More than 500 groups announced a partnership Monday called the New York Women’s Equality Coalition to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s women’s agenda.
“Providing equal opportunities for women is critical for our state’s economic future,” said Cynthia DiBartolo, chairwoman of the state Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses in New York depend on a female workforce, so therefore it is only natural that collateral issues affecting health, safety and stability be a priority.”
DiBartolo said businesses that invest in women and are free of discrimination have an advantage because they will reap rewards in economic returns with better long-term investments.
Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda includes the push for equal pay for men and women and steps to decrease instances of sexual harassment, human trafficking and gender discrimination. They are also pushing for a Reproductive Health Act that would codify abortion rights in New York.
“These are issues that are of equity and fairness, that are not just good for women but they are good for our families, good for our economy, and good for our state,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women in New York City.
Anne Pope, the northeast regional director of the NAACP, said women in the state earn 84 percent of what men earn. She said the gap is even more for women who are of African American or Hispanic descent.
The State Catholic Conference said the Reproductive Health Act proposed by Cuomo would endanger the lives of women by expanding abortion. The act would allow for late-term abortions and for any licensed healthcare practitioner to perform an abortion. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, told reporters Monday that he would oppose the measure.
“This dangerous and extreme change clearly puts women’s health at risk, and mirrors a national abortion strategy to permit non-doctors to perform abortions due to declining number of physicians willing to do so,” the conference in a statement last week.
The women’s coalition is calling for all 10-points of the agenda to be passed, including the Reproductive Health Act. They said it is an “all or nothing” effort, and they want all of the issues passed by both houses.
“We applaud the governor for developing this agenda and together, with the governor and the Legislature, we will achieve equity for all New York State women and truly make New York a model for the rest of the nation,” said Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the state League of Women Voters.