Cuomo Proposes Programs To Empower Girls Across State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is proposing new actions to empower girls in New York state as part of his 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity.

Cuomo said the proposals will empower young people to forge healthy relationships, work to close the gender gap in STEM, provide mentoring and leadership opportunities for girls across the state and ensure access to menstrual products in public schools.

“New York leads the nation in championing women’s rights and breaking down barriers to equality, and that mission starts when women are girls,” Cuomo said. “With these proposals, New York is demonstrating our commitment to empowering women throughout their lifetimes, and showing girls that they can do anything. Our 2018 Women’s Agenda will continue to raise the bar higher and higher for women in New York, beginning with policies to equalize the playing field for our youngest women.”

Items include:

CREATE THE “BE AWARE-BE INFORMED” LEARNING MODULE TO EMPOWER YOUNG PEOPLE TO FORGE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

According to the Center for Disease Control, New York students report a higher rate of physical dating violence than the national average, and more than one in six female high school students in New York report being forced into sexual activity. New York state law enforcement respond to more than a half a million domestic violence calls a year, and domestic violence is the reason cited for 25 percent of homeless women and children. In addition, more than 42 percent of dating violence incidents took place on school property, but only 3 percent of students notified an adult. Research suggests that these patterns of unsafe dating behaviors can begin as young as eleven. However, effective education about the prevention of dating violence has been shown to lower its incidence by 60 percent.

Cuomo proposes the state Education Department and the Department of Health coordinate to create a kindergarten through 12th grade learning module for healthy relationships. Such curriculum will include the same definition of consent used in the Enough is Enough law to foment a common understanding for all students. Other topics shall include age-appropriate information on confronting and avoiding sexual harassment and assault and teen dating violence, as well as medically accurate sexual health.

WORK TO CLOSE THE GENDER GAP BY GIVING THE YOUNGEST LEARNERS ACCESS TO COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Cuomo will launch New York’s largest state investment to expand high quality computer science education by offering teacher support and resources in computer science and technology, especially for the youngest learners, starting as early as kindergarten and creating a continuum through high school. Cuomo proposes a commitment of $6 million a year for the Smart Start program that will provide grants to schools for teacher development in computer science. All schools will be eligible but grants will go to the highest need schools first. By providing teachers support to become in-house experts in computer science, more students will be exposed to computer science and will self-select into it. Schools that receive an award will work with their Regional Economic Development Councils to tailor the program to regional businesses or future employers’ needs. In addition, Cuomo will convene a working group of educators and industry partners to create model computer science standards to be made available to any school.

CONTINUE THE SUCCESSFUL NEW YORK STATE MENTORING PROGRAM

Approximately 13,000 students, more than six percent, still drop out of high school every year. The dropout rate is even higher for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners. Mentoring is recognized as a drop-out prevention strategy by the United States Department of Education.

A study of more than 14,000 adolescents found that youth with an adult mentor were twice as likely to attend college as their peers. Yet only half of youth in poverty report having an adult mentor. Research has found that youth with mentors were less likely to break the law or experience substance abuse. Mentors make a difference in helping students of all backgrounds succeed. A separate study found that girls that engaged in a supportive mentoring relationship were four times less likely to participate in bullying behaviors than girls without mentors.

LAUNCH “IF YOU CAN SEE IT YOU CAN BE IT” A DAY FOR GIRLS TO SEE WHAT IS POSSIBLE

To encourage more girls to enter “non-traditional” occupations and pursue positions in leadership in all fields, Cuomo is announcing an “If You Can See It, You Can Be It” campaign. As part of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, born over 25 years ago in New York, New York state will enhance internal programming and partner with top New York companies to give more young girls the opportunity to shadow women leaders in “non-traditional” fields. The State will also be working to connect homeless youth, youth in foster care and young people from low-income areas to programming where they live. Additionally, the State will also develop an “If You Can See It, You Can Be It” PSA campaign and launch a learning module to give a broader audience of girls the tools to realize a limitless future.

ENSURE ACCESS TO FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Many young women in New York lack access to feminine hygiene products, which are as necessary as toilet paper and soap, but hardly ever as available or free. In New York, 42 percent of children live in low income families. This year, Cuomo will propose legislation requiring school districts to provide free feminine hygiene products, in restrooms, for girls in sixth through 12th grades. This important step will make New York state a leader in addressing this issue of inequality and stigma, ensuring that no girl’s learning is hindered by lack of access to the products her biology demands.

COMMENTS