Christine Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council and current spokeswoman for the Woman’s Equality Party (WEP), chatted with sherights about the need for a political party focused on women’s rights, Election Day and much more. Read on!
Why does New York need a Women’s Equality Party?
Women are not treated equally, period. It’s outrageous that in 2014, women still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. The situation is even more dire for women of color, with black women making 66 cents and Latina’s 55 cents on the dollar compared to white males. And this is just one of many issues. Women face sexual assault, sex trafficking, domestic violence, workplace discrimination and other challenges at unacceptable rates.
The Women’s Equality Party is about making these issues a priority because women deserve equal pay, equal choices and equal chances. We are not done pushing for progress until we have reached full equality.
For two years in a row, New York failed its citizens by letting the Women’s Equality Act die in the New York State Senate. We were unsuccessful in getting the job done for women and need the Women’s Equality Party to ensure we’re only electing candidates dedicated to fighting for equality. If we get 50,000 votes on November 4, the Women’s Equality Party will be the first official political party in the United States focused first and foremost on women’s issues.
What is it about the WEP that really excites you and got you to sign on as a spokeswoman?
People are frustrated and disappointed by what we as women experience every day. I’ve heard so many women’s stories and learned about the issues they care about most—addressing workplace discrimination, pay inequity, salary and hiring discrimination, domestic violence response and housing assistance issues, to name a few.
One of these women is Kangela Moore, a school safety agent from Queens who was making $7,000 less a year than other male officers and decided to take action to get the pay and respect her and her colleagues deserved. Another inspiring women, Zoe Rdolfi Starr, was sexually assaulted during her freshman year at Columbia University. Enraged by her school’s response and lack of action to sexual assault cases, she took a brave stance to advocate for more comprehensive rape and sexual assault policies on college campuses. These are the women that inspire me to represent the Women’s Equality Party. I owe it to Kangela, Zoe and all women to push for progress.
I’m also supporting the Women’s Equality Party for the women in my family. My goddaughter is a freshman at NYU this year. I fear that when she graduates and starts her career, she won’t be equally recognized and compensated compared to her male co-workers. I want to ensure that she’ll be legally protected and fairly rewarded, regardless of her gender. We need a platform for women’s voices to be heard. We need to be sure we’re doing better for the next generation.
If you’re successful in getting the necessary votes on Tuesday to have New York recognize the WEP as a political party, are you concerned about pulling votes away from mainstream Democratic candidates, thereby jeopardizing our political landscape?
The Women’s Equality Party is not an ‘instead of’ initiative. As we’ve seen with other parties in New York, the Women’s Equality Party will co-exist and collaborate with other parties to make New York stronger for women.
Election Day is about providing voters a platform to cast their ballots for the issues they care about most. We’re creating a reason for people like me, who are incredibly passionate about women’s issues, to exercise their democratic right to vote. I know when I check the Women’s Equality Party box on November 4, that the candidates I’m voting for are going to fight for women’s rights.
Have you received any backlash for having a man (Gov. Cuomo) lead the charge of the WEP?
Gov. Cuomo has shown tremendous commitment and dedication to women’s equality and shares the frustration that myself and so many others felt when the Women’s Equality Act failed to pass again last year. This is a personal issue for the Governor. He has three daughters and is determined to pass women’s equality legislation for them and for all New York women.
Our main goal is to elect candidates like Gov. Cuomo who share a common commitment to supporting women’s equality. Without support from allies, we will not successfully advance women’s rights. It’s important to remember that there has never been a successful movement that has not had the support of all types of people. We need men and women, from all backgrounds and perspectives, to stand up for women this election.
If the Women’s Equality Act (finally!) passes, what would be the WEP’s next order of business?
First and foremost, we need to pass all ten points in the Women’s Equality Act. It faltered in the State Senate two years in a row because of opposition to its tenth point to codify Roe v. Wade. If for any horrible reason we lose choice from the Supreme Court, New York women need to know they will not lose their right to choose in their state. We will not settle for nine of the ten points.
This is definitely just a first step for us. The eleventh point on our agenda is to implement policies that address the growing rates of sexual assault and rape on college campuses and the inaction by universities to do something about it. It’s become an increasingly worrisome and disturbing issue, something that we need to work to correct immediately.
I’m just sick of women’s issues being ‘other’ – something discussed at a conference once a year. We need to continue to elect candidates who will stand up for stronger policies against sexual assault on college campuses. We need to assure our candidates are representing the issues we care about most.
Do you see national potential for a WEP?
Right now, we’re focused on November 4 and getting 50,000 New Yorkers out to vote on the Women’s Equality Party line. As an official political party, we will have the same democratic process and opportunity as other political parties to organize and endorse candidates focused on women’s issues.
I definitely see the formation of this party as indicative of a bigger movement for women’s rights. This is just the beginning and we’re excited to give women a platform and voice in New York elections.