Civil rights organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) and allies are strong influences in encouraging women to participate in civic engagement, as well bring light to the experiences and needs of women. Currently, NOW chapters across New York State are joining forces with a historically broad coalition of more than 300 organizations to push forward the New York State Women's Equality Act legislation.
The Women's Equality Agenda is a 10-point plan that will strengthen our laws and tackle issues that are key to equality.
These 10 points are:
Protect a Woman's Freedom of Choice by Enacting the Reproductive Health Act
The Reproductive Health Act would update New York State's antiquated abortion laws and guarantee a woman's right to control her reproductive health. The Reproductive Health Act also ensures that a woman will be able to have an abortion if her health is endangered and guarantees everyone the right to use or refuse contraception
Achieve Pay Equity
Women in NY earn 84% of what men earn, and the gap is even more severe for African-American and Hispanic women, who earn 66% and 55% of that earned by non-Hispanic men in New York State, respectively. Women earn on average $11,000 less per year than men in similar jobs. The Agenda proposes increasing the amount of damages that can be awarded in pay discrimination cases, making it tougher for employers to discriminate based on sex. It also seeks to prevent employer retaliation against employees sharing wage information.
Stop Sexual Harassment in All Workplaces
Women are five times more likely to be victims of sexual harassment or domestic violence. Three fourths of the sexual harassment complaints filed in NYS are filed by women. This Agenda would protect workers from sexual another forms of harassment regardless of the size of the workplace and, an employee of any business may file a complaint for sexual harassment.
Allow for the Recovery of Attorneys' Fees in Employment and Credit and Lending Cases
Over 75% of the employment and credit and lending cases in NYS are filed by women. The Agenda would amend the current law to include a provision for reasonable attorneys' feed for successful litigants, and ensure that victims of employment and credit and lending discrimination have an opportunity to vindicate their rights.
Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws
Agenda will address stigmatizing language written in the laws, will close loopholes for exploiters, and will increase accountability for traffickers, including livery drivers. The Agenda also strengthened the existing law to remove requirements that "coercion" be proven when the victims are minors, and create an affirmative defense in prostitution prosecutions that the defendant's participation was a result of having been a sex trafficking victim.
End Family Status Discrimination
Women with children are less likely to be hired and promoted. This Agenda would amend the current law to prohibit employers from denying work or promotion to workers simply because they have children.
Stop Source-of-Income Discrimination
Female-headed households account for 76% of all housing choice vouchers issues, including Section 8 vouchers. This Agenda would amend the Human Rights Law and would prohibit landlords from discrimination against tenants based on lawful sources of income.
Stop Housing Discrimination for Victims of Domestic Violence
Women are more than twice as likely to encounter housing or lending discrimination. Under current law, domestic violence victims have no protection from housing discrimination, meaning landlords can evict victims under zero-tolerance policies. This Agenda would protect domestic violence victims when they attempt to purchase, rent or lease housing and would prohibit landlords from inquiring about victim status.
Stop Pregnancy Discrimination Once and For All
The Agenda would create specific legal protection in the Human Rights Law requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions. It would also amend current law to prohibit employers from denying work or promotion to workers simply because they have children.
Protect Victims of Domestic Violence by Strengthening Order-of-Protection Laws
This Agenda will ensure that victims of domestic violence will be allowed to provide all requited testimony to get a restraining order by video-conference.