Reflections on our advocacy during a norm-shattering year
Now, the end of the year, is the season to reflect on a year that has been unprecedented, unforeseen, challenging, singularly norm-shattering – whatever adjective you choose to describe these times. We are all navigating the public health crisis of COVID-19 which has disproportionately impacted our Black and Brown communities. We are impacted by an economic crisis which has hurt those at the bottom of the income ladder and threatens to undo decades of advancement for women in the workplace. And our nation is reckoning with a racial justice crisis that has been ongoing for centuries. Through this, YW Boston’s Advocacy Committee has continued working to ensure that our laws and public leaders align with our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. The committee has shown resilience and flexibility in constant dedication to YW Boston’s vision. Now is the time to pause and reflect on the work we’ve done in the past year before setting intentions for the next.
This year, the YW Boston Advocacy Committee has supported the following initiatives:
- The identification and continued support of key legislative priorities in the midst of the COVID crisis. These include bills supporting early childhood education, supporting the use of campaign funds for childcare, ensuring that equitable housing is a priority in the state of Massachusetts, providing menstrual products for people who menstruate in all public restrooms, and increasing parity on Massachusetts’ public boards and commissions. This support included sending letters and tweets to our state representatives to ensure that the voices of the committee are heard at the State House, even if we cannot physically be at the State House. If you are interested in supporting those efforts or contacting your own representatives you can visit Parity on Board’s action page and keep an eye out for action alerts in the coming months.
- Led by committee member Sherrie Saint-Amant, the committee helped with Census efforts across the Commonwealth. The Census count was cut unexpectedly short after many delays from the pandemic, and we all must remain vigilant in the coming months as Census results are used to redraw districts and reallocate funds. Getting the count was only the first step in making sure we are all equitably represented by our government.
- The committee elected to write a letter to the conference committee debating this year’s police reform bill. In it the committee detailed its support of the legislation and reiterated the urgency of action being taken in Massachusetts. Specifically, the letter highlighted the need to increase the expungement of youth criminal records, limit qualified immunity, limit the use of force, and ban racial profiling by Massachusetts police officers. The committee will remain engaged in this legislation until an acceptable bill is passed.
In the new year, we will be growing our committee by adding 9 new members in January from all areas and sectors in Boston. This year has exposed inequities that, formerly, were most well-known by those experiencing them. Next year we want to uplift and join in the work with those who have been advocating for change for a long time: Change to a broken childcare infrastructure that is too expensive for parents and fails to pay teachers a living wage. Change to a broken juvenile justice system insistent on punishment over empathy. Change to governments that fail to look like the residents they serve. There is much work to be done, but also so much community to be built while we all work towards equity together. I look forward to introducing the policy priorities for the new session in the coming months, and hope you all will join us in enacting equitable change in our governments and policies.
About YW Boston
As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.
As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.