Harlem City Council’s Melissa Mark-Viverito And Others Announce NYC Young Women’s Initiative

May 14, 2015

Melissa_Mark-ViveritoToday, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras ,Women’s Issues Committee Chair Laurie Cumbo, and Women’s Caucus Co-Chairs Elizabeth Crowley and Darlene Mealy announced the creation of the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative. 

The New York City Council will convene a multi-platform working group aimed at supporting young women in New York City and combating chronic gender inequality in healthcare, education, and the workplace.

Related: Listen to Harlem City Council member Melissa-Mark-Viverito on The Danny Tisdale Show >>

The Young Women’s Initiative will work with the City, elected officials, community-based organizations, advocates, policy experts, and women of all ages to assess the needs and disparities experienced by women and girls in New York City  through the lens of  educational attainment, economic mobility, approaches to anti-violence, preventative healthcare, and reproductive access. The working group will analyze available data, examine the City’s current investments and explore innovative approaches and identify where the City can make a lasting impact.

“For too long, young women in New York City have experienced systemic inequality in all areas of life, whether its healthcare, education, or equal pay for equal work. These injustices are especially pervasive for young women of color, who have been denied opportunity for advancement and success time and time again throughout history. We are here today to say ‘no more’. It’s time we stand up with women everywhere tackle this inequality head on—and this first-of-its-kind Young Women’s Initiative will do just that,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The Young Women’s Initiative is the first of its kind in the nation. In New York City, the signs of disparity are stark:

  • Black and Latina women and girls are more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts and are less likely to graduate from high school across the five boroughs.
  • Rates of maternal mortality are much higher for communities of color — seven times higher for black women and twice as high for Latinas and Asian-American/Pacific Islander women than whites
  • New diagnoses of HIV are concentrated in communities of color.
  • The rate of black and Latina women living with HIV is 1340% and 640% higher that of white women, respectively.

Together with experts in women’s issues and gender inequality, the Young Women’s Initiative will determine key areas for intervention to improve the lives and reduce disparities experienced by young women New York City. The working group will also put forth policy and funding recommendations for   future innovation in programming, data collection, and public/private investments.

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“The New York City Council has long supported initiatives like the STARS Initiative and, just this month, the campaign for Women on 20s, which are paving the way for our girls to succeed. The Young Women’s Initiative will strengthen our current work and provide insight as we search for new ways to invest in young women. As a former chairperson for the Council’s Committee on Women’s Issues, I am proud to join the Speaker and Councilwomen Cumbo and Crowley today for the launch of this important initiative,” saidCouncil Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Council Committee on Finance.

“Our greatest untapped resource is the potential that our girls can bring to all facets of society from mathematics and engineering to politics and sports. From Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai to the brave girls in Nigeria who risked their lives to receive a quality education, girls all over the world are defying the odds and fighting for their rightful place at the table. We have to support our girls wherever they are in order to create a balanced world where all voices, perspectives, and ideas are included in the creation of our society. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I am proud to join Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in launching the New York City Council Young Women’s Initiative designed to bring key stakeholders together in order to identify the most innovative ways to support the development of our girls. It is critical that we invest in our girls by providing adequate resources and opportunities for them to realize their true passion and pursue their dreams. When we realize the full potential of our girls, we will change the world,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Council Committee on Women’s Issues.

“The Young Women’s Initiative will help to bring equal rights into the 21st Century by examining serious issues facing women today — equal pay, investment in workforce development and non-traditional employment for women. I would like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for launching this Initiative and my Women’s Caucus Co-Chair, Darlene Mealy,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Co-Chair of the New York City Council Women’s Caucus.

“As the movement to combat gender inequality swells nationwide, New York City has a responsibility to ensure our young women are not left behind. The Young Women’s Initiative will harness the City’s resources to ensure that women in New York City have the tools they need to get ahead. It’s time we take a close look at our city’s efforts to support equality and the Young Women’s Initiative will help build a strong foundation for the next generation of women leaders,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy, Co-Chair of the New York City Council Women’s Caucus.

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