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?

1.)  Affordable, Accessible, High-Quality Early Education and Care

Improved policies and public awareness on the disparity of quality, affordable childcare in Massachusetts. Childcare affects family stability, workforce participation, children’s healthy development and school readiness, and the early education workforce. The childcare system is lacking resources and funding at all levels. Massachusetts is the least affordable state for center-based child care for infants ($20,125 annually) and toddlers ($18,586 annually), and among the least affordable states for four-year-old care ($14,256). Low-income families have fewer options for high-quality childcare.

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.

Our elected officials need to hear from their constituents directly email your state rep and state senator directly to cosponsor this crucial piece of legislation! While we have a template email about the Common Start legislation, please feel free to include your own personal story - let’s make our voices heard on Beacon Hill.

https://bit.ly/commonstartcosponsor


2)  Increased Access to Disposable Menstrual Hygiene Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters, and Public Schools (HD 2272/SD1381).

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


3.)  The VOTES Act

YWCA’s intersectional mission to eliminate racism and empower women demands that we show up to advocate against the oppression that historically marginalized groups and individuals endure. We recognize the interconnected experiences of discrimination and disadvantage that women face from their overlapping identities. And we believe that together we can help build political power in our communities and make sure women get to the polls, and that our experiences and needs are valued, represented, and made a priority to those we elect to public office. Change starts at the local level—and we know how crucial it is to support women, in particular women and girls of color, every election season and beyond. As one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the country, YWCA is especially committed to doing our part to make sure women get to the polls, and that our experiences and needs are valued, represented and made a priority to those we elect to public office. YWCA SEMA is proud to endorse the VOTES Act, an antiracist policy that will remove barriers to civic participation and ensure an equitable democracy for all residents in the Commonwealth.

The VOTES Act (HD1536/SD1002) 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.

If passed, 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 - and much more.

Please urge your legislators to support this important bill today. It is critical that our elected officials hear from their constituents that they care about the right to vote and want to do so safely in the fall. Your participation makes a difference.

Endorse the VOTES Act: https://forms.gle/MV7gv8wnzhmwJibB8

Call for Cosponsors: http://bit.ly/cosponsorVOTES

Write/submit an LTE: https://www.commoncause.org/votesact/


4.)  HD. 3253/SD.2458 An Act to Protect the Voting Rights of Eligible Incarcerated People

All US citizens who are incarcerated on non-felony convictions or held in pre-trial conviction retain their constitutional right to vote. Any given year, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 individuals incarcerated in Massachusetts retain their right to vote. However, incarcerated eligible voters in Massachusetts face de facto disenfranchisement due to a lack of access to absentee ballots, the fact that there is no set process across the Commonwealth's 14 counties for coordinating jail voting, and inconsistent processes and guidelines for sheriffs and clerks’ on ballot access and voter eligibility

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!

What does our advocacy work look like?

advocay-women-outside

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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