Brookline’s Binder is Filled with Strong Women
The Brookline Tab is doing a great job highlighting diversity, or lack thereof, throughout the town of Brookline. Its recent article, “Women, Minorities Underrepresented,” and I am happy to have the opportunity to expand more on the topic here.
There are several programs that serve as an important resource for women and therefore, families, across Brookline and the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) works with legislators and stakeholders advocates for increased access to equality and opportunity for women and girls in the Commonwealth. The mission of the MCSW is to provide a permanent, effective voice for women across Massachusetts.
Commissioners have worked hard this past year advocating for legislation that would have a powerful effect on women. The MCSW supported passage of An Act Further Defining Comparable Work. Passage of this bill would help to eliminate the wage gap by ensuring that work requiring similar skill, effort, responsibility and performed under similar working conditions be compensated equally. In 2010, women made on average $0.77 for every $1 earned by men, when controlling for factors such as education level and work experience. This figure has remained basically stagnant since 1993. The wage gap is not closing itself. This bill is also a critical component of economic recovery. The majority of jobs lost during the recession were lost by men, leaving more households dependent upon women’s income. Brookline families cannot afford to wait any longer for steps to be taken toward closing the wage gap once and for all.
Women also face unnecessary financial burdens when purchasing individual disability insurance. Disability insurance providers often charge women upwards of 75 percent more than their male peers. This is blatant gender discrimination and a direct violation of the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment.
Sexual assault and domestic violence remain some of the most pervasive concerns facing women in the Commonwealth. The Commission has recommitted itself to advancing efforts in this area and commends the work of policy makers dedicated to achieving progress on behalf of survivors. By endorsing and advocating on behalf of An Act Providing Housing Rights to Victims of Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault and Stalking, the Commission hopes to ensure that nobody in Massachusetts will ever have to choose between their safety or the safety of their family and keeping or finding housing. Rest assured, your volunteer Commissioners are working hard to advocate for the needs of women across the Commonwealth.
And as a Brookline resident and Co-Chair with Casey Hatchett of the Brookline Commission for Women, I would be remiss if I did not mention the great work that is being done in Brookline by the BCW, a commission that strives to support women in all aspects of their lives and promotes the cultural, racial, and economic diversity of Brookline. Each year, the BCW holds an annual women’s clothing drive and a children’s clothing drive (co-sponsored this year with Brookline Rotary). With the recent 2010 Census data showing the increasing poverty rate and widening wealth inequity, these clothing drives are even more necessary in Brookline.
Recognizing the difficult fiscal times, the BCW, the Brookline Chamber of Commerce, and Brookline Economic Development have joined together to bring a series of programming aptly named WeCAN (Women Entrepreneurs Collaborating and Networking) for current and prospective women entrepreneurs.
Additionally, every March for Women’s History Month, the BCW, with support from the Brookline Community Foundation, holds the Women Who Inspires Us event which consists of an annual essay contest among fifth, sixth, and seventh graders. Each year, students are asked to write about a “Woman Who Inspires Me.” The essay contest winners and the special woman in their lives are invited to a reception to honor these exceptional women who have impacted so many young people. Also as part of this event, the BCW honors one woman from the community who has made a remarkable impact on the Town and people who live here. The Woman Who Inspires Us is a heartwarming event where the town gathers to celebrate the many women who have positively touched their lives and work to make Brookline an even better place to live.
The commissioners meet monthly and are hard at work in planning programs to continue its work to support and promote the women of Brookline. For more information and to volunteer, please contact the BCW at [email protected] and join us on Facebook (Brookline Commission for Women).
Chris Chanyasulkit, Commissioner (Asian American Commission, MA Commission on the Status of Women, Brookline Commission for Women), BAAFN Steering Committee Member, Emerge MA Class of 2012, TMM Precinct 13.