Check back often to see our continuously expanding list of issues and resources you can access to educate yourself. Make sure to check out the events calendar to learn about our ongoing events, workshops and trainings that address these issues, and our blog where we discuss all things racism and empowerment.
Our mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.
Accomplishing our mission starts with our theory of change. We believe:
- That until Black queer women are free, none of us will be free.
- We must explicitly name the problems of white supremacy and patriarchy and reflect and act on how it influences our own personal socialization and identity and organizational biases.
- While individual level oppression is important to address, we must do it in a way that is rooted in action and continuously improves systems and institutions, so our work lives beyond any individual.
- We must center the voices and needs of communities impacted by systemic oppression.
- In meeting the moment with constantly evaluated individual and organizational learning.
- That liberation is a constant struggle that relies on a beloved community to create power and generational change. And along with the struggle, we must remember to acknowledge the true human connection found in centering joy.
Our approach to advocacy is inclusive and intersectional and believes in the power of a beloved community that builds partnerships and coalitions with other YWCAs and beyond to achieve policy goals. This includes developing an advocacy committee with clearly defined roles and responsibilities to build capacity and leverage existing community strengths and assets. Advocacy at YWCA Lancaster looks like effective and fiscally-responsible work between leadership, community, news media, and elected officials to create a more just society. We seek to influence laws, policies, and systems that affect long-term legal and cultural change in our community at the local, state, and federal level.