By Naeisha Rose
The Center for the Women of New York held a conference last week at Queens Borough Hall where women’s rights in and out of the workplace was the main topic.
The conference included a panel of five women who examined their experiences in the work force, and featured elected officials Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows).
Moderating the panel was Times Ledger Editor Roz Liston and present at the event was CWNY Founder Ann Jawin.
During the conference Jawin and Weprin discussed the referendum for a Constitutional Convention, which is on the back of the ballot for the Nov. 7 election.
Many Vote No legislators like Weprin are opposed to an overhaul of the New York State Constitution. They believe that a new state treaty could result in a rollback of women’s rights for Roe vs. Wade and that unions, which have often ensured minority and women’s rights in the work place, will be weakened.
Vote Yes components who want a new state charter to fast track education, government reform and end corruption in politics believe a new convention will provide necessary improvements for New Yorkers, but these issues and many others that citizens might not want often get lumped together in a Constitution Convention, according to Jawin.
“You can deal with specific issues through the usual legislative process,” said Jawin. “Things get mixed up in a Constitutional Convention with things that are damaging for women, in particular in this atmosphere, where it seems we are going backwards instead of forward with our rights in Washington.
Weprin agreed with her sentiments.
“Under Trump’s tenure I’m not sure Roe vs. Wade is going to survive,” Weprin said. “That is why it’s important that we codify Roe vs. Wade in the state to allow protection for women to choose.”
Lisa Boily, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who was on the panel, highlighted what it was like working at Dept. of Labor, and told women to be on the lookout for the hiring freeze at the BLS to be lifted. She emphasized that being an economist isn’t just a desk job and involved traveling to meet people in different neighborhoods.
Queensboro Council for Social Welfare representative Joan Serrano encouraged women to be open to job options that may not be part of their original goals because these opportunities could be more rewarding or help them in their careers later in life. She intended on being a teacher, but because she had poor eyesight she was able to use her teaching skills helping special need kids as a social worker.
Mary Vaccaro, the District 26 representative for the United Federation of Teachers, advised women to not get hung up on location when it comes to job opportunities, but to focus on becoming a leader where they are.
“I became a leader in my school, and that was recognized,” Vaccaro said. “When you work at a city agency and you are a leader, you will be able to rise in that position.”
The other woman on the panel included Andrea Ormeno, the director at the Women’s Business Center at the Queens Economic Development Corporation, who suggested women use YouTube as a job-seeking resource.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose