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Women’s Equality

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POTSDAM - The St. Lawrence County Branch, AAUW and the League of Women Voters of in St. Lawrence County are working in coalition with other organizations from across the area in the New York Women’s Equality Coalition, North Country Region to support Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda.

Coalition members stand united with one another and with hundreds of members in eight other regional groups across the state, urging broad support of this historic agenda.

The North Country Region partners includes 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, other League of Women Voters in Hamilton County, Plattsburgh and Warren County, Planned Parenthood North Country New York, St. Lawrence Valley Renewal House for Victims of Family Violence, STOP Domestic Violence/BHSN and YWCA of North Eastern New York.

During his Jan. 9 State of the State address, the governor presented the Women’s Equality Agenda, a 10-point plan to break down barriers women face in the most essential areas of life. The Women’s Equality Agenda will reduce discrimination in the workplace and in housing, improve women’s safety and well-being, and ensure equal treatment under the law.

Support for the governor’s agenda began to grow immediately following his announcement; to date nearly 700 businesses and organizations make up the statewide coalition.

“When women suffer inequity before the law, by their employers, and are doubly victimized by crimes like domestic violence and human trafficking, they and their families suffer,” said Donna Seymour, co-chair of the North Country WEA Region, and a member of the St. Lawrence County Branch.

For example, “Women in New York earn 84 percent of what men earn, and that disparity is even more drastic for African American and Hispanic women,” added Kathleen Stein, president of the League of Women Voters of St. Lawrence County.

“Consider that 88 percent of public assistance cases for families are filed by women, and 71 percent of public housing units are occupied by female-headed households. Women who are pregnant or have children are less likely to be hired, promoted, or given raises,” Stein said.

Seymour added, “Women are five times more likely than men to be sexually harassed, and one in four women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime. This inequality persists throughout the course of a woman’s life, meaning a woman is twice as likely as a man to live out old age in poverty.”

“New York state is in a unique position to address many of these problems by simply amending state law,” Stein said. “Community education programs like the human trafficking awareness events at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam this week and next are helping to raise awareness about these important social justice issues.”

This agenda, and the broad range of businesses and groups supporting it in the north country and throughout the state, underscores that full equality for women cannot be achieved by taking partial steps or by focusing solely on a single barrier to equality. The governor has proposed an ambitious agenda that recognizes that women’s struggles, and the solutions, are all interconnected.

Membership in the St. Lawrence County Branch is open to anyone who supports the mission of AAUW. AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research.

AAUW, with its nationwide network of more than 100,000 members, more than 1,000 branches conducting programs in communities across the country, and 500 college and university partners, has been a leading advocate for equity and education for women and their families since 1881.

For more information about AAUW in St. Lawrence County, contact President Jennifer Ball at 268- 4208 or jball@clarkson.edu or Public Policy Chair Kathleen Stein at 386-3812, kstein1@twcny.rr.com, or visit the branch website, www.northnet.org/stlawrenceaauw/index.html.

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