Brooklyn Young Democrats Women’s Caucus Launch Speakers (left to right) Monique Chandler-Waterman, Latrice Walker, Christina Das, Diana Richardson, Keshia L. Adams, Steph Wheaton, Tremaine Wright, and Pamela Harris
Wednesday, July 26, 2017, marked a monumental evening for Brooklyn Young Democrats (BYD) with the official launch of their Women’s Caucus. Co-chaired by BYD’s Executive Vice President, Christina Das, and one of their newest members and community advocates, Keshia L. Adams, the caucus aims to strengthen community ties between women of Brooklyn, as well as empower more young women, with an emphasis on women of color, to run for office. Joined by eight of Brooklyn’s leading ladies, including Assemblywoman Latrice Walker of the 55th District, Caroline Piela-Cohen, Attorney & Community Advocate, Monique Chandler-Waterman, Executive Director of East Flatbush Village, and Assemblywoman Pamela Harris of the 46th District to name a few, this was an inspirational night for 60 young women of Brooklyn.
“There is a real issue when women make up over half the nation’s population, yet we hold less than one-third of elected offices,” BYD’s EVP Christina Das, a proud first generation Indian American said, “It’s a tragedy.”
In fact, in a city where women outnumber men by approximately 400,000, New York City still has a strong disparity of female to male elected officials. Sadly, only twenty-five percent of City Council members are women (13 out of 51 members), with four of them term-limited in 2017. Even with initiatives like 21 in ‘21, there is still tremendous opportunity for women to get more involved. Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright of the 56th District said, “it’s not only important to empower young women to run for office, but also build a strong community of women that will be there to support and uplift one another.”
Assemblywoman Pamela Harris of the 46th District echoed these sentiments speaking about her background as a former corrections officer and a survivor of sexual assault, “We need to advocate for women and speak up for ourselves. We need to educate ourselves on the discrimination that occurs daily, and not allow it.”
In Brooklyn particularly, a borough where the majority of small businesses are owned by women, there is an even greater divide of women-electeds holding office. Even with the increase in women running for office throughout the city, there are still far too few elected women. In fact, less than twenty-five percent of local offices are run by women, with the amount of women of color in those positions even less.
As a first generation native of Crown Heights, Brooklyn of West Indian descent, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson of the 43rd District spoke about gentrification, and emphasized the importance of women of color to put themselves out there to prevent products of gentrification from further under-representing the already marginalized. “It’s all about the rent,” she says, “and it’s vitally important that women educate themselves as renters and as homeowners in order to maintain their culture and values.”
So how can women get involved in their local politics? District Leader Tori Burhans Kelly of the 49th District encourages women to go to their District Leader and ask about how to get elected for local positions like county committee or community board. Other ways to get involved in your communities include joining a Brooklyn Democratic Club.There are seventeen clubhouses throughout Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Young Democrats that serve each community. These clubs will assist you in getting on the ballot and dial you into the issues that matter most to your community. There are also an abundance of nonprofit agencies working tirelessly to advocate and support your communities, like East Flatbush Village, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit committed to providing support and information to indigent populations.
“With so many different ways for women to get involved, now is the time to use these resources and come together as a community,” Christina Das said. “Now is the time to resist!”
With over 60 new and existing members of Brooklyn Young Democrats attending Wednesday’s event, Christina and Keshia are already channeling this momentum to propel the Women’s Caucus forward, and will be partnering with one of the night’s speakers, Amy Bettys from #GetOrganizedBK‘s Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights, and with Eleanor’s Legacy to organize a Civics and Campaign Workshop, as well as a session on Campaign Fundraising.
To join Brooklyn Young Democrats and be part of the Women’s Caucus, please visit their site at https://www.bkyoungdemocrats.com/, or email Christina and Keshia directly at Brooklynyds@gmail.com. You can also get involved with the New York State Young Democrats’ Women’s Caucus by following them on Facebook or by reaching out to the Caucus Chair, Veronica Aveis at Veronicaaveis@gmail.com.