New York City councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito smiles as she speaks after being elected speaker of the city council inside of City Hall in the Manhattan borough of New York on Jan. 8, 2014.
Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

NYC Council to launch initiative targeted at young women of color


New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Thursday morning will announce the Young Women’s Initiative, the first city initiative in the nation designed to invest specifically in the futures of young women of color.

“For too long, young women in New York City have experienced systemic disparity in all areas of life, whether its healthcare, education, or equal pay for equal work,” said Mark-Viverito in a statement.. “These injustices are especially pervasive for young women of color, who have been denied opportunity for advancement and success time and time again throughout history. We are here today to say ‘no more.’ It’s time we stand up with women everywhere tackle this inequality head on—and this first-of-its-kind initiative will do just that.”

The goal of the initiative will be to combat what Viverito describes as chronic inequality that has faced young women in New York. The City Council will begin the multi-year project by convening a committee of community organizations, women’s advocates, and policy experts to research the issues affecting young women and present their recommendations on what issue areas to invest in and what actions to take.

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“We have been hearing over the years about the resources and attention dedicated towards young men, of color, in particular. The President has an initiative for young men; here in New York, Mayor Bloomberg had a young male initiative and it’s continued under Mayor de Blasio,” Mark-Viverito told msnbc. “Young women face certain disparities and inequality, and now we want to figure out ways that we could focus an initiative looking at young women in particular, and women of color, primarily.”

“When we look at the issue of inequality, it’s really magnified when we start breaking it down when it comes to race and gender,” said Mark-Viverito, noting that the initiative will focus broadly on issues that affect women of color in particular, as well as LGBT women. The specific issues the program will focus on will be up to the working group, but could include issues such as education access, economic mobility, wages and job creation, reproductive access and preventive health care, and more. 

Mark-Viverito has long been an advocate for women’s rights in the New York City Council. She will officially announce the launch of the Young Women’s Initiative at the New York Women’s Foundation Breakfast on Thursday morning, alongside the co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus in the New York City Council.

“This is the first time in the country that this is being done … We’re hoping that it serves as motivation for other cities to look at doing something similar,” said Mark-Viverito.