New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul at Hamilton.

Upstate New York is the birthplace of the women’s rights movement and continues to live up to its legacy today. On April 8, New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul visited campus to confirm her commitment to the state’s mission and share the 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda.

As a strong proponent of New York State government, Hochul reiterated the agenda’s goals to address basic human rights issues. The nine targeted fields are education, workforce equity, leadership, childcare, healthcare, safety, stem, economic opportunity, and intersectionality.

“I believe, in America, complacency died in 2016,” Hochul said. “The people who did not step up who were eligible to need to own where we are today.”

The Council on Women and Girls, which President Trump disbanded in 2017, is independently spearheading the Agenda with the backing of the New York State legislature. In the era of #MeToo, unequal pay, gun violence, increased maternal mortality rates for non-white women and reproductive rights constantly in legal peril, Hochul reinforced how imperative it is to support women.

Maynard-Knox Professor of Law Frank Anechiarico’s presentation following the Lieutenant Governor’s speech complemented her presentation on empowering women through law. Anechiarico provided context for the Women’s Justice Agenda by highlighting women who acted as agents of change, ranging from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Eleanor Roosevelt, Shirley Chisholm and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He urged for disruption, de-normalization, and unseating the hierarchy as the means for more effective change.

“We have to disrupt the routine,” he said.

Finally, Monique Owns, an Empire State Fellow in the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, rounded out the conversation with a more detailed discussion of the Agenda’s goals, its accomplishments and its plans for the future, including an $8 million commitment to reproductive justice.

The Levitt Center’s forum on the 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda paid appropriate homage to the historic achievements of New York State’s past and there is little doubt that it will remain a birthplace of several more.

“Women deserve to be accepted for who they are, not what they look like,” Hochul said. “It’s time to pass the torch on or make it brighter.”

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