January/February 2019 Issue
December 15, 2018

NYSUT Women’s Committee focuses on activism and capacity building

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT United
nysut women's committee
Caption: Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Aisha Cook is a woman of action. So when members of the NYSUT Women’s Committee were called on to form women’s groups back in their communities, Cook went to work.

Using the 10-step guide the committee developed to help members organize women’s committees locally, Cook posted a sign up sheet and background information at a “sticking with our union” party her local hosted in November. “About 10 women signed up that day," said Cook, vice president of the New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees. She hopes to grow the committee to 30. “I also wrote about it in our newsletter and got some more sign-ups from that."

At a late November organizing meeting, the fledgling New Rochelle committee discussed plans for the women’s rallies in January and made posters for the event. “We’re deciding whether we want to stay local or travel to the Washington, D.C.,” said Cook noting that future plans include a Women’s History Month commemoration in March, and hosting speakers from a local domestic violence prevention organization.

aisha cook
Aisha Cook.

Be the change

Forming local committees isn’t the only charge from the NYSUT committee meeting. NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, committee chair, encouraged members to keep standing strong.

“While it has been an incredible year of resistance, persistence, solidarity and sisterhood, it has also been an incredibly painful year for so many of us,” said DiBrango citing attacks on women’s rights and voter suppression.

“We can’t look away and stop engaging and advocating — we must be the change we want and deserve."

DiBrango called on members to grow the number of women in leadership roles in their locals and to prepare for the statewide network of women’s marches in January. The meeting featured committee subgroups on women’s health, sexual harassment, coalition building, mentoring and women in leadership.

With 70 members, the group has raised more than $2,800 for the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund, hosted a booth at the 2018 NYSUT Representative Assembly and highlighted stories of inspiring NYSUT women using a ‘HERstory’ article template.

The NYSUT Women’s Committee aims to educate female members about the work of the union, and highlight issues important to women, including inequalities in pay, health care and education for women.

Follow the committee on Facebook or Instagram at NYSUTwomen, or on Twitter @NYSUTWomensComm — be sure to use #NYSUTWomen to join the conversation.