WOMEN SHAPING HISTORY 2016
Women’s City Club of New York:
One Hundred Years of Activism
By Jacqueline Ebanks, Exec Director, Womens’ City Club
Jacqueline Ebanks, Exec Director, Womens’ City Club
For Women’s City Club of New York (WCC), 2016 is a momentous year, commemorating a century of advocacy, activism, and civic participation. WCC is a nonprofit, non-partisan, multi-issue activist organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers. To promote responsive government, WCC shapes public policy through education, issue analysis, advocacy, and civic participation.
Today, WCC continues to advocate for economic, racial, social, and gender justice. “Our goal is to dismantle barriers and create opportunities to greater social and economic equality for all New Yorkers,” says Executive Director Jacqueline M. Ebanks. WCC convenes member-led Task Forces that conduct research, publish reports, foster dialogue with public officials, and launch public education and advocacy campaigns in seven areas: Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Good Government, Health, Housing and Homelessness, Income Inequality, and Public Education.
At its centennial launch in December 2015, WCC presented its Centennial Medal for Women in Leadership to elected officials. Recipients included New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, all the women of the New York City Council, and New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who observed “New York has made great progress to achieving equality. But our work is not done...[it’s] important for organizations such as the Women’s City Club to continue to adapt to the needs of women today and to keep the push for equality in the forefront.”
On January 31, 2016, exactly 100 years after its first meeting, WCC held its Inaugural Founders’ Day Celebration, featuring a keynote address by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who received a Centennial Medal along with WCC’s former Presidents. In her address, the Senator noted, “members of this organization have fought hard on every major women’s issue of the last hundred years, from the right to vote to equal pay in the workplace. And as the Women’s City Club begins its second century, it’s more important than ever that we keep encouraging women to raise their voices to demand change.”
Recent programs included Lunch with Legislators, an ongoing series featuring City and State elected and appointed officials; forums on workplace support for breastfeeding mothers and on reforming the youth criminal justice system, presented in collaboration with the Citizens’ Committee for Children and the Correctional Association of New York. A one-day conference on social programs and policies that tackle inequality is planned for the fall.
Among the visionary Founders and early members of the WCC was Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet and the longest-serving Secretary of Labor, holding the position under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. Perkins implemented many aspects of the New Deal, including unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans through the Social Security Act. #