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Advocates Convene at Teamsters Union Hall to Support Women’s Equality Agenda

84 Groups and Businesses Across the Hudson Valley Unite to Empower New York Women by Supporting Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda

Contacts

Lisa Winjum, 914.467.7310/203.952.6028 (cell)
Tiffany Card, 845.337.1999 (cell)


Published: | Updated: 04.04.13

[Rock Tavern, NY]— Dozens of advocates stood with the New York Women’s Equality Coalition today to show they were united in their vigorous support of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda.  The group announced the formation of a Hudson Valley regional chapter comprised of more than 80 business leaders, women’s groups, labor groups, civil rights organizations, medical associations, and religious groups.

The event, held at the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO/International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 445 Union Hall, was one of eight scheduled across the state to demonstrate broad support of this historic Agenda.
During his January 9 State of the State address, the Governor presented the Women’s Equality Agenda, a 10-point plan to break down barriers women face in the most essential areas of life. The Women’s Equality Agenda will reduce discrimination in the workplace and in housing, improve women’s safety and wellbeing, and ensure equal treatment under the law. Support for the Governor’s Agenda began to grow immediately following his announcement and, to date, more than 650 businesses and organizations make up the statewide coalition.

“The unfortunate reality is women are still struggling in many areas of our society, bringing economic instability to our local families, businesses and communities,” said Christine Sadowski, executive director of the YWCA of Orange County.

  • Women in New York earn 84 percent of what men earn, and that disparity is even more drastic for African American and Hispanic women.
  • Eighty-eight percent of public assistance cases for families are filed by women, and 71 percent of public housing units are occupied by female-headed households.
  • Women who are pregnant or have children are less likely to be hired, promoted, or given raises.
  • Women are five times more likely than men to be sexually harassed, and one in four women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime.
  • Inequality persists throughout the course of a woman’s life, meaning a woman is twice as likely as a man to live out old age in poverty.

 “New York has the power to solve many of these problems by simply amending state law,” Sadowski continued.  “Empowering women to once again make history in New York—the birthplace of the women’s rights movement a century and a half ago—requires that we level the playing field for women in the state.”

This Agenda, and the extraordinary range of businesses and groups supporting it in the Hudson Valley and throughout the state, underscores that full equality for women cannot be achieved by taking partial steps or by focusing solely on a single barrier to equality. Rather, the Governor has proposed an ambitious Agenda that recognizes that women’s struggles, and the solutions, are all interconnected.

 “We believe that passage of the Women’s Equlity Agenda would be a monumental step forward for the thousands of low-wage women workers that we serve each year.  By addressing gender-based income inequities and ensuring that victims of discrimination, domestic abuse, human trafficking, and other forms of abuse are able to achieve justice, New York can set a national standard for workplace fairness and equality,” said Milan Bhatt, co-executive director of the Worker Justice Center of NY.

“The Women’s Equality Agenda recognizes that a woman, with the full force of the law, is responsible for her own health and reproductive health decisions,” said Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, a pastor at St. Bartholomew’s Church in White Plains. “As a pastor, I assert that it is not the state, but the woman, who has the moral authority to decide according to her own conscience.  Decisions about a pregnancy must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider, and if she chooses, her religious tradition."

"Governor Cuomo's Women’s Equality Agenda addresses some of the most disparaging and pervasive gender inequalities in our state and is a much-needed complement to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act,” said Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, executive director of Safe Homes of Orange County.  “Victims of domestic violence and human trafficking are often re-victimized by chronic gaps in services, and discriminatory practices within the systems and communities tasked with addressing the violence. That is why we applaud Governor Cuomo’s WEA and its demands for greater equity and protections for victims. We look forward to the kind of change this legislation will effect in the way we respond to victims and the services we offer them," she continued.

“Inequality in any form cannot be tolerated,” said Beth Soto, executive director of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (HVALF).  “We’re proud to work with good government groups, civil and women’s rights organizations, and so many others in answering Governor Cuomo’s call to stamp out gender inequality.  The Labor Movement has always been a leader in the fight for social and economic justice, and we look forward to advancing a comprehensive equality agenda, particularly in the workplace, in 2013.”

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