Policy Advocacy and Legislative Agenda
The Mission of YWCA Greenwich is: “Eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”
To support the YWCA Greenwich mission and as proposed by the Strategic Plan, the following is an agenda for legislative advocacy during FY 2021. YWCA Greenwich will advocate at the local, state and federal levels of government within the limits allowed by law.
1. Economic Empowerment and Advancement
YWCA Greenwich believes that all women and girls have a right to be confident, self-sufficient and supported to achieve their greatest potential. In FY 2021 YWCA Greenwich will advocate on the following issues:
- Pay Equity – On average, women in Connecticut who are full-time, year-round workers are paid 83 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Black women and Latinas earn 56.6 cents and 48.2 cents, respectively, on the dollar compared to white men. A woman in Connecticut will lose an average of $434,240 throughout her lifetime due to the gender pay gap. YWCA Greenwich will support efforts to lower the gender pay gap and provide equal pay for the same or substantially similar work. YWCA Greenwich will also support efforts to encourage employers to examine pay practices and take active steps to address wage discrepancies.
- Paid Family Medical Leave – We will continue to monitor the implementation of the PFML insurance program through the CT Paid Leave Authority; the administration and cost of this program; and how the economic security of participants is impacted. YWCA Greenwich will support the federal Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act to improve the economic security of working families and reduce racial and gender inequities.
- Work Supports and Advancement –YWCA Greenwich will advocate for programs and work supports that promote educational equity, female entrepreneurship, access to capital, employment stability and long-term economic security; access and inclusion to positions of power, promotions, and boards; and, that prevent workplace harassment.
-High-Quality, Affordable Childcare – Too many families, regardless of income, face the hardship of accessing good childcare options. YWCA Greenwich will support efforts to provide universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-old children; to increase and improve access to childcare subsidies for high-needs families; and, to increase compensation for early childhood educators to attract and retain a skilled workforce.
-Gender-Equitable Economic Recovery from COVID-19 – In October 2020 there were 2.2 million fewer women in the labor force than October 2019, fueled by the pandemic, school closures, expensive childcare, and pay inequity. YWCA Greenwich will support efforts that get women back to work by creating long-term solutions for a stronger social safety net, investing in education and training, providing quality and affordable healthcare, and addressing policies and practices rooted in racism and gender discrimination that harm women and families.
2. Racial Justice and Civil Rights
YWCA Greenwich is on a mission to promote inclusion, justice and dignity for all in our community. This requires YWCA Greenwich to support laws that fight against all forms of discrimination. In FY 21, YWCA Greenwich will focus on:
- Racism is a Public Health Crisis – COVID-19 has illuminated the devastating consequences of racial health disparities in Connecticut and the nation. These disparities—disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous, and Latinx populations—span physical and mental health and are complicated by unequal access to healthcare, pay inequity, police violence, lack of affordable housing, and segregated schools. YWCA Greenwich will support legislation, programs, policies, and practices that center on the dismantling of racism and anti-Black racism.
-Education - YWCA Greenwich seeks to advance racial equity, particularly for women and girls of color, in education. Specifically, YWCA Greenwich will support efforts to end racial disparities in academic tracking, educational outcomes, school culture and discipline, operations, and hiring and promotions. We will support programs and initiatives that encourage STEM education for girls, particularly girls of color, and create opportunities for women and girls in non-traditional industries
-Housing – YWCA Greenwich will support legislative efforts to fight discrimination in housing and expand housing affordability within and outside of urban areas.
-Healthcare – YWCA Greenwich will support legislative efforts to fight discrimination in access to healthcare and disparities in treatment that lead to racial and gender inequities. We support preserving women’s access to reproductive health services, expanding the length of Medicaid coverage for maternity care, and promoting equity in the supply of feminine products in public schools and other appropriate venues.
-Mass Incarceration and Equal Justice – Connecticut currently incarcerates 8,885 people. While only 12% of our state’s population is Black, 42.7% of Connecticut’s prisoners are Black and 26.4% are Latinx. Mass incarceration has led to disproportionate imprisonment of people of color and poor people, and it has uniquely fractured families and communities of color. To end mass incarceration and restore dignity to people within the prison system, YWCA Greenwich will support police accountability reforms such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to eliminate racial disparities and to end racial profiling; voting rights for individuals on parole; 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; and, efforts to ensure that domestic violence providers are part of the criminal justice reform conversation.
