This summer, Abigail Armstrong ’15 interned with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW), an organization dedicated to providing a permanent and effective voice for women across the state. The organization meets with legislators, endorses legislation and holds public hearings on topics related to women and the issues they face in today’s society. Armstrong participated in the MCSW’s advocacy for fundamental freedoms and promoting women’s basic human rights, freedom and equality.
Armstrong’s internship was supported by the Joseph F. Anderson ’44 Internship Fund, administered by Hamilton’s Career Center.
The commission is composed of 19 women who are appointed by four legislating authorities: the governor, senate president, speaker of the house and caucus of women legislators. All the commissioners are volunteers and meet once a month as a large group and on separate occasions as smaller committees.
As the legislative intern, Armstrong fulfilled a variety of roles in the office. Her duties included scheduling appointments with legislators, communicating with legislative experts on bills they were currently endorsing, planning public events, writing testimonies and conducting research on specific women’s issues. This research covered topics such as wage equity, violence against women, providing adequate paid time off for women with families and promoting good health and disease prevention among women.
Armstrong also gathered information for the National Association for Commissions on Women (NACW), an organization that unites state-level women’s organizations on a national scale to better promote and endorse solutions to women’s issues.
As is true nationally, women in Massachusetts have been paid less than men for decades, and a current bill may change this situation. Armstrong said that attending meetings focusing on the Comparable Work Bill was among her favorite activities of the internship.
Last summer, Armstrong worked on the successful Marriage Equality Campaign in her home state of Maine. She became “much more aware and interested in women’s issues and, more specifically, the role that the government has in solving them.” Her internship with the MCSW complements her experience last summer and her government minor at Hamilton, as she focused on the workings of state governments.
Armstrong called the experience “insightful and enjoyable,” and the internship has encouraged her to consider pursuing a legislative career in the State House.
Armstrong is a graduate of Cape Elizabeth High School (Maine).