At a press conference at the Capitol today, advocates launched the New York Women’s Equality Coalition, comprised of more than 500 labor groups, business leaders, civil rights organizations, women’s groups, medical associations, and religious groups united in vigorous support of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda.

During his January 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 wellbeing, and ensure equal treatment under the law.

Despite New York’s place in history as the home to many advances for women, the coalition marked the start of Women’s History Month highlighting the many barriers that now exist for women in the Empire State:

  • Women in New York earn 84 percent of what men earn, and that disparity is even more drastic for black and Latina women.
  • 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.
  • Women who are pregnant or have children are less likely to be hired, promoted or given raises.
  • Eighty-eight 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 are five times more likely than men to be sexually harassed, and one in four women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime.

New York has the power to solve many of these problems by simply amending state law. Empowering New York women to once again make history depends on leveling the playing field here in New York. This Agenda, and the extraordinary range of businesses and groups supporting it, underscores that full equality for women cannot be achieved by taking partial steps or by focusing solely on a single barrier to equality. Rather, the governor has proposed an ambitious Agenda that recognizes that women’s struggles, and the solutions, are all interconnected.

“While some individual companies have done a stellar job in making their workplaces diverse and inclusive, the overall progress in the corporate sector has been painfully slow. At the current rate of change, it would take women executives more than 70 years to reach parity,” said Cynthia DiBartolo, chair of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, executive board member of the Business and Labor Coalition, and CEO of Tigress Financial Partners. “It is time for New York State to become a real change agent. We need Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda.”

“The NYCLU is proud to join the growing list of diverse organizations that support Governor Cuomo’s Women's Equality Agenda,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The governor's commitment to pay equity, extending protections against sexual harassment to all of New York’s workers, and protecting a woman’s right to make her own private health care decisions will undoubtedly help level the playing field and ensure that all New York's mothers, daughters, sisters and wives can fully and equally participate in society.”

“The Governor’s Women’s Equality Agenda will again lead New York State into a future where women have economic security and more control over their own futures,” said Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters of New York State. “We applaud the Governor for this leadership on this agenda.”

“YWCAs throughout New York State are excited to contribute our resources to work on the Women's Equality Agenda,” said Christine Sadowski, executive director of the YWCA Orange County and a representative of the YWCAs of New York State. “This comprehensive and significant agenda has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of women and girls that YWCAs work with across the state. We’re eager to work collaboratively with other statewide organizations to fight the systemic inequality that negatively impacts not only women, but families and our overall communities as well.”

“Governor Cuomo’s groundbreaking Women’s Equality Agenda promotes fundamental fairness and equality for the women of New York, breaking down key legal barriers that cause gender discrimination and inequality in the workplace and society at large,” said Dina Bakst, co-president of A Better Balance. “Providing equal opportunities is not only the right thing to do for the mothers, daughters and sisters of New York, it’s critical to our state’s economic future. Let’s made New York a model for the nation once again.”

“NYSUT is deeply committed to achieving equality, not only for today’s generations of women, but for our students, who are the future of New York State,” said Maria Neira, Vice President of the New York State Union of Teachers.

“Women and girls are being trafficked throughout New York for labor and sex slavery,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York City. “The Women’s Equality Agenda recognizes human trafficking as a crime that affects our most vulnerable women and girls and the need to bring to an end the misery of modern-day slavery by strengthening laws and helping women reclaim their lives.”