YWCA of Queens Attends UN Women Global Launch of Beijing+20

By Jane Lee
Communications & Outreach Associate, YWCA of Queens

From left: YWCA Queens HSE Students Umme Sheuli, Moises Churio, Adrian Lezcano, Director of Center for Education & Career Services Stacy Mckelvey, Communications & Outreach Associate Jane Lee, and HSE Student Erick Menendez at the Apollo Theatre in New York

From left: YWCA Queens HSE Students Umme Sheuli, Moises Churio, Adrian Lezcano, Director of Center for Education & Career Services Stacy Mckelvey, Communications & Outreach Associate Jane Lee, and HSE Student Erick Menendez at the Apollo Theatre in New York

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women launched its year-long Beijing+20 Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it! campaign on Thursday, June 26, 2014. The campaign is a year-long movement with the mission of cultivating global dialogue and actions on women’s rights and gender equality. Several staff and students from the YWCA of Queens attended the Beijing+20 launch event at the Apollo Theatre in New York City. Our High School Equivalency (HSE/GED) students were eager to listen to the amazing line-up of speakers and performers, ranging from the UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to noted feminist leader and activist Gloria Steinem.

Recap: YWCA NCA Capitol Hill Day

By Tamika L. Gittens
Contributing Blogger, YWCA NCA

Did you know that 85% of domestic violence victims are women? (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003)

The YWCA National Capital Area recently participated with several other YWCA associations across the nation for Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill to talk about domestic violence, an issue plaguing local and national communities. In an effort to demonstrate the damaging and permanent effects that domestic violence has on women and children, we engaged Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in discussions on gun violence and its impact on domestic violence. We shared statistics to help them reexamine current laws pertaining to ownership of firearms, and the need for more policies and programs to safeguard and support victims.

To Be Cured of HIV

For about a year, there has been much discussion about the possibility of a cure for HIV. Visit POZ’s website to learn more about the many different aspects to this conversation.

For BABES Network-YWCA’s summer newsletter, we asked the question: What would it be like to be cured of HIV?

Some people in our community have been living with HIV for 6 months and some have been HIV+ for 30 years. Each person’s life has been impacted by their HIV diagnosis in different ways and have done their best to live healthy and engaged lives. Being cured of HIV is not something BABES Network has often thought about – but now that we could possibly have a cure in 10 years, we think it’s important to consider what that would mean for us as individuals and for our communities.

Top Five on Friday – October 4

By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA

The government shutdown has taken over the media cycle this week, and its impacts will be felt by more people and programs as it continues – including some YWCA programs, which rely on critical funding from agencies that are currently closed. Below, we’re sharing the latest on the shutdown and who’s affected, and what to watch for in the upcoming week as the stand-off continues.

Rememeber: YWCA hotlines and shelters will remain open. Search for a YWCA near you to find out more.

Immigration Reform in Post 9/11 America

By Deepa Iyer
SAALT Executive Director

Originally published on 5/28/13.

Right now, our lawmakers are in the midst of considering landmark immigration legislation. This policy debate is fundamentally grounded in one question: how should we treat immigrants here in the United States now, and those to come?

The answer to this question is especially important to the communities with whom I work at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). Three-quarters of the South Asian community are foreign-born. We are undocumented students, H-1B workers, green card holders, and immigrant entrepreneurs. South Asians have also experienced the impact of harsh immigration enforcement measures, especially in the years following September 11, 2001. In fact, for many South Asians, Muslims, and Sikhs, being an immigrant in post 9/11 America has come at a heavy price. Our community members have borne the brunt of a backlash which has manifested itself in workplace discrimination, school bullying, racial and religious profiling, surveillance, and hate violence, as well as immigration enforcement often meted out in the context of national security.

What Immigrant Moms Want for Mother’s Day

By Reshma ShamasunderDirector, California Immigrant Policy Center

Originally published on 5/10/13. 

Like most moms, Mother’s Day for me is an opportunity to celebrate with my children and family, and reflect upon how deeply I cherish motherhood. While supporting our children as they grow and adapt to the world is joyful, we moms face so many challenges along the way — the pain of watching our child fall off a bike, face hurtful words from a friend, or experience disappointment at a bad grade. These are all normal parts of childhood, and as tough as they are, these difficulties also make our children stronger and more resilient.

But there are some things moms shouldn’t have to worry about. Moms shouldn’t have to worry that they have to choose between paying the rent and keeping their families healthy, between food and a trip to the doctor.

But these are just the types of impossible situations many immigrant mothers find themselves in every day. As a country, a few years ago, we recognized that all individuals should have access to quality and affordable health care, for themselves and their families. We recognized that mothers shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table or taking a sick child to the doctor. As a result, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA)and most residents of the United States from children to adults to seniors will have access to high quality, affordable health care beginning in 2014.

