Richards and Women Advocacy Groups Call on Passage of Women's Equality Act

Jun 12, 2013

Credit WXXI News

Representatives from a number of women's advocacy groups joined Rochester's mayor on Wednesday calling on state lawmakers to pass the governor's women's equality agenda.

Gov. Cuomo's 10-point women's equality proposal addresses discrimination against women in the workplace, stopping sexual harassment, providing equal pay and protecting domestic violence victims.

At City Hall, Jamie Saunders, the CEO for Alternatives for Battered Women, says the governor's proposal "just  makes sense" and is a necessary step in moving women's rights movement forward.

"Where there's inequality in our relationships, in our community that's where power and control and violence thrives. So this entire act is for our community. This entire act is for all of us, and we urge you to pass it."

Saunders says 1-in-4 women have reported domestic abuse in Monroe County. Mayor Tom Richards says the measure would help break down gender barriers.

"I thought it was important for me, both as the mayor and personally, because I believe in it, and to provide a forum, quite frankly, for the women that you saw here."

Richards’ mayoral opponent, City Council President Lovely Warren, says Richards' push for lawmakers to pass Cuomo's women's agenda is  "insincere".

"When you have the opportunity to advance women in an administration, or hire women, and what you chose to hire is something different," Warren says. "Then how can you stand to say I support this gender equality."

Richards says it's easy to confuse an unfinished job with a failure.

"It's not a matter of taking attendance, you know, that's not what this [the Women's Equality Act] is about," he says. "What it says is people are treated equally and fairly paid and I don't know of no circumstance, since I've been in here, that that law is being violated in anyway."

Currently, Cuomo's women's equality agenda doesn't have the support of Senator Joseph Robach. That's due to the abortion piece of the legislation.

Representatives from the YWCA, Susan B. Anthony House, New York Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood also spoke.