Speaking before a packed room, NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira joined dozens of supporters to launch New York for Women's Equality - a coalition of nearly 500 statewide organizations, including NYSUT - committed to supporting the Women's Equality Act this legislative session.
"Fully 75 percent of NYSUT members are women," said Neira, who represented the statewide union at the event. "We are deeply committed to achieving equality, not only for today's generations of women, but for our students, who are the future of New York state."
The 10-point Women's Equality Act is aimed at breaking down barriers perpetuating gender discrimination and inequality. These include stopping sexual harassment in the workplace; strengthening human trafficking laws; better protecting victims of domestic violence; and achieving pay equity.
The coalition reports that New York state women earn only 84 percent of men's earnings; the gap is even more pronounced for African-American and Hispanic women.
"Women still suffer inequality in every sector of society," said Christine Sadowski, executive director of the YWCA Orange County, who moderated the event. "New York state leads the way in many progressive issues. We are excited to lead the way in equality for women."
Other speakers included Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters of New York State; Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and Anne Pope, director of the Northeastern Region of the NAACP. Other coalition members include the New York State AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York and Family Planning Advocates of New York State.
"When we improve equity for women, we improve conditions for their children," said Neira. "This is essential to increasing student success at school, raising graduation rates and expanding opportunities for our college graduates in the workplace - it's a package deal."