A Family History of Social Activism: The YWCA and my Great-Grandmother’s Legacy, Pt. 2

By: Casey Harden
YWCA USA Vice President of Association Services

On Monday, I shared my family’s history of involvement with the YWCA. This week, I’d like to share more about the YWCA’s history of empowering women and fighting discrimination, as we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month.

In the late 19th century, many of the women involved with the YWCA were part of a religious revival that was sweeping the Northeast and points west. My great-grandmother was a religious woman, and shared the values of the many other activists and suffragists involved with the YWCA.

YWCA of New York City in  the early 1900's.

YWCA of New York City in the early 1900’s.

In 1858, the YWCA began as a movement in the United States to aid young women who were moving from rural areas, looking for work in cities. These women often lived and worked in unsafe living conditions, prompting the first association to establish safe housing shelters starting in New York in 1860. Associations began to form in more cities, like Boston, Hartford, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. By 1875, there were 28 YWCAs in existence, as well as over 100 student associations, and in 1907 a National Board was formed in New York.

At this time in history, women were considered to be frail – too weak for exercise or even typing lessons. The YWCA provided women with opportunities to improve their health through something considered scandalous at the time: physical exercise. Locations across the country offered women health and recreation activities like swimming and basketball. YWCA Portland’s Athletic Director Lillian Hansen said it best, arguing in 1920 that, “Girls need to cultivate a spirit of fair play—they are going to need it if they intend to compete in business and politics with men.”

A Family History of Social Activism: The YWCA and my Great-Grandmother’s Legacy

By Casey Harden
YWCA USA Vice President of Association Services

Throughout its history, the social activism of the YWCA has been at the forefront of its mission to bring more opportunities to women and their families. I’m proud to say that my great-grandmother is one of the bold leaders who joined the YWCA to fight for social justice in the early 1900s.

Elsie Templin

Elsie Templin

My great-grandmother, Elsie Templin, whose photo I keep in my office at the YWCA USA, helped to found a YWCA in Elkhart, Indiana. This was just one of her legacies: she was an active suffragist, and was instrumental in the formation of numerous women’s groups in Elkhart during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as a clinic for women to provide pre- and post-natal care.

Elsie gave birth to twins when the movement to medicalize childbirth and breastfeeding was in full swing. Midwives were being displaced by physicians, and there was a misinformed reaction against the use of breast milk. Elsie was not able to produce enough milk for both of her infants. Often in such cases, women turned to other new mothers—wet nurses—to obtain breast milk for their children. Her mother-in-law, however, was an imposing and imperious woman, who insisted that the use of a wet nurse was “immoral” and “unsanitary.” Despite Elsie’s every effort, Doris, one of the twin girls, did not take to the animal milk and formula that were recommended as substitutes.

As a result, Doris died. Within a week, Elsie, her husband, and their other newborn, Phyllis, had packed up their home and were on a train to Elkhart, Indiana—to begin a new life in the shadow of their loss.

Take Action to Reauthorize VAWA!

By Qudsia Jafree
YWCA USA

For nearly 18 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has provided a national, streamlined response to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Adams-Cantor (H.R. 4970) version, which failed to include provisions that help immigrant, Native women and LGBT communities. The vote was 222-205, with 23 Republicans voting against the bill and 6 Democrats voting for the bill. The YWCA opposed H.R. 4970.

VAWA is expired as of last year and still awaiting reauthorization. Currently, Congress continues to be in gridlock and has not moved forward on reauthorizing this important bill. Those in need cannot wait much longer. Nearly 2,600 women have been murdered as a result of domestic violence and sexual assault since VAWA expired.

Aunt Irma’s Second Chance: Part 2

This post is the second in a two-part series about breast cancer awareness. Read part one here.

Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia

I’m Irma Garcia and this is my story.

I was born in Mexico, in a small town near Guadalajara City. I’m the oldest of nine kids, born to my parents, Max and Emilia. Because our economy, I had to start working at the age of nine and drop out of school.

Coming from a lower-income family and with the education we had, we thought we just needed to go to the doctor when we were really sick. We didn’t know about serious illness or health education, or that we needed to have physical exams – at least, that was my knowledge. I knew people die from car accidents and heart attacks, but the word cancer was not in my vocabulary, or in my life.

We did not go to see a doctor for three reasons:

  1. Because we didn’t have money.
  2. Because of our poor health education; we used home remedies.
  3. Because it was embarrassing to have doctors examine you, especially if you were a woman. Just the thought of being seen by a doctor was already scary.

Those were our thoughts and our beliefs. Because of this, I had my first Pap smear at the age of 30 and, sadly, I had my first mammogram at the age of 45. I found out I had cancer.