Recapping Our Conversation with New Jersey YWCA Leaders & Senator Cory Booker

Categories: Advocacy, Blog

We were honored to have the opportunity to discuss the byproducts of systemic racism and its impact on women of color with our sister YWCA leaders,  YWCA Northern New Jersey CEO Helen Archontou, our own Executive Director Tay Walker, YWCA Union County CEO Janice Lilien, and U. S. Senator Cory Booker.

Watch Here

L-R YWCA Princeton Executive Director Tay Walk, YWCA Union County Jan Lilien, Senator Cory Booker, and YWCA Northern NJ CEO Helen Archontou

Here are some of the highlights and key points discussed:

YWCA Union CEO Janice Lilien asked: healthcare disparities are enormous and are growing among Black women and women of color. COVID has exacerbated these disparities. What can we do to address this?
Senator Booker: we are in a time of crisis and most americans don’t recognize the depth of it. There’s no justification for the fact that pregnant African American women have a mortality rate 4x that of white women. African American women are also more likely to live in toxic areas and food desserts and these disparities are manifestations of violence.
Related Legislation: The ReDUCE Act to study and address health disparities.
“We cannot let ourselves grow comfortable with the status quo. What was normal before this crisis was unacceptable. We must continue to push policies and legislation that will help us heal the gaps in healthcare and opportunities.” – Senator Booker
YWCA Northern New Jersey CEO Helen Archontou asked: Black women and women of color experience bias surrounding issues of domestic violence and law enforcement, etc. How can we make sure their voices are included in part of the current focus for change in these systems?
Senator Booker acknowledged he’s the 4th properly elected African American in the Senate’s history and he was stunned at the lack of diversity in one of the most important legislative bodies in not only our nation but the world. He advocated for public accountability on diversity in the Senate, and every Senator now needs to publish diversity statistics on their staff. This has lead to a shift and increase in having women of color hired in committees and in authority positions.
Senator Booker pointed out the need to reform the treatment of women in prisons, and described when he visited a womens’ prison and heard that mothers had to chose between purchasing tampons or calling their children– this lead to the introduction of the Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caretaker Parents Act in the New Jersey to make it easier for incarcerated parents to keep in touch with their family members and specifically improve prison conditions for incarcerated pregnant women
Senator Booker on crafting impactful policies: “It’s indispensable to have women at the table.”
YWCA Princeton Executive Director Tay Walker said: quality, affordable, accessible early childcare is crucial in reducing barriers to successful workplace participation by women, especially Black women and women of color. With parents laid off and unable to work due to COVID the need for childcare has diminished yet it is also crucial for ensuring a return to workplace participation. How can we support childcare providers and families in need?
Senator Booker acknowledged that in most states childcare is more expensive than tuition at your local state college. Original co-sponsor of Universal Childcare and Early Learning Act and the Prospect Act for childcare at no fee to parents enrolled in community college.
Senator Booker shared that he will be advocating for childcare in the Senate and urged for us to “invest in the genius of our children” as a nation.
We appreciate the Sentor’s time and attention for the policies that matter to us.
Remember to register to vote and make sure the priorities of women, girls, families, and communities of color are at the forefront of your decisions when you’re at the ballot box!