Photos Courtesy of Joanna
By Michael V. Cusenza
Inspired by this weekend’s Women’s Marches across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced new actions to empower girls in New York as part of his 2018 Women’s Agenda: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity.
According to the administration, the proposals will help young people to forge healthy relationships; work to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math; provide mentoring and leadership opportunities for girls across the state; and ensure access to menstrual products in public schools.
“When New York acts, the nation notices,” Cuomo said on Sunday in Manhattan. “When New York was the first big state to pass Marriage Equality we changed the debate all across the nation and we made it a reality in this country. We’re going to do the same thing with women’s rights. We’re going to pass this women’s empowerment agenda. We’re going to take this moment of pain and outrage and we’re going to make it a positive, and we’re going to use the energy, and then we’re going to go across the nation and say it’s a new day, and the dawn of a new era where women get full respect, full equality, no glass ceiling, we respect a woman’s right. We’re going to do it in New York and we’re going to do it all across this country.”
Earlier this month, Cuomo detailed the 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York: 30 proposals “to advance equality and promote opportunity in women and girls’ health, safety, workplace, and family life.” On Monday, the governor unveiled new actions to empower Empire State girls, including:
“Be Aware-Be Informed”
Cuomo proposes that the State Education Department and the Department of Health coordinate to create a K-12 learning module for healthy relationships. Such curriculum will include the same definition of consent used in the successful Enough is Enough law to foment a common understanding for all students. Other topics will include age-appropriate information on confronting and avoiding sexual harassment and assault and teen dating violence, as well as medically accurate sexual health.
Access to Computer Science
This year, Cuomo has pledged to launch New York’s largest State investment to expand high quality computer science education by offering teacher support and resources in computer science and technology, especially for the youngest learners, starting as early as kindergarten and creating a continuum through high school. Cuomo proposes a commitment of $6 million a year for the Smart Start program that will provide grants to schools for teacher development in computer science. All schools will be eligible but grants will go to the highest need schools first, according to the administration. Additionally, schools that receive an award will work with their Regional Economic Development Councils to tailor the program to regional businesses or future employers’ needs.
Mentoring, the governor noted, is recognized as a drop-out prevention strategy by the U.S. Department of Education. Cuomo relaunched the State Mentoring program in 2015. In 1984, at the request of her husband, Gov. Mario Cuomo, Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo created and implemented the State Mentoring Program, the nation’s first statewide unique school-based one-to-one mentoring program to prevent school dropout. Today, the program serves 1,766 students in 97 school-based sites across New York.
“If You Can See It You Can Be It”
To encourage more girls to enter “non-traditional” occupations and pursue positions in leadership in all fields, Cuomo announced an “If You Can See It, You Can Be It” campaign. As part of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, born more than 25 years ago in New York, the State will enhance internal programming and partner with top New York companies to give more young girls the opportunity to shadow women leaders in “non-traditional” fields. The State will also work to connect homeless youth, youth in foster care and young people from low-income areas to programming where they live.
Access to Feminine Hygiene
Products in Schools
This year, the governor has pledged to propose legislation requiring school districts to provide free feminine hygiene products, in restrooms, for girls in grades 6 through 12.
Cuomo said that these new proposals demonstrate the State’s “commitment to empowering women throughout their lifetimes, and showing girls that they can do anything.”
Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul, chairwoman of the New York Women’s Suffrage Commission, echoed Cuomo’s sentiment.
“We know women’s lives are shaped by their experiences as girls. To give every girl in New York a great start, our Women’s Agenda will ensure that girls – and boys – learn to distinguish between healthy relationships and abuse and receive age-appropriate, medically-accurate sexual education in the classroom. We will also give girls the tools to become confident, successful women by focusing on mentoring and exposure to non-traditional and high-earning careers,” she said. “The only way to truly change our culture once and for all is to implement changes at every stage of a woman’s life.”
Graham/Mayoral Photography Office; and the Office of the Governor