One way we work to achieve our mission of racial, gender, and social equity is through Advocacy.

Advocacy

The YWCA remains at the forefront of addressing issues of racial and gender inequities. We are a member of a regional and national movement working together to strengthen our voice in the local, state and national governments. The YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts strives daily to continue to provide opportunities to help women and their families reach their fullest potential. We will continue to take social action towards racial justice, women’s economic advancement and the empowerment of women and girls.

YWCA Southeastern MA staff and supporters joined a regional cohort of advocates at Women's Advocacy Day in May 2019.
YWCA Southeastern MA staff and supporters joined a regional cohort of advocates at Women's Advocacy Day in May 2019.

What issues do we advocate for?

(H.605/S.362) An Act providing affordable and accessible high quality early education and care to promote child development and well-being and support the economy in the Commonwealth (aka the Common Start Bill)

YWCA Southeastern MA is a proud member of the Common Start Coalition, a statewide partnership of organizations, providers, parents, early educators and advocates working together to make high-quality early education and child care affordable and accessible to all Massachusetts families.

In order to make our goal a reality, the Common Start Coalition has developed the Common Start legislation filed by Representatives Gordon and Madaro and Senators Lewis and Moran (HD 1960 / SD 1307), which creates a 5-year pathway to universal, high-quality early education and care and increases public investment in a crucial part of our economy. It would provide bedrock funding for providers (helping to increase early educator salaries and offer stable funding for operating costs) and provide subsidies for families in need of more affordable early education and child care.


(H.2354/S.1445)An Act to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Hygiene Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters, and Public Schools (aka the I AM Bill)

YWCA Southeastern MA is on a mission to END PERIOD POVERTY. No one should have to choose between food, a roof over their head, their education, and access to menstrual products and yet every day in Massachusetts, menstruators are forced to make exactly that choice.

YWCA Southeastern MA is a proud member of the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition, which consists of over 200 community organizations and menstrual activists working to pass the I AM bill to increase access to menstrual products in schools, prisons & shelters. As legislators are deciding their priorities, we need them to both co-sponsor and champion the I AM bill in the 193rd legislative session. You can share this action alert to tell state legislators to prioritize period poverty in the pandemic recovery plan.

In 2020, we know that period poverty looks different and is even more dire. Our 2020 State of Menstrual Access Survey aims to hear from student menstruators, homeless menstruators and currently or formerly incarcerated menstruators directly. Responses will help inform the coalition's advocacy in the 2021-2023 legislative session. Participants will be eligible to receive free menstrual products too!

The YWCA's Girls Exclusive program has been advocating for Menstrual Equity and an end to Period Poverty through their self-named initiative, Justice Flow, and you can follow their advocacy work in the news, too! You can read more about YWCA SEMA's Menstrual Access Advocacy Project here


(H.3157/S.2077) An Act to Ensure Gender Parity and Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Public Boards and Commissions

This Act would require that the composition of each appointed public board and commission broadly reflect the general public of the Commonwealth. All appointive boards and commissions of the state shall be gender, racially and ethnically balanced. According to the bill, composition should not exceed 50% of one gender. Additionally, racial and ethnic composition of each board and commission must, at minimum, reflect the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in the general population. As our state and community continues to grow economically and culturally, enacting this legislation would bring about major change across our leadership diversity.

The bill was refiled in January 2021 by Representative Patricia A. Haddad and Senator Jason Lewis and has been referred to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. First filed in 2019 the bill was reported favorably to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight and was then referred to the committee on House Ways and Means.

Visit parityonboard.org to learn more!


(H.2776/S.1931) An Act Relative to Medicaid Coverage for Doula Services (aka the Doula Bill)

This bill works to provide Medicaid coverage for doula services for pregnant persons, surrogates, foster parents and adoptive parents. Passing this bill furthers goals of racial equity, reproductive and birthing justice.


(H.2341/S.1519) An Act Relative to Out-of-Hospital Birth Access and Safety (aka the Midwife Bill)

Massachusetts is overdue when it comes to recognizing Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs); something that 36 other states already recognize, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. This bill legally creates a safe, integrated maternity care system with access to licensed midwives in every birth setting, including home births. This creates better maternal and infant health outcomes, reduces health disparities, increases access to care, lowers health care costs, and increases patient safety and transparency.


(H.1536/S.1002) The VOTES Act

The VOTES Act is a comprehensive piece of election reform legislation to ensure that those reforms that worked last fall for voters like you — mail-in voting and expanded early voting — are not taken away, and to dismantle remaining barriers to voter participation, like our voter registration deadline. The VOTES Act would make Same Day Registration the law in Massachusetts; it would ensure that Bay Staters who are incarcerated but eligible to vote can actually exercise that right; it would strengthen post-election audits to bolster voter confidence.


(H.3253/S.2458) An Act to Protect the Voting Rights of Eligible Incarcerated People

An Act to Protect the Voting Rights of Eligible Incarcerated People would create a system long overdue to provide citizens behind the wall with meaningful access to the ballot. It would:

  • Require sheriffs to provide all eligible voters ballot applications, voting materials, and a private place to vote It would require sheriffs to facilitate voting, including timely return of applications and ballots
  • Ensure sheriffs partner with community leaders and organizations to support participation
  • Ensure municipal, in-person polling locations are available in jails in the most populous counties
  • Ensure eligible incarcerated voters’ ballot applications are not rejected by elections officials Improve registration and participation for returning citizens
  • Provide data and reporting so that incarcerated people, advocates, organizers, and Bay Staters with loved ones behind the wall can assess the scale of the problem and the efficacy of the solution.

Click here to read the Bill Summary and here to view the Fact Sheet!


(H.2370/S.1515) An Act Effectuating Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination

Communities of color have been disadvantaged by access to COVID  vaccines due to lack of accessible vaccine centers, lack of prioritization of  certain essential workers in the food and retail industry and distrust of  the healthcare system.  This legislation requires the Governor to appoint  a Vaccine Equity Director; requires significantly more outreach and  communications aimed at hardest-hit communities; expands Stop the Spread testing sites to all Gateway Cities; creates a mobile  vaccination program for communities with highest COVID rates; and  requires transparency about vaccine  distribution and  implementation plans.

What does our advocacy work look like?

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Legislative Advocacy

Legislative advocacy refers to efforts to influence legislation, or official laws. We do this through contacting our legislators – city councilors, state legislators, and federal legislators – to share our views on an issue and ask them to vote a specific way on a bill. We used legislative advocacy to help pass An Act to Establish Pay Equity and the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program.


Coalitions

When several groups share a common goal, they can form a coalition to work together to have that goal met. An advocacy coalition may focus on addressing legal, political, or social issues. We used the method of joining a coalition when we joined with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and other supporters of pay equity and PFML at Women's Advocacy Day, held each year in the spring at the Massachusetts State House.

Mobilization of public support and action

Mobilizing public support and action includes providing information to our network about legislation, policies, or social or political movements related to our mission, and then providing information about how people can take action. This may include asking people to contact their legislator, participate in a rally, or share information on social media about the importance of an issue.

Questions about our advocacy? Contact Jordan Latham, Director of Advocacy and Resource Development, jlatham@ywcasema.org or (508) 999-3255.

Please click HERE to view the YWCA USA Advocacy Page!


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