Column: Women to the front

New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, left, swears in Kathy Hochul as the first woman to be New York governor in Albany, New York, U.S., Aug. 24, 2021.
Hans Pennink/Pool via REUTERS

Hi! If we have not met yet let me introduce myself. I am Amanda Farías, your local City Council member in District 18. It is my job to introduce and vote on legislation, facilitate land-use decisions, negotiate the city’s budget with the mayor, monitor city agencies, and represent the needs of our community at a citywide level.

As someone who was born and raised in Soundview, a neighborhood I now represent, I am always putting our community first.

March is Women’s History Month. In honor of this celebration I wanted to take the time to remember how far our city has come since the first woman was elected to the New York City Council in 1937. Now, less than 100 years later, women hold 31 of the 51 council seats making us the majority. As the co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, which is now the largest in caucus history, I am overwhelmed with how many women are making history in their local communities this year. In our community, we have our first Black female borough president, half of our Bronx Delegation are women of color, our attorney general is a Black woman, and we have our first female governor of New York state!

To have this many women in leadership positions means that our government is starting to have a more exact portrait of the people it represents, including having representation that looks like our communities. As a result, new priorities have emerged, such as more focus on policies surrounding families, paid leave and childcare. The input from women in elected office has helped change our public discourse around topics that were once an afterthought. In my opinion, having more women at the table has resulted in better outcomes for our families and our communities.

If we want things to be done differently, we have to be proactive and step up to start making the difference we all need to see. Our newly elected officials have been getting straight to work to start delivering on policies and initiatives that previous leadership left stagnant, oftentimes due to political motivations. For example, our new governor quickly rolled out plans on transformative new policies around transit equity and cannabis; the attorney general is fighting corruption and holding men in power accountable for their actions; and our council members wasted no time in helping their communities stay healthy by distributing food, PPE and at-home COVID tests.

Women have not only been leaders in the traditional sense of winning elections and holding titles, but they also are the most participatory voting bloc. Women, especially women of color, turned out to vote in record-breaking numbers this year. Several news publications have pointed out how much more responsibilities women have had to take on amid COVID-19, including child and elder care, taking the lead on at-home education, and leaving the workforce at higher rates than men. Even with numerous responsibilities in and outside of the home, so many women still took the time to vote. It is because of them that we were able to have a historical number of wins this year.

Women are the glue of our families, our society’s economic success, and our public health. As one of the newly elected women leaders, I came into this role to work hard to ensure we not only create jobs that are inclusive to women, but also create careers that women want and can thrive in. For Women’s History Month (and honestly every month), we have to make it a priority to always support and uplift the women in our lives and our communities.

Amanda Farías is the council member for the 18th District, representing parts of Castle Hill, Clason Point, Harding Park, Parkchester, Shorehaven and Soundview.

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