YW Boston’s advocacy readies for the 2021 legislative session with new focus areas and members

Jordan Ziese, Advocacy and Public Policy Coordinator
advocacy priorities

As the Massachusetts Legislature begins a new session, there are new opportunities to advocate for policies related to YW Boston’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women. Together, we can effect change not only in our organizations and personal lives, but also in our governments and public spaces. At YW Boston, our advocacy happens through our Advocacy Committee, comprised of volunteers and YW Boston Staff and Board, which determine our policy focus and priority legislation. The committee welcomed nine new members, bringing the total number of volunteer members to nineteen, who are supported by a number of staff and board members. In January 2021, the group voted to adopt a new policy focus areas for the legislative session.

Introducing our 2021 policy focus areas

In the coming months we will be sending further updates related to some of that legislation. We are excited to debut our 2021 policy focus areas and what issues we expect to be advocating for this session.

Childcare and Students

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.

Civil Rights

Last year YW Boston was a strong advocate of Census efforts to achieve a full count. Advocating for the fair redistricting after the 2020 Census is a natural extension of that work. We plan to closely monitor what happens with the 2020 census information and how new districts and resources are allocated based on such information.

Additionally, there are several ongoing initiatives related to diversity in elected or appointed government positions that YW Boston is supportive of. One is the Parity on Board Coalition, led by YW Boston, which would require that all public boards and commissions in Massachusetts achieve gender parity and are racially and ethnically reflective of the communities they are representing. Other areas of concern include allowing campaign funds to be used for childcare and the consideration of Ranked Choice Voting as an opportunity for more women and women of color to secure elected positions.

Racial Justice

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.

Welcoming new members to our dedicated committee

The YW Boston Advocacy Committee was created in 2017 and is comprised of volunteer, staff, and board members. Members serve two-year terms and participate in monthly meetings as well as regular advocacy planning. This January, the committee welcomed nine new volunteer members:

  • Lei Douglas, Area Coordinator in Residential Life, Northeastern University
  • Sravanthy Gumidyala, Physical Activity Coordinator, Boston Public Schools
  • Jillian Harvey, Director of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Division of Health & Human Services for the Town of Arlington
  • Muna Killingback, Assistant Program Director, Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston
  • Tanya Mitchell, Legal Specialist Data Analyst Contracts & Compliance, Massport
  • Sharon Sabin, Communications Specialist, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
  • Sandy Saenbounmy, Grants Manager, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
  • Sydney Stewart, Program Coordinator for Staff Development, Facing History and Ourselves
  • Amanda Zieselman, Managing Consultant, Impact Catalysts

Meet the full committee.

Join us as we advocate for a more equitable Boston and Massachusetts!

We hope you will join us in advocating for these policies that are closely aligned with YW’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. One key step to becoming a successful advocate is getting to know who represents you. Take a moment to get to know your state legislators so that when we share action requests, you will be prepared to take action.

We will follow up with action steps for how our audience can get more involved with our priority areas and legislation. Want to be the first to learn how you can get involved? Sign up for our quarterly advocacy newsletter:


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 sheera@ywboston.org.