Policy Advocacy and Legislative Agenda

To support YWCA Greenwich’s mission to be a driving force for a healthier, safer, and more equitable community, the organization will advocate for women’s economic empowerment, the advancement of women, racial justice and civil rights, women’s safety, and the funding of critical internal and external programs.

YWCA Greenwich will engage in advocacy in our local community and at state and national levels and will engage in lobbying at the local, state, and federal levels of government within the limits allowed by law and as permitted for an organization exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

1. Economic Empowerment and Advancement

Pay Equity – YWCA Greenwich supports efforts to eliminate the pay gap across gender, race, and sexuality, and provide equal pay for the same or substantially similar work.

* Economic Impact of COVID-19 –YWCA Greenwich supports an equitable recovery from COVID-19 including policies that address the pre-existing pay gap, allowing women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and other marginalized groups to return to work and be protected during future crises, and pilot programs that provide a basic income for economic stability.

Childcare & Early Learning Infrastructure – YWCA Greenwich supports strengthening the state’s childcare infrastructure to ensure affordable, high-quality childcare and early learning programs for all families as well as a livable wage for childcare professionals and early educators.

Paid Family Medical Leave – YWCA Greenwich supports opportunities to increase affordability and expansion of paid leave.

* YWCA Greenwich will continue to monitor the implementation and economic impacts of the state’s paid leave program via the CT Paid Leave Authority alongside federal efforts to create a national paid family and medical leave program.

Inclusive Representation on Municipal Boards & Commissions – YWCA Greenwich is following YWCA Hartford Region’s lead to support equitable gender and racial diversity on municipal boards and commissions.

* Building on Public Act 21-49ii, which ensures statewide boards and commissions have a racial and gender composition reflective of state demographics. This includes modifying policies and practices for recruitment, appointment, and retention of women, BIPOC, and other marginalized groups in the Town of Greenwich.

2. Racial Justice and Civil Rights

Reproductive Rights – As YWCA USA states: limiting reproductive freedom is a withdrawal of human rights harming everyone who experiences pregnancy, especially young women, women of color and marginalized communities that are economically disadvantaged. YWCA Greenwich is monitoring the State of Mississippi’s attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate access to safe and legal abortions. YWCA Greenwich is strongly opposed to barriers that limit reproductive choices and access to healthcare.

Housing – YWCA Greenwich will support legislation and other efforts that enforce inclusionary zoning, equitable urban revitalization, and affordable housing to end racial and class segregation throughout CT.

Education –YWCA Greenwich supports efforts to end racial and gender disparities in education systems. We will support initiatives that encourage STEM education for women, women of color and marginalized groups while creating opportunities for them in non-traditional industries. Our efforts include:

* Teaching & Learning –supporting district, state, and federal policies and practices that promote and equip educators to talk about race, racism, and gender in schools. YWCA Greenwich supports Connecticut’s requirement for schools to offer courses on African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino studies, and the further expansion of both racial/ethnic studies and learning about the experiences of marginalized populations.

* School Safety –supporting local, state, and federal efforts to end disparities in discipline and suspension rates, including funding for training and personnel to create positive school climates, as well as promote transformative, non-exclusionary responses to students’ behaviors.

Justice System - YWCA Greenwich supports efforts reducing unwarranted contact by women, BIPOC, and other marginalized groups with the justice system such as supporting review boards that prevent youth incarceration and vacatur laws for human trafficking victims. Our efforts include:

* Monitoring the implementation of a local police advisory council and statewide police accountability.

* Advocating for measures that improve safety and wellbeing of incarcerated people, such as the regulation of healthcare provided by Connecticut’s Department of Corrections and ending of solitary confinement

* Advocating for bail reform that ensures the safety of victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence

* Diverting funds spent on pretrial incarceration to invest in social services to support reentry

* Efforts to ensure that domestic violence providers are part of the criminal justice reform conversation.

Reparations – YWCA Greenwich will support legislation and efforts that seek to study reparations in all forms for African Americans as a means to repair the past and present harm of systemic racism.

