By Courtney Smith
The New York Junior League held its first Legislative Breakfast in several years on Thursday, November 7, 2019. The event provided a platform to discuss the importance of women’s voices in advocacy and the NYJL’s advocacy priorities this year. The keynote speaker was to be Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has been an active NYJL volunteer for many years.
The breakfast opened with NYJL President Lauren Jenkins Chung, who welcomed Rohan Narine, South Asian Indo-Caribbean Community Liaison to the Mayor, who presented the NYJL with a letter from the Mayor, that showed his support.
“NYJL has been a tremendous ally in the mission to end injustice, advocating for women from all backgrounds for over 100 years. I applaud the NYJL staff and volunteers for forging a brighter future for New Yorkers.”
Following Mr. Narine and the Mayor’s Office was Kathleen Daniel, Field Director of the NYC Census 2020.
“The census is the largest mobilization in the country in peacetime. This is today’s civil rights movement in America. We have a right to be counted, no matter where we live, no matter our background. No one has the right to count us out.”
Ms. Daniel said there was only 69.1% participation in the 2010 New York Census, there has never been an accurate census, and the only way to prepare for and support our citizens is by first counting them. She encouraged NYJL volunteers to join NOCC (Neighborhood Organizing Census Committee) to help spread the word on the census and ensure everyone in the community is counted.
Leading into the Keynote address, Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff took the podium to deliver Rep. Maloney’s apologies for being unable to attend the event due to unexpected congressional proceedings in Washington D.C. that morning. Chief of Staff Sarah Hague shared the excitement of Rep. Maloney to be one step closer to having the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) resolution approved in Virginia, which would ratify the amendment and place it in the Constitution, thereby stating women’s full and complete equality as the law of the land.
Women’s History Museum
Congresswoman Maloney is working to pass a bill to establish a Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C. Junior League supported an earlier bill to establish a congressional commission to study the need for a Women’s History Museum. She hopes to increase representation and attention paid to the contributions of women.
“If we don’t make a better effort to tell our children the full story of the people who shaped our Country, if the stories of the remarkable women who shaped our Country today are simply omitted, women will continue to get caught in historical quicksand, and simply sink out of sight.”
Currently, the bill has the support of 293 bipartisan members and is on its way to passage in the House of Representatives.
Voting Rights Advocacy, Awareness and Education
In closing remarks, NYJL President Lauren Jenkins Chung thanked the speakers and honored guests for attending the Legislative Breakfast and reflected on the NYJL’s long history of advocating for women and the incredible struggle for women’s voting rights 100 years ago. President Chung announced that the NYJL’s newest issue for the coming years will be Voting Rights Advocacy, Awareness and Education. The New York Junior League will develop and pilot a new learning module for young adults, and create a training curriculum that emphasizes advocacy skills, the importance of civic engagement, and citizens’ rights and responsibilities in voting.