United Way urges creation of new commission to advocate for women
Region – The United Way of Tri-County is helping to push for a new commission to provide information about and advocate for the status of women and girls in the Metrowest area.
Jen Maseda, senior vice president, United Way of Tri-County, testified Sept. 17 in front of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government at the State House in Boston. She spoke about the benefits of establishing a Metrowest Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, similar to the commission recently established in Worcester County and part of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.
If approved, Bill 1842, sponsored by State Senator Karen E. Spilka, D-Ashland, would create the Metrowest commission “as a portal of information that legislators and other groups can look to when making decisions about funding programs,” Maseda explained.
Each region is allowed to establish its own commission, she noted, but the Metrowest commission is unique because of the inclusion of girls in its title and charter. This will ensure “that we prepare our future women as early as possible to continue towards success,” Maseda said in her testimony.
In its informational and advocacy role, the commission will investigate such issues as childcare, sick time, equal pay, teen pregnancy, and education, particularly in math and science.
“We need this commission in Metrowest in particular, because although we know there are over 400,000 women and girls in our region, it is a challenge to put our hands on information related to those women and girls,” she told legislators.
Maseda said the United Way has already begun the process of collecting this information through its Women's Alliance, leading to “perfect synergy between the United Way and the Metrowest commission.”
In addition, while other commissions seek grant funding, the Metrowest commission would be unique because it would already have access to funding through the United Way's Women's Alliance.
“This will provide more security and more of a foundation for the commission,” Maseda said.
Eight volunteers will make up the commission tasked with submitting an annual report for the governor. Maseda hopes to be considered to be on the commission and encourages other women in the community to apply. Even if they are not selected as one of the eight, “there are other opportunities to get involved.”
When asked how legislators responded to her testimony, Maseda said: “I think they recognize the importance [of the commission] and appreciate that no tax dollars will be used.”
The bill to establish the committee will now go to the Finance Committee, Maseda said. Since no money is attached to the bill, is should pass quickly through that step, she noted, before seeking approval of the governor.
Maseda said she is looking forward to working with the new commission, if approved. “Women should have every opportunity to be as successful as others in the community,” she said.
For more information about the United Way of Tri-County, visit www.uwotc.org.
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