By Danielle Marse-Kapr Senior Advocacy and Policy Associate for Economic Empowerment, YWCA USA
I talk about the wage gap a lot. Before coming to work at YWCA USA as the Senior Advocacy and Policy Associate for Economic Empowerment, I spent nearly 5 years working at YWCA Orange County (NY) developing and running programs to help women increase their incomes and close the wage gap. I often hear people on both sides of the aisle disputing the very existence of the wage gap. In honor of Equal Pay Day — the day in the year that women must work to earn what men did in the previous year — I’d like to set the record straight.
America is a nation of immigrants. The very roots of our nation’s birth and development are built on the traditions and cultures of people from different backgrounds. These differences make our country unique. Because of these traditions we owe it to ourselves to make certain the immigration system includes a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans, promotes family reunification, and meets the economic, business and employment needs of the U.S.
The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. One of our fundamental goals is to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. Citizenship is the fundamental sign of allegiance to the U.S., our Constitution, and our way of life. The League supports a system that allows immigrants currently in our country to obtain legal status by paying taxes, learning English, and studying civics. These are fundamental steps to integration in American society, and it is in the interests of current citizens, immigrants and future generations that we build one nation.
2013 is nearly here, so let’s take a step back and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. For the YWCA, looking back helps us remember what we can achieve together, and to plan for how we will continue to empower women and eliminate racism in coming years.
YWCAs across the country have truly made an impressive difference in their communities. Our local associations worked hard to serve the two million women and families who participate in our programs every year. Here is just a sample of their many achievements:
The YWCA York, as part of a Human Trafficking Task Force, increased awareness about the widespread trafficking taking place in their community at their Cocktails for a Cause event. YWCA USA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., discussed the YWCA USA’s commitment to empowering survivors of violence.
Janet Marcotte, YWCA Tucson Executive Director, presented the 2012 YWCA USA Women of Distinction Award for Civic Engagement in honor of Gabrielle Giffords to her mother, Gloria Giffords. May 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
The Annual Conference is a time to build strong bonds with your colleagues from other YWCAs and to learn best practices from YWCA staff and workshop leaders. I had many favorite moments from the 2012 YWCA Annual Conference. One was seeing Gabrielle Giffords’ mother, Gloria, accept the Women of Distinction Award for civic engagement on behalf of her daughter. To hear a mother speak so sincerely about her daughter and her accomplishments in the face of tragedy was very touching. Another highlight was a valuable workshop session that provided me with a new perspective on women with ambitions to be elected to leadership positions in government. It offered a realistic view of the components that go into building a successful campaign and was eye-opening and very intriguing. And, the experience of meeting with our Congressional legislators was very empowering. I would love to see that sea of YWCA persimmon marching up Capitol Hill again.
I am a Latina who has been working to help the young women of Beverly’s House at the YWCA of Central Orange County since 2006. I assist the young women by providing academic and employment guidance. Working for the YWCA as a Latina has been a unique experience. Although being bilingual has been important in my experiences working with clients, being bi-cultural has had more of an impact. During the six years I have been working for the YWCA, I have met many young women that identify with Latino culture on different levels. As the only Latina staff member, I feel a great sense of joy helping these young women celebrate their Latino heritage by, for example, introducing Latino cuisine during our Sunday dinners or holiday dinners, or exposing them to great Latino artists such as Fernando Botero or the literary works of Isabel Allende.
Leah Moss, 23, launched JACK Detroit magazine when she had trouble landing a job after college graduation.
When one door closes another one opens. Well…it’s supposed to. These days, being a college graduate doesn’t get you access to many doors that have job opportunities behind them, much less a returned phone call.
According to the New York Times, just 56 percent of the class of 2010 had held at least one job by spring 2011, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007.