Announcing the YW Boston Advocacy Committee’s 2021 State Level Legislative Priorities
Since its founding in 2017, the YW Boston Advocacy Committee has raised awareness about and facilitated action in support of state-wide legislation. The YW Boston Advocacy Committee is excited to announce that it has prioritized several pieces of legislation to advocate for in the coming legislative session. The committee has chosen two bills to focus on for each of our three focus areas: students and childcare, civil rights, and racial justice. If you are interested in hearing more and receiving updates on how to take action on these priorities sign up for our Advocacy Mailing List, below. Learn more about our priorities this year:
Students and Childcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted already existing problems in our childcare and school system across the nation, as we have written about previously. The following pieces of legislation advance equity at all levels of our education system, from infant to high school, to ensure all children have the same access to education.
1) An Act providing affordable and accessible high quality early education and care to promote child development and well-being and support the economy in the Commonwealth S.362/H.605
Lead Sponsors: Senators Lewis and Moran and Representatives Gordon and Madaro
Childcare in this state has been in crisis for many years. COVID has exacerbated the crisis by highlighting the disproportionate impact on women and women of color. This legislation will update the system of early education and care financing to ensure affordability and universal access to quality care for all children in the Commonwealth which will include improved sliding scale subsidies with a 7% cap of yearly income for parents, new standards of teacher pay and workforce grants for educators.
Learn more at the Common Start Coalition.
2) An Act to Increase Access to Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters, and Public Schools – “I AM”- H.2354
Lead Sponsors: Representatives Livingstone and Barber
People who do not menstruate are expected to have all their needs met when they use a public restroom. Those who do menstruate do not have that same expectation of access to essential products. Young people especially are often unable to afford the high cost of menstrual products and lack of access to menstrual products may cause them to miss more school than their peers as well as subject them to unnecessary health risks. Public health and nutritional benefits programs do not cover the cost of these products. This legislation will mandate provision of menstrual products in prisons, homeless shelters and public schools grades K through 12 free of charge in a non-stigmatizing way.
Learn more at the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition.
The Committee is strongly devoted to seeing increased diversity at all levels of government, which means being committed to increased and equitable voting access. Additionally, we stand by the need to protect the Civil Rights of all residents of the Commonwealth to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all.
1) An Act Relative to Civil Rights H.1522
Lead Sponsor: Representative Day
To further to YW Boston’s commitment to police reform, this legislation will enable individuals to seek redress when government actors violate their civil rights, whether or not the violation is accompanied by “threats, intimidation or coercion.”
Learn more at ACLU of MA.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Creem and Representative Lawn
The presidential election of 2020 and newly filed legislation in 2021 around the country demonstrates the urgent need for ongoing voter reform to eliminate racial inequities. This legislation makes reforms from last year’s COVID elections package permanent and builds on them with Election Day Registration, measures to ensure that individuals who are incarcerated but still have the right to vote are able to do so, and steps to strengthen enforcement of the 2018 Automatic Voter Registration law.
Learn more at Common Cause MA.
A cornerstone of YW Boston’s mission is to eliminate racism in all its forms. That means we must support legislation that addresses systemic inequities, especially those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This priority is meant to reflect the intersectional nature of our work and mission, supporting policy that is anti-racist in all areas.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Eldridge and Representative Higgins
Student debt continues to climb and we know that women of color have more student debt than others. This, coupled with gender and racial wage gaps, perpetuates racial inequities in education. This legislation creates a higher education system where every Massachusetts resident has a right to attend any public college or university free of tuition and fees.
Learn more at Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts.
Lead Sponsors: Senators Rausch and Chang-Diaz and Representatives Miranda and Domb
Coalition: Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition
Communities of color have been disadvantaged by access to COVID vaccines due to lack of accessible vaccine centers, lack of prioritization of certain essential workers in the food and retail industry and distrust of the healthcare system. This legislation requires the Governor to appoint a Vaccine Equity Director; requires significantly more outreach and communications aimed at hardest-hit communities; expands Stop the Spread testing sites to all Gateway Cities; creates a mobile vaccination program for communities with highest COVID rates; and requires transparency about vaccine distribution and implementation plans.
Learn more at the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition.
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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.
YW Boston Advocacy Committee
The Advocacy Committee supports YW Boston’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women by engaging elected officials, organizations and the public through legislative advocacy, coalition building, education, and action. The committee develops and implements the organization’s two-year advocacy agenda in order to rectify structural barriers to equity and opportunity for women, girls, and people of color.