Women lawmakers outnumber men in New Haven. Women also make only 88 percent of what men do in the marketplace.
The above two facts are amid a cascade of information contained in a multi-year study on the status of the 68,000 women and girls who live in New Haven.
The report was previewed Tuesday by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, which commissioned the study. It looks in depth at how women and girls are faring in town, their health, their job prospects, their education, you name it. City government’s Community Services Administration and the Consortium for New Haven Women and Girls prepared the report.
The final draft of the report will be publicly released in coming weeks. Meanwhile, the preview offered Tuesday revealed that, among many other facts, 16 of the Board of Aldermen’s (make that Board of Alderwomen’s?) 30 members are female, while women comprise only 40 percent of the membership of other city government boards and commissions; single women head 23 percent of New Haven households; and 58 percent of the New Haveners who voted in 2008 were ... women. Black and white women represent roughly a third each of New Haven’s female population; Latinos, 23 percent; Asians, 6 percent. In the city’s six lower-income neighborhoods, women reported higher heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and asthma rates than did their male counterparts.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women and girls descended on the Omni Hotel’s ballroom Tuesday afternoon for a convention of sorts, to talk about the report, about their lives, and about how to improve the reality reflected in the report.
The ballroom had a Seneca Falls-like air, with placards and planned speeches, exhibits on women’s economic and social progress, and a series of speeches ready to roll. Journalist Michelle Turner moderated a keynote panel featuring famed chef and author Claire Criscuolo, city Community Services chief Chisara Asomugha, activist Nilda Aponte, and Community Foundation Senior Vice-President Penny Canny.
Those discussions were followed by public “pledges,” personal promises to make positive change happen, from many of the over 500 women present.
Click on the “Cover-It Live” box below to follow a live-blog discussion of the event as it unfolded. Participants included the Independent’s Ariela Martin (who’s also a student at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, the New Haven Register’s Angela Carter, La Voz Hispana’s Norma Rodriguez-Reyes, and the Inner City News’ Babz Rawls-Ivy. Add your own thoughts.
Some of the pledges made by participating women, written on cards distributed by organizers, included:
“Be more healthy and help my BFFs to be healthy! Help young women to be secure in their skin.”
“To create and establish a group of Latinas, women and girls, that understand and participate in voter registration and become part of boards and commissions.”
“Dedicate my life to mentoring girls and young women—for their advancement and empowerment as well as for peace and justice of our planet earth.”
“Create and help foster positive self-images in young women.”
“Continue my education which well allow me to become a more effective advocate in my community and in woman’s health.”
“I pledge to remind my girlfriends to get their annual mammograms.”
“Make opportunities for women to feed their children, without them going to McDonalds every night.”
“Accommodate the needs of working mothers.”
“An establishment of mentorship for transitioning students from high school to college.”
Tuesday’s event was the second in a series of “convenings” the Community Foundation is organizing to prompt discussion of pressing issues. (The first was about the arts.) The Independent cosponsored Tuesday’s event.