Hudson Valley News
9:28 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Regional Women's Equality Coalitions Form in NY

Credit WAMC/Allison Dunne

Supporters of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda gathered today in six locations throughout the state. They held events to launch regional coalitions of a statewide Women’s Equality Coalition that formed in March.

The Hudson Valley regional chapter kicked off Thursday outside a union hall in Rock Tavern, not far from Newburgh. The regional coalitions consist of business leaders, women’s organizations, religious leaders, and labor groups, all trumpeting their support for the Women’s Equality Agenda – a 10-point plan Governor Cuomo introduced in his state-of-the-state speech in January. The Reverend Dr. Gawain de Leeuw, a pastor at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in White Plains, in Westchester County, spoke at the Rock Tavern rally.

Milan Bhatt, co-executive director of the Kingston office of the Worker Justice Center of New York, spoke about a mother of two who worked more than 80 hours a week at minimum wage at a local steakhouse, and who was fired soon after becoming pregnant.

Bhatt, an attorney, says another part of the agenda would outlaw sexual harassment in all workplaces, no matter the size.

In addition to addressing issues of pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment, the plan includes further protections for domestic violence victims, stronger laws against human trafficking, and, what has become a controversial part of the agenda, the Reproductive Health Act. Again, here’s Reverend de Leeuw:

Dennis Poust is a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, which opposes what Poust calls an Abortion Expansion Act.

That’s Democratic State Assemblyman James Skoufis, who represents parts of Orange and Rockland Counties. He did not speak at the rally, but was there in support.

And here’s Executive Director of the YWCA for Orange County Christine Sadowski:

Events were held in Buffalo, Hudson, Mineola, on Long Island, Rochester, and Schenectady, with more gatherings planned in two other locations next week.