Racism as a Public Health Crisis – YWCA Greenwich will support legislation, programs, policies that address racism and anti-black racism, and declare racism as a public health crisis, which Connecticut recently declared by law, including monitoring the new Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health.

Voter Access – YWCA Greenwich supports legislation and initiatives that increase voter access and eliminate voter suppression. Our efforts include:

* Monitoring the National Popular Vote Compact - a state agreement guaranteeing electoral college votes go to the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and legislation for absentee ballots to be counted early

* Supporting Constitutional amendments to allow voters to vote by absentee ballot without an “excuse” and allow early, in-person voting.

* Supporting legislation to protect state ballot measures from foreign interference and a bill creating a task force to study Rank Choice Voting

* Implementation of automatic voter registration.

Gender and LGBTQ+ Rights – YWCA Greenwich will fight against discrimination of girls, women and LGBTQ+ groups and oppose any attempt to roll back laws supporting equal rights for these communities. Our efforts include:

* Supporting the federal legislation that explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation

3. Domestic and Sexual Violence

Intimate Partner Violence - YWCA Greenwich will collaborate with national, state, and local agencies to promote legislation and policies that serve and protect victims and survivors of intimate partner violence and their children. We support legislation and policies that:

* Provide annual state funding to support one full-time Child & Family Advocate at each of CCADV’s 18 member organizations and ensure VOCA funding is renewed and sustained.

* Create policies that prioritize survivor security and limit unnecessary economic burdens, including access to equitable leasing options, increased access to affordable and reliable health insurance, medical care and childcare, as well as food security to facilitate self-sufficiency.

* Uplift the voices of survivors from marginalized communities, particularly survivors of color, to ensure an equitable and accessible domestic violence service system while raising awareness about the intersection of race and domestic violence and its impacts on marginalized communities.

* Prohibit convicted domestic violence offenders from receiving alimony from victims.

* Seek to increase the availability and efficacy of programs for abusers, including substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and batterer intervention programs as an alternative to traditional criminal justice responses, particularly to address the disparate treatment of marginalized groups within the justice system.

* Increase awareness efforts within immigrant communities to ensure awareness of rights and the services available across the state.

* Increase training requirements for all state employees on intimate partner violence and require all employers with 3+ employees to post resource and referral information in easily accessible and highly visible locations.

* Increase training for judges and courthouse personal around “coercive control.”

* Increase funding for dedicated domestic violence dockets at superior courthouses around the state and for improved data systems around case outcomes.

Gender-based Violence – YWCA Greenwich will support state and federal legislation that addresses gender based violence, including:

* Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) especially as the pandemic and economic crises have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States.

* Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the federal legislation that expired in 2015 and must be reauthorized to renew funding for crucial services to domestic violence victims and survivors, including emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, access to culturally specific and other support programs.

* Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, to prosecute aggressors pursuant to extended statutes of limitation; to develop a contemporary definition of consent to include contextual clues (“contextual consent”); to educate employers pursuant to new sexual harassment training requirements; and, to educate the public on these issues.

* Human Trafficking, strengthen laws that will charge traffickers and “Johns” with crimes. YWCA Greenwich will support legislation that strengthens approaches to eliminating sex trafficking and rescuing victims; provides funding strategies for victim and survivor services, especially suitable advocates, and greater resources for the prosecution of traffickers; and provides greater accountability for this issue within state government.

* We will promote public education and provide support for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

4. Funding of Critical Programs and Initiatives

YWCA Greenwich will advocate for the passage of funding bills on the municipal, state and federal levels that support the above agenda, YWCA programs, and issues related to the mission and strategic plan of the organization. In addition, YWCA Greenwich will support efforts to strengthen the nonprofit sector’s ability to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

5. Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence

YWCA Greenwich is one of 18 domestic violence service agencies that make up the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) CCADV's 2019 Public Policy Priorities highlight focus areas for CCADV over the coming year to strengthen both statutory and administrative policy and practice that help domestic violence survivors to achieve safety and stability. The policy priorities seek to address the large number of complex factors that impact the ability of both the survivor and the family as a whole to live a life free from violence.