There is a long-standing childcare crisis in the U.S. and COVID-19 has shone a light on the ongoing inadequacies of access, availability, and quality childcare and the disproportionate impact on women and women of color. In addition, women and women of color who make up a significant portion of the childcare workforce, have either been pushed out of the workforce because of the closure of childcare centers or are not making a living wage.
For our students we know that girls of color are over-criminalized and suspended from school at a much higher rate than boys and white girls their same age. Studies show that young girls of color are perceived as older than their same aged peers and thus, they are treated in a way that disproportionately and unfairly punishes them. Ensuring this treatment does not continue is of paramount importance to the committee. We support the following state-wide legislation:
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.
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.
Massachusetts Lawmakers: Prioritize Period Poverty in the Pandemic Recovery Plan
Our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women demands a commitment to diverse and equitable leadership in our organizations and government. Additionally, we stand against discriminatory practices that oppress people of color, women, and women of color in the Commonwealth. This includes a commitment to voting rights and access, the prioritization of diverse leadership, and equity at all levels of government. We support the following state-wide legislation:
To further to YWBoston’s commitment to police reform, this legislation will enable individuals to seek redress when government actors violatetheir civil rights, whether or not the violation is accompanied by “threats, intimidation or coercion.”
2) An Act Fostering Voting Opportunities, Trust, Equity, and SecurityS.459/H.805
Lead Sponsors:Senator Creem and Representative Lawn
The presidential election of 2020 and newly filed legislation in2021 around the countrydemonstrates the urgent need for ongoingvoter reform to eliminate racial inequities. This legislation makes reforms from last year’s COVID elections packagepermanent 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.
YW Boston will continue to support legislation and work with coalitions to address systemic racism that permeates our educational and judicial systems as it relates to young girls and women of color. The intersectionality of gender and race is not effectively addressed in public policy and COVID-19 has further exacerbated these disparities. The committee intends to support legislation around dismantling the school to prison pipeline, ending the overcriminalization of girls of color, police and criminal justice reform, the student debt crisis and higher education access, and ensuring an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We support the following state-wide legislation:
1) An Act to Guarantee Debt Free Public Higher EducationS.829/H.1339
Lead Sponsors:Senator Eldridge and Representative Higgins
Coalitions: Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and PHENOM(Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)
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.
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 anddistrust of the healthcare system. This legislation requires the Governor to appoint a Vaccine Equity Director; requires significantly more outreach and communications aimedat hardest-hit communities; expands Stop theSpread 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.
Parity on Board
YW Boston is leading the Parity on Board coalition and advocating for legislation to ensure gender parity and racial and ethnic diversity on public boards and commissions. But representation won’t improve unless public boards commit to fostering inclusive workplaces that can support these diverse candidates and unless these candidates of diverse backgrounds answer the call to serve. Visit parityonboard.org to learn more about getting involved in a public board or commission in Massachusetts, or to sign up as a coalition partner in support of more diverse leadership in our Commonwealth.
You can take action to support any or all of these bills by reaching out to your state legislators. Click below to find their contact information.