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The Mamafesto: Kudos to NYC Mayor de Blasio on Commission on Gender Equity

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

NYC mayor creates a new, historic commission to tackle gender equality

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of the Commission on Gender Equity, a group committed to working toward economic mobility and social inclusion of all New Yorkers, particularly women and girls, and ensuring their public safety.

“New York is a city spiritually defined by inclusion and diversity, and it’s imperative that all New Yorkers, regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation, are treated equally,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This historic new commission will help us use every tool we have to create a truly equal city for all New Yorkers.”

This commission will replace the Commission on Women’s Issues, which was established in 2002. According to a press release, the commission will have First Lady Chirlane McCray serving as the honorary Chair, and will:

  • Serve as an advisory group to the Mayor on initiatives and methods to achieve the goals of the mayor’s platform to reduce inequality, with a focus on gender-based inequality

  • Advocate for women, girls, transgender and intersex residents and support programs that have been created to remove barriers to full participation in all areas of women’s personal and work lives

  • Study the nature and extent of both the intentional and unintentional discrimination that women face in the City of New York, and their impacts on the economic, civic and social well-being of women

  • Make recommendations to the mayor regarding legislative or executive action to improve the lives of women

  • Educate the public about women’s issues

  • Support and work collaboratively with the network of organizations in the public and private sectors working to expand opportunities for women

  • Work with the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office of Appointments and advocacy and community organizations to identify and hire an Executive Director of the Commission, and additional members of the commission.

This is all pretty major. It's centering women, girls and specifically transgender residents and looking at issues of discrimination and barriers that affect them. Beyond looking at challenges that affect women, part of the commission's goals will be to educate the general public about issues impacting women. This is huge, as it recognizes that everybody has a hand in recognizing and supporting women, as it uplifts and helps the entire community.

The goals of the new commission are lofty and inspiring, yet it seems as if they have strong action plans as well, so this committee is not just lip service to say that the city is trying to help this often neglected and discriminated population. I'm hopeful, as Chirlane McCray, the wife of Mayor de Blasio and a political figure in her own right, will be heading up things as honorary Chair. On her #FLONYC blog, she explains what the commission is all about:

It means we will work to ease access to housing for all families, and institute more family-friendly employment policies in our workplace. It means we will work to place more she-roes in our Fire Department and Police Department. And it means we will work to make sure women being paid the same as their male counterparts for a day’s work.

The bottom line – we will accept nothing less than the full inclusion of women and girls of all ethnicities in our City – and I’m talking economically, socially and politically.

I will be eagerly watching to see what great things this new commission does to help women in NYC.

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