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A historic election: Record wins for women, women of color

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Tiffany Wang
twang@ywca.org

Statement from YWCA USA on the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections

Washington, D.C.  Last night was a historic election night, with record-breaking victories from women and people of color both on the ballot and in voter turnout. An unprecedented number of women ran in the 2018 midterm elections, many for the first time, and women won more seats in Congress than ever before. More than 100 women were elected to office, including over 40 women of color, and there were a number of historic firsts, including:

  • Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to Congress
  • Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native women elected to Congress
  • Abby Finkenauer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest women ever elected to Congress
  • Sharice Davids, the first openly LGBTQ+ Representative in Kansas and the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color in Congress
  • Young Kim, the first Korean American woman ever elected to Congress
  • Jahana Hayes and Ayanna Pressley, the first Black Congresswoman ever elected to Congress in Connecticut and Massachusetts
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, the first Latinx Congresswomen from Texas
  • Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s first female Senator
  • Kim Reynolds, Janet Mills, Kristi Noem, and Lou Leon Guerrero, the first female governors of Iowa, Maine, South Dakota, and Guam
  • Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer, the first female Representatives from Iowa
  • Angie Craig, the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBTQ+ member of Congress from Minnesota

Statement from YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Y. Castillo:

“We applaud the diversity and historic ‘firsts’ in this new cohort of elected officials. From governorships to the House, it is truly exciting to see leaders who are more reflective of the makeup of our country—an increasingly diverse populace of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, young people, and so many more. We are thrilled to see our communities represented like never before, and we look forward to a government that will better represent our values and vision of an inclusive, equitable, just society.

“This is the kind of change that happens when we use our collective power to make our voices heard. Over the past year, we have continued to rally, organize, mobilize, register people to vote, and encourage civic engagement in our communities. Women—and women of color in particular—have led the way this election season, not just as candidates, but as organizers, volunteers, and activists pushing for change and powering grassroots activism. YWCAs across the country engaged in a massive effort to get out the vote in their communities. As an organization that services over 2 million women, girls, and their families each year, we know that our health and safety are acutely impacted by policies and officials on the ballot. Last night’s historic wins and impressive voter turnout—so far, an estimated 113 million people participated, making it the first midterm in U.S. history to exceed over 100 million votes—are evidence of the progress we can make when we organize and work to center the issues and needs of women, families, and communities of color.

“Our voices matter because our future matters. We know that, while we are heartened by this election’s many historic wins, there is still much work to be done. We must continue to stay active, practice civic engagement, and fight to end our country’s legacy of voter suppression and disenfranchisement—something that has an outsized impact on communities of color—for future elections. And as we have for the past 160 years, YWCA will continue to support and advocate for the needs of women, girls, and families across the country, including the Violence Against Women Act, equal pay, paid family and medical leave, an end to racial profiling, and other policy solutions that are so central to our mission.

“While we welcome this new wave of diverse political leaders and celebrate the progress made, we will keep working to move policies forward that allow women, girls, and people of color to be safe and empowered, and we will continue to hold all of our elected officials accountable to ensure that they truly represent the interests and needs of our communities. We are committed to fighting for racial and gender justice, helping families, and standing up for ourselves and our communities, and we won’t stop now.”

 

YWCA Statement on the Mass Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue

The following is a joint statement from YWCA USA and YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Board of Directors and Senior Leadership:

We continue to offer our sincerest condolences to the individuals, families, friends, neighbors, and loved ones affected by the tragedy in Pittsburgh this past weekend. We offer our full support to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and the organizations working to assist them as they begin their journey towards healing.

Saturday’s incident is further proof that work remains to be done in Pittsburgh. We acknowledge that Saturday’s attack was the culmination of a series of events last week fueled by hateful rhetoric, bigotry, and intolerance. We must continue to be outraged by all lives lost due to violence, hate, and white supremacy, and work to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

For our partners and providers working closely with our beneficiaries impacted by this violence, several comprehensive resource lists are circulating. We have provided links to a few of them here:

We are asking our network of supporters to join us in contributing to the local Victims of Terror Fund. These funds will be used for psychological services, support for families, general services, reconstruction, security in the community, medical bills for individuals involved in the attack, and any other counseling or supportive services necessary for the local community to heal from this trauma. United Way of Allegheny County will match all contributions to the Victims of Terror Fund 100% up to $100,000.

We will not be intimidated by this act of violence, and we will continue to fight each day to end all forms of discrimination in Pittsburgh, and across the country. For over 150 years, we have worked to strengthen our communities by showing up for one another and working to root out hate and violence—we won’t stop now. Everyone must take responsibility and direct action in speaking out against the rising tide of hatred and intolerance in the United States.

 

From Suffrage to a Seat at the Table

Source: Time Magazine

 

By Saryn Francis, Communications Associate, YWCA USA 

August 26th is known to many as Women’s Equality Day, a day that commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote.

Although this was a momentous day in women’s history, it is important to recognize that not all women were actually guaranteed the right to vote after the 19th Amendment was passed. For decades after, Black people, Asian American women, Native women, LGBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, low-income women, and more faced obstacles to exercising their right to vote – and to this day, many still face huge obstacles to make sure that their voice is heard at the polls.

Although marginalized women have continued to face barriers to voting and representation, we are inspired by all the women today who are pushing the envelope and fighting to get seats in office and to get their voices heard.

Throughout American history, women (especially those of color) have been underrepresented in Congress, making up only 7 percent. This year, women are breaking new records in 2018 primaries in congressional and gubernatorial races. As of mid- August, 49 percent of women who have run for a seat in the House of Representatives have advanced to the general election, 40 percent in the Senate, and about 25 percent running for governor.

And women of color are making waves and making history. 400 Black women are running for office this year, and there has been an outpouring of Latinx and Asian American women, as well as historic numbers of Native women, running for seats at the table. Queer and trans folks are also working towards greater representation, with more than 400 incumbent LGBTQ+ candidates running for office in all levels of government, according to the Victory Institute.

Since 1920, the year the 19th Amendment was passed, there has been much success in fighting for gender equity in the United States – but the work is far from over. Women, especially women of color, LGBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, and others from marginalized groups, still face many difficulties that even go beyond civic engagement. In the current state of our country, we know that our lives are at stake. Our stories and our voices need to be heard.

Our elected officials deeply affect the communities we live in, so it is imperative that we have lawmakers and political representatives who reflect and respect our issues and needs. A Washington Post article states that women of color see the 2018 midterms as an opportunity to challenge the status quo and break down barriers – and we fully agree. As we head towards November, we must support and uplift women, especially women of color.

The time is now to put folks in office that reflect our communities, our ideologies, and our values. All women deserve not only a seat at the table, but to have their voice included, heard, and amplified. Women of color have an important story to tell and it is time for others to step aside so that we can tell it our way in our own voice.

YWCA USA: Stop Allowing Abuse

Friday, February 9, 2018

STATEMENT BY YWCA USA CEO ALEJANDRA Y. CASTILLO “Domestic violence continues to be an epidemic impacting one in four women in the United States. One of the primary reasons domestic violence continues at this pace is because abusers face little to no accountability for their actions. Often, they are protected by other people in power,… Continue Reading YWCA USA: Stop Allowing Abuse