This week, the NY Women’s Equality Coalition launched a brilliant new campaign, Illegal or Just Sleazy?, that takes a fresh approach to push for passage of the Women’s Equality Agenda (WEA), legislation that would update and strengthen New York State laws to reflect the reality of women’s lives. Specifically, it aims to preserve women’s access reproductive health care, ensure fair treatment in the work place and help survivors of violence.
Sonia Ossorio, President of NOW-NYC (a member of the NY Women’s Equality Coalition), was kind enough to talk with sherights about the WEA, why this campaign is needed and how you can take action. Read on!
The new Illegal or Just Sleazy campaign is meant to shine a light on how vintage the laws are for New York women. Can you give a brief overview of what needs upgrading?
Employers with less than four workers are exempt from the state’s sexual harassment laws, even though they make up 60% of private businesses. And landlords can — and do — get away with refusing to rent to victims of domestic violence, even though finding a place to live is essential to escaping an abusive relationship. Pregnant women are being fired for something as simple as needing to hold a water bottle or take an extra bathroom break. These are only a few examples of how our outdated laws are impacting women’s lives in fundamental ways. Losing your job and your health insurance just months before having a baby? This is actually happening to women today.
How aware do you think the general population is of New York’s antiquated laws, given its reputation for being progressive and a beacon of social change?
We’re doing this campaign to let New Yorkers know just how much of a need there is for change. We have a reputation as a progressive state, but the fact that we still can’t get something as fundamental as the Women’s Equality Agenda passed means that we still have work to do!
Why do you think there has been insufficient movement in the NY legislature to push this forward?
Many of our legislators championed this legislation, but at the end of the day, the leadership could not find a way to come to agreement and nothing got done for women. This is legislation that is on the table right now, but without any action we will be starting from zero next year.
What action can a person take to help make sure the Women’s Equality Agenda becomes law this year?
The best thing people can do is get engaged with our campaign. Signing our petition to pass a Women’s Equality Agenda takes only a minute. Watch our Illegal or Just Sleazy? video and share it with everyone you know. It’s hilarious, I promise. You can also call your legislators and let them know that you want to see this become law. They represent us, and it’s up to them to figure out how to make this a reality.
Editor’s note: On Twitter? Tweet your support for the campaign using the #UpgradeNY hashtag!