Alexandria Starting the Conversation on the Status of Women: Can You Join In?

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The Vola Lawson Lobby of Alexandria City Hall was filled to hear the Status of Women report assembled by the Commission for Women. Photo by Lucelle O’Flaherty

By Amanda M. Socci

The Alexandria Commission for Women (CFW) has officially started the conversation on the status of women. Can you join in? All 15 members of this important city-appointed volunteer group would really appreciate hearing from you. This was the overarching sentiment expressed on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, when the CFW held a press conference to announce the release of their Status of Women report.

Alexandria City Mayor Allison Silberberg kicked off the press conference noting the importance of the report because “it gives a statement on inclusiveness. Alexandria is a city of kindness and compassion. Diversity is a core value.” The 47-page report sets forth a detailed set of data that paints a stark black-and-white picture of how women and girls experience things differently than men and boys, but also includes concrete ways to implement changes within the city in ways that will better serve women and girls.

“We still have to work towards quality and inclusion”

CFW member Liz Johnson gave an overview of the data, impressively rattling off statistics that touched upon each of the major areas within the report, including health care, employment, housing, and transportation. The numbers were helpful in gaining an understanding of how and why women and girls experienced a greater level of disparities.

Though Alexandria City received its first report about women’s issues in the 1960s, Ms. Johnson felt, “we still have to work towards quality and inclusion” and the release of the report was the first step in that direction. Throughout the press conference, there was a clear sense that all of us were being asked to participate in CFW’s call to action by joining the conversation on the status of women.

Ms. Johnson spoke confidently with hope firmly rooted as a seed-starter in the conversation. Knowing that the city has a duty to serve men and women equally, Ms. Johnson hoped the ensuing conversation would effect a “shift in perspective … [especially because] women’s perspectives must be considered.”

Kate Garvey, director of the Department of Community and Human Services, echoed Ms. Johnson’s sentiments. “Without focusing on the disparities [in how women and girls are treated], we will miss important things.”

L to R: Commissioner Rana Wilson, Chair of Commission Kendra Martello, Friends of Guest House Executive Director Kari Galloway, Commissioner and Councilwoman-Elect Amy Jackson, Delegate Mark Levine, Friends of Guest House Community Outreach Director Marisa Tordella. Courtesy photo.

Kendra Martello, the chair of the CFW, concluded the press conference by proclaiming that men and not just women were critically needed to join the conversation. “[The report] “serve[s] as a catalyst for conversation with the CFW and elected officials. Many voices … are needed to have that conversation.”

Though it’s true that the CFW has laid out the groundwork in its report and they have actionable steps to take, the rest is up to you, the residents of Alexandria City and even general members of the public.

Please take a moment to peruse the report from the Alexandria City government website at this link: https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/dchs/WebBoxes/2018_CFW_StatusofWomenReport.pdf.

Be sure to direct questions about the report to Alexandria Committee for Women member, Liz Johnson at liz.johnson.va@gmail.com or (571) 275-1828.

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