- Reparations – Over the past 30 years, the average wealth of White families has grown by 84%, a growth rate that is 1.2 and 3 times greater than Latinx and Black populations, respectively. If growth continues at this pace, it would take Black families 228 years to amass the same wealth White families have today. Chattel slavery, racial violence, discriminatory policies such as redlining, the G.I. Bill, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration have facilitated this wealth and opportunity disparity. Reparations are a just remedy, and they have been used in this country to repair the harm done to Indigenous people for unjust land seizures and Japanese Americans for internment during World War II. The 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.
- Voter Access – The right to vote is at the heart of democracy. Strengthening access to voter registration and rights ensures democracy endures. YWCA Greenwich will support legislation and policies as well as community organizations to increase voter access and eliminate vote suppression efforts. Our efforts include support of a constitutional amendment to allow all registered voters to vote by absentee ballot without an “excuse” as well as an amendment to allow early, in-person voting; legislation to allow for absentee ballots to be counted early; and legislation to implement automatic voter registration and update the online voter registration system.
- Transgender Rights – YWCA Greenwich will fight against discrimination of the LGBTQ community and oppose any attempt to roll back laws supporting equal rights for the LGBTQ community. We will support legislation that protects transgender people from physical and sexual violence--especially transgender women and transgender people of color--at home, at work and school, or in public.
- Human Trafficking – Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. YWCA Greenwich, along with a coalition of partners, will continue to work to strengthen laws that will charge traffickers and “Johns” with crimes. This includes changing the state definition of trafficking to match the broader federal definition and giving courts the discretion to vacate any conviction for adults and minors—regardless of a prostitution conviction—if the trafficking victim can demonstrate that the commission of the crime on which the conviction was based resulted from the victim having been trafficked. YWCA Greenwich will support legislation that strengthens law enforcement 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 about human trafficking and provide support for victims and survivors.
3. Safety of Women and Girls
The safety and well-being of women and their children is a priority for YWCA Greenwich. Supporting efforts that protect women against domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking are essential to our mission of empowering women and girls.
- Domestic Violence – YWCA Greenwich will collaborate with national, state, and local agencies to promote legislation and policies that serve and protect victims and survivors of domestic violence, including immigrant and asylum-seeking victims and their children. This includes:
-Working with state and local government to provide safety within courthouses for victims of family violence, expand and review training for judges on family violence to increase victim safety, improve the application process for U-Visas for victims of domestic violence, ensure violations of orders of protection for victims be treated with the greatest seriousness, and support measures that increase financial security for domestic violence victims and survivors. [We expect and will review modifications to proposed legislation to provide safety and freedom for victims and survivors and their families.
-Working with state and local government to secure funding to administer prevention and education programs for students enrolled in the public schools and throughout the community.
-Supporting efforts to keep victims and survivors safe in their homes, including requiring landlords to change apartment locks at the expense of tenants who are domestic violence victims when a judicial order is issued against an abuser.
-Supporting efforts to protect the privacy and safety of victims and survivors of domestic violence at risk in connection with the disclosure of public records through, for example, the sale of voter registration information.
- Domestic Violence and Firearms – Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to end in death than assaults with other weapons or physical harm. YWCA Greenwich will support legislation that closes loopholes in the federal laws that restrict access to firearms by domestic abusers, including the implementation of universal background checks. YWCA Greenwich will also work with CT state lawmakers to strengthen gun laws related to domestic violence and protection orders concerning extreme risk.
- 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), including the recent amendment requiring confiscation of an abuser’s gun when a temporary restraining order is put in place.
-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 - YWCA Greenwich will support efforts 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.
4. Funding of Critical Programs and Initiatives
YWCA Greenwich will advocate for the passage of funding bills on the municipal, state and federal level 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 COVID-19 crisis including supporting special grant funding, relief programs, including funding to stabilize the childcare industry; unemployment insurance and COVID leave reimbursements; and charitable giving incentives by expanding and extending the above-the-line universal charitable deductions.
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 2021 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.