The YWCA USA surveyed our local associations in the United States to identify their top legislative priorities for the 113th Congress. Specifically, local leaders were asked about their top legislative concerns regarding women’s health and safety, women’s economic empowerment and racial justice – the three broad issue areas in which the YWCA offers programs. Survey respondents included YWCA association Executive Directors, program directors, advocacy specialists and staff. Based on the survey results, the YWCA USA will move forward with three primary issue areas in order to promote a strong and effective advocacy platform that reflects our collective voice and the work of our associations. Our associations will be surveyed in the fall of 2014 to assess their priorities for the 114th Congress (spanning 2015-2016).
The YWCA USA will focus its national advocacy efforts on legislation to:
1. Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): As the largest provider of domestic violence shelters in the U.S., the YWCA is deeply committed to initiatives that promote safety and security for women and families. (Read more about the YWCA’s anti-violence programs.) The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is our top legislative priority for the 113th Congress. The YWCA USA is calling for the swift and immediate passage of the reintroduced VAWA bill, S.47. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was signed into law in March 2013 .
2. Reform National Immigration Policies: Local associations nationwide provide racial justice programs to more than 330,000 clients annually, including: assisting immigrant victims of violence in navigating the justice system; providing racial justice training to the community; working with victims of human and sexual trafficking; voter education and mobilization; affirmative action, and working to end hate crimes. YWCAs across the country are deeply committed to advocating for a common sense immigration process that keeps families together here in the U.S., provides adequate protections for immigration victims of sexual violence and trafficking, and that creates a roadmap for citizenship for the 11 million who aspire to be citizens.
3. Ensure Deficit Reduction Protects Women and Children: Job loss, stagnant wages, rising income, and wealth inequality have taken a terrible toll on single moms, communities of color, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations. Our local associations have been asked to do more to help those in need during a time of decreased donations and less government funding. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are three sources of domestic discretionary funding that enable YWCAs to the provide vital services to women and families nationwide, including childcare, job training, transitional housing and domestic violence and sexual assault services. The YWCA calls for Congress to develop a fair and balanced approach to addressing our nation’s debt and deficit that places military spending and revenue on the table and protects the most vulnerable in our nation and the vital social programs that serve them.