectancy of women: Unavailable
Adult illiteracy: 23.1% (2003)
Unemployment of women: 10.7% (Sept. 2012)
Adult economic activity rate: 57.6% (percentage of women in the labor force in 2006)
Gender Equality
According to Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution, “All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”[1] While the California constitution does not specifically grant women equal rights, women played a key role in adopting the anti-discrimination clauses into the constitution.[2] California statutes also contain a number of anti-discrimination provisions that specific prohibit discrimination in a number of sectors and practices.[3]
At least as early as 1849, women in California could own their own property, although practically speaking they did not acquire a significant level of economic independence until at least the turn of the century.[4] However, California has been a center for the women’s rights movement for years, and today, the Office of the Attorney General even publishes its own Women’s Rights Handbook.[5]
Economic Considerations
California ranked 11th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s composite index for The Best and Worst State Economies for Women. The Institute gave California a grade of B-. Women who work full-time earned a median salary of $35,100.California ranks 4th in the nation for income parity between women and men who work full time, with women earning 82.6% of what their male counterparts earn.However, only 57.6% of women in California are in the labor force, giving the state a ranking of 39 on this measure. Of the employed women in California, 35.1% are in managerial or professional occupations, placing California in 12th place in this regard.
California has taken a pioneering approach to reducing violence against women, constantly re-evaluating the effectiveness of its laws and policies and ensuring the state follows best practices in preventing domestic violence and protecting victims. However, some areas of the law still require improvements. >>Learn more
In California in 2006, more than 9,000 incidents of forcible rapes were reported to the police. However, the actual number of rapes is probably much higher, since only 41% of rape and sexual assault victims report their victimization to the police. In addition, more than 6,000 cases of statutory rape were referred to prosection. >>Learn more
California has classified sexual harassment as an illegal form of sex discrimination under the California Constitution and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Like the federal Civil Rights Act, FEHA provides that it is an unlawful employment practice to refuse to hire, train or employ a person, or to “discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” based on or “because of . . . sex.” >>Learn more
California was one of the first states in the nation to criminalize human trafficking, passing a Trafficking Victims Protection Act in September of 2005. The Act made human trafficking a felony in California. It protected victims who were trafficked for forced labor or sexual services, and made no distinctions between these types of trafficking in persons. Human trafficking is currently addressed by a number of provisions in California law. >>Learn more

[2] Taming the Elephant: Politics, Government, And Law in Pioneer California (John F. Burns & Richard J. Orsi eds., 2003.