Today, Women Creating Change (WCC) announces the launch of the Civic Matters Hub.
A groundbreaking online platform dedicated to equipping women and gender-expansive individuals with the knowledge, resources, and connections necessary to advocate for stronger communities, enhance quality of life, and fortify our democracy. In a city as vibrant as New York, the active participation of women—whether it’s casting a vote, pursuing political office, joining a Community Board, volunteering for a Parents’ Association, organizing a tenants’ group, engaging with elected officials, or participating in peaceful protests—is the lifeblood that sustains our entire metropolis.
In a time when civic literacy is declining, and voter turnout remains lackluster across New York, the Civic Matters Hub emerges as an indispensable tool, empowering women to not only educate themselves on topics crucial to their lives but also to harness resources for meaningful action. This online resource is designed for flexibility, allowing users to engage at their own pace, on their terms, and from anywhere they choose. The Civic Matters Hub caters to individuals that are at every stage of their civic journey, providing Get-Involved Guides, tools for locating local elected representatives, opportunities to take action and attend events, and a community platform for connection and advocacy. Crucially, the Hub also houses the Citywide Directory, a comprehensive guide directing women toward low-and no-cost social services, programs, and resources available throughout the five boroughs. This resource addresses significant barriers to civic engagement identified through WCC research, such as time constraints, childcare responsibilities, and financial constraints.
Sharon Sewell-Fairman, President and CEO of Women Creating Change, underscores the urgency of this initiative: “New York City faces a multitude of challenges, including threats to democracy and women’s rights, racial and economic injustices, inadequate healthcare, environmental hazards, unaffordable housing, rising living costs, schools failing our, and mental health issues. Women, driven by their unique experiences and expertise, are often best positioned to tackle these issues head-on. Regrettably, they are also the ones who encounter the most obstacles due to their historical and present disenfranchisement and underinvestment. The Civic Matters Hub aims to be a community platform for transformative change, offering foundational information and resources to help women take their first steps towards civic engagement.”
New York, a city of boundless opportunity, is at the cusp of increased civic engagement by women. Comprising 52% of the city’s population, women are gaining ground in various areas, including a growing presence on Community Boards, long dominated by men, that are starting to see more women serving and a historic majority of women-identified members in New York City Council.
“Momentum is building, and the Civic Matters Hub provides another invaluable tool to bolster this progress.” Sewell-Fairman emphasizes the breadth of opportunities the Hub offers: “Users can find guidance on diverse avenues of civic engagement, from advocating for improved street lighting by contacting elected officials to forming local block associations or running for public office. The Hub accommodates quick tips or deep dives, enabling users to engage for five minutes or five hours, depending on their interests. Women are the architects of change in New York City, and with resources like those provided by the Hub, our communities will flourish.”
“It is a wonderful moment in New York City civic engagement to have the Civic Matters Hub go live! I have had the pleasure of working with WCC for many years and have enjoyed collaborating on civic engagement programming to support women,” said Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission. “The Civic Matters Hub will be an invaluable resource for women 18 years and older, with easy entrance points and informative tutorials for people who are newly engaged, as well as those who seek to become more involved. We will be recommending the Hub as a key tool to use when talking to people about the different ways they can support communities throughout our great city.”
The Civic Matters Hub draws inspiration from WCC’s 2021 report, A Blueprint for Women’s Civic Engagement in New York City: Toward a More Just and Equitable Democracy. This comprehensive blueprint examines the landscape of women’s civic engagement in New York City, with a focus on those systematically excluded from civic processes. The report defines civic engagement; identifies the barriers and drivers of civic participation; and presents recommendations for nonprofits, government, foundations, and the private sector. The report findings were informed by focus groups with New York City women, who revealed a strong desire for easily accessible and relatable information addressing government functioning, voting procedures, diverse pathways to civic involvement, and understanding the policies and community efforts of elected officials. The Civic Matters Hub was molded by these invaluable insights.
The Civic Matters Hub is part of WCC’s multifaceted Civics Matters program aimed at nurturing a robust civic participation pipeline within New York City. Comprising workshops for education and skills development, a forthcoming civic engagement fellowship program, and an anticipated university-based civic leadership institute, this holistic approach equips women with the tools to become engaged civically, improving their lives, their families’ lives, and ultimately their communities.
In alignment with our commitment to accessibility, the Civic Matters Hub, incorporates the UserWay widget, ensuring all users have a seamless browsing experience. Furthermore, the site is available in 12 languages through Google Translate. The Hub is tailored for women and gender-expansive people, particularly primary caregivers, wage workers, and Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, Latine, low-income, and LGBTQ+ persons.
Initial user testing produced overwhelmingly positive feedback, with the Hub being described as informative, empowering, educational, insightful, inspiring, easy to navigate, easy to understand, user-friendly, engaging, accessible, and trustworthy. Users have called it “a one stop shop for advocacy, education, and leadership,” “a civic engagement library with all the information needed to improve our communities,” and “a stepping stone to embark on the journey of civic empowerment.”
Women Creating Change
Founded in 1915, Women Creating Change (formerly Women’s City Club of New York) is a nonprofit, non-partisan, activist organization committed to advancing women’s rights and shaping the future of New York City. Today, Women Creating Change is a diverse community that collaborates with stakeholders and organizations, with a focus on historically disenfranchised women. Our mission is to develop and strengthen the skills and resources needed for women to effectively identify and advocate for the issues that matter most to them and to New York’s most diverse communities. Our vision is a more just and equitable New York City where all women are civically engaged.
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