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Violence Against Women Act Among Legislation Backed by National YWCA

By Clare Gravon, Regional Director, YWCA Greater Heartland Region
June 25, 2012
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Vice-President Joe Biden at the conference. (Photo: Monica Zulauf)
Vice-President Joe Biden at the conference. (Photo: Monica Zulauf)

Throughout its 150-year history, the YWCA has been many things, but it’s always been an organization committed to social justice through advocacy and direct service programs. As a regional director for the YWCA, I see so many current issues intersecting with the mission of the YWCA. Whether it’s health and safety measures for women, reproductive rights and health care benefits, equal pay protections, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, or student loans, the lives of Minnesota women and girls are directly impacted.

All of these gains are under attack, and some have referred to this assault as a “War on Women.” In a recent Ms. magazine article, national YWCA CEO Gloria Lau said, “War. . .involves lives that are lost and people who are trying to survive. The consequences of the denial of contraceptive care and the defunding of domestic violence programs are indeed lives lost.”

At the YWCA national conference in Washington, D.C., last month, Vice President Biden spoke movingly and personally about his motivation as the original author of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. All of us who heard Biden speak were inspired by his passion and his example.

Most recently, the Vice President demonstrated his commitment to preventing and ending violence against women and girls by launching a PSA campaign titled, “1is2many,” featuring professional male athletes speaking out about violence against women.

YWCA CEO Gloria Lau addresses attendees. (Photo: Monica Zulauf)

Not all YWCAs are directly involved in domestic violence work, but collectively the YWCA is the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country. We here in Minnesota are blessed with a strong nonprofit sector, including separate institutional structures for addressing violence against women. However, as an organization that empowers women, we know that safety and security are fundamental, and that access to health care and equal pay, as well as affordable student loans, are all essential to the well-being of Minnesota women and girls.

Whether you’re a first-time voter or a veteran campaigner, go to and join with the 77,000 YWCA staff and volunteers nationwide who are mobilizing around all of these issues.

Contact YWCA Minneapolis and join the coalition that is working to defeat amendments to our state constitution that would limit the freedom to marry and to disenfranchise voters through Voter ID.

But whatever you do, and whatever issue speaks to you, make yourself heard on behalf of Minnesota women and girls. I marched in the Pride parade on Sunday to show my support for LGBT civil rights, and I wrote a check to the YWCA of Minneapolis to support its public policy work. Oh, and I wrote this blog post!