It can become second nature for women to deal with pay gaps, sexual harassment, and various other forms of gender inequality in the workplace. But one city is taking aim at at those injustices: New York City, which has just launched a high-reaching new initiative that wants to arm women with a a host of tools for success — whether that means starting their own business, asking for a raise at work, getting a degree, or choosing to be a stay-at-home mom.
Spearheaded by New York City’s deputy mayor, Alicia Glen, and kicked off with a rally in Washington Square Park in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village on Thursday evening, the campaign centers around the online portal Women.NYC, which connects New York women with various resources that could help them move closer to their goals. (Oath, Yahoo’s parent media company, has partnered with NYC on the initiative.)
“Be aggressive and unapologetic with what you want in life. We are here to give you the tools,” Glen told the crowd of roughly 150 women as she stood framed by the famous arch of Washington Square, the glowing phrase “New York City has your back” projected onto its sculpted marble.
“We are here for women,” Glen told Yahoo Lifestyle ahead of the event. “We are reaching out to be inclusive, to make women feel New York has their back.”
Glen, having worked at Goldman Sachs for years, says that she has experienced firsthand how intimidating the business world can be and that it’s just one reason this website was necessary. “There’s a lot of sexism and discrimination in the businesses of the city; this website can be accessed to get help, find a lawyer, file a complaint. Literally, we are there for you.”
This isn’t Glen’s first effort to help women succeed in the workforce. Two years ago she launched WE (Women Entrepreneurs) NYC to support female-led businesses, a first-of-its-kind project offering services, training, and funding to entrepreneurial women.
But Women.NYC is not limited solely to entrepreneurs; it’s for all people who identify as women. “It’s a tool where women of all ages can come and find what they need to successfully get ahead, find out the benefits they have,” Glen says.
Although she does recognize that not everyone has access to a smartphone or a computer at home, she notes that public libraries and local government offices can be used to access the portal.
The website’s homepage has a search bar, with the prompt, “Asking for a raise? Starting your own business? Trying to find affordable rent? Search every city program that can support you in achieving your goals.” And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you are invited to simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“How great is that?” says Glen. “You can email the women of New York, and we will reply back to you.”
Some women at Thursday’s launch rally were skeptical about the portal’s powers. City resident Zila Renfro, for example, said she thinks the municipality needs to focus on providing affordable housing and to do something about the “skyrocketing” rents.
“Websites like this cater to the idea that women are struggling economically in New York because they don’t know how to ask for a raise or balance family and work life,” Renfro told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Women and families are struggling economically because New York is not providing affordable housing — and at the same time is complicit in gentrifying neighborhoods with large development projects that push women and families onto the streets.”
While the portal doesn’t claim to provide affordable housing for all women, it does offer details on how to qualify and apply for such residences — as well as direct users, through its search bar and drop-down menus, to resources for pre-K and childcare, low-cost health care, food support, job training, entrepreneurial ventures, and more.
“You are lucky to be in New York City,” Glen told Yahoo Lifestyle about women wanting to start businesses in NYC. “We are committed to investing in women, and we want to see [women] succeeding.”
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