Gov. Brad Henry has appointed Deena Fisher, dean of Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Woodward, to serve on the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women.

Fisher, who was appointed in July, said she had been an advisory board member for the last three years on the commission, which acts in an advisory capacity to the Oklahoma Legislature.

The mission of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women is to improve the quality of life for women and families in Oklahoma, she said.

Twenty-four women serve on the commission as commissioners.

“We meet the last Thursday of the month at the Capitol (to discuss) three primary issues involving women,” Fisher said.

One of the issues involves women in leadership positions. Another involves women who are incarcerated. And the third involves women’s health.

“In the past, women have been an under-served area,” Fisher said. “We want to bring to light issues involved with women in the state.”

Fisher said that Oklahoma has a high rate of incarceration of women compared to other states.

“We address that,” she said.

For example, the commission met with women in a Tulsa half-way house who were ready to re-enter society after incarceration, she said. “We asked them why they were incarcerated and what they were doing to fit back into society.”

“We also address struggles related to women’s healthcare, and we recognize women in leadership roles through the Women’s Hall of Fame.”

The commission also studies the nutritional needs of young women and any other issues the Legislature might want addressed.

“Mainly what we do is send fact sheets (showing results of studies) to our congressmen and track bills affecting women,” Fisher said.

“It is a nice honor,” Fisher said of her appointment.

The Oklahoma Legislature created the commission in 1994 to act as an advisory entity on equity issues relating to gender bias; monitor legislation to determine whether it is discriminatory toward one gender or the other; act as a resource or clearinghouse for research on issues related to women and gender bias; report annually to the governor, president pro tempore of the senate and speaker of the house of representatives; and make recommendations concerning needed legislation or regulatory changes relating to equity and gender bias.

The commission consists of 30 members, all women, who serve staggered five-year terms.

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