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New Yorkers Descend on Capitol for Women’s Equality Rally and Lobby Day

Thousands of New Yorkers from every corner of the state descended on Albany today for a rally and lobby day in support of the Women’s Equality Act.

Thousands of New Yorkers from every corner of the state descended on Albany today for a rally and lobby day in support of the Women’s Equality Act.

The rally came immediately on the heels of the governor releasing his 10-point Women’s Equality Act, a clear and comprehensive piece of legislation that will improve the lives of New York’s 10 million women. This bill is the result of an immense amount of collaboration among a host of critical stakeholders and fulfills the bold promise the governor laid out in January to remove significant barriers to women’s full and equal participation in society.

Advocates and activists at the rally arrived by the busload from Binghamton, Buffalo, Central Islip, Cortland, Kingston, New York City, Newburgh, Nyack, Oneonta, Potsdam, Rochester, Saranac Lake, Syracuse and Tarrytown. The #NY4Women Rally and Lobby Day is a culmination of months of grassroots organizing in every region of the state led by labor groups, women’s advocacy organizations, religious groups, business leaders, health care associations and concerned New Yorkers who have dedicated themselves to making sure lawmakers pass the Women’s Equality Act to improve the lives of women across the state and establish New York as a beacon for the nation in promoting equality for all people.

The Women’s Equality Act will address some core inequalities that women across New York face. For instance:

  • Women in New York earn, on average, 84 percent of what men earn, and that wage gap is even more severe for black and Latino women who earn 66 percent and 55 percent of that earned by non-Latino men, respectively.
  • 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.

In front of thousands at the rally in West Capitol Park, speakers stressed why all 10 points of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act must pass this legislative session. Featured speakers included actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, leader in the black feminist movement Barbara Smith, legislators who have championed women’s equality, attorney to Jane Roe in the Roe v. Wade case Sarah Weddington, women with personal experience of unjust treatment under the law, and leading advocates from across the state.

“I believe to my core that every individual, every family, deserves equal treatment under the law and that’s what the women of New York State deserve,” said Cynthia Nixon. “2011 was the year New York lawmakers stood up for equal treatment for the LGBT community with the passage of the Marriage Equality Act. Let’s make 2013 the year they stand up for women by passing the Women’s Equality Act. The people of New York State want to see their elected representatives do what’s right for women, and we want to see it now.”

“As the legislative session draws to a close, the 10 million women of the state are energized and ready to see the full Women’s Equality Act voted on and passed,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, a member of the New York Women’s Equality Coalition Steering Committee. “New York is on the cusp of becoming a leader for women’s equality. It is time for our state to say ‘yes’ to pay equity, extending protections against sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, advancing protections for survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence and protecting a woman’s right to make her own personal, private health care decisions. The eyes of New York’s women are on the legislature, waiting to see this historic Act passed. Constituents want to see their elected representatives stand up for the women of the state.”

“I truly believe that New York is one of the best states in the world,” said actress Kathy Najimy. “Amongst chaos is a deep soul and respect for diversity, culture and equality. A commitment to supporting humanity and the ‘right thing to do.’ My belief is now further strengthened by Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act. At a time when women’s birthright – the right to choose the course of her own life and make her own decisions in matters of her body – is a dangerous slippery slope, this agenda is ‘THE right thing to do.’ Bravo Governor Cuomo, Brava New York, and let this be the re-start of our determination to only move forward towards issues of freedom, respect and reproductive rights for all.”

“Gender based inequality is not only a moral issue; it’s also, quite simply, bad economics. There is no question that providing equal opportunities for women is critical to our State’s economic future. In order for business, labor and New York State to prosper, we must work together to improve the workplace for women. That’s why I support the Women’s Equality Act,” said Cynthia DiBartolo, Executive Board Member of the Business and Labor Coalition of New York and as Chairperson of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce.

A March Siena poll showed that more than 80 percent of New Yorkers want to see the commonsense reforms in the Women’s Equality Act become law. The sheer number of New Yorkers making the trek to Albany to show their support for the Women’s Equality Act is a testament to the overwhelming support for this Act.

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