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, that is committed to supporting the Women's Equality Act.
"Seventy-five percent of NYSUT members are women," said Neira, who represented the statewide union at a press event in March to announce the coalition's formation. "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 coalition will press state lawmakers to approve the 10-point Women's Equality Act, which aims to break down barriers that perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality. The act calls for:
stopping sexual harassment in the workplace;
stronger human trafficking laws;
better protection for victims of domestic violence;
recovering attorneys' fees in employment and credit lending cases;
ending family status discrimination;
stopping source-of-income discrimination;
ending housing discrimination for domestic violence victims;
ending pregnancy discrimination;
enacting the Reproductive Health Act; and
achieving pay equity.
"Women still suffer inequality in every sector of society," said Christine Sadowski, executive director of the YWCA Orange County, which joined the coalition. "New York state leads the way in many progressive issues. We are excited to lead the way in equality for women."
Women in New York state earn only 84 percent of men's earnings, and the gap is even more pronounced for African-American and Hispanic women.
"It's time to turn up the volume of the voices of women and break down decades-old barriers to women's success," said Cynthia DiBartolo, CEO of Tigress Financial Partners, another coalition partner.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said she is confident the act will succeed. "New Yorkers know that what's good for women is good for New York and for society," she said.
Other speakers at the coalition's announcement included Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters of New York State; Dina Bakst, co-president of A Better Balance; 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."
For more information about the coalition and to show your support, visit http://nywomensequality.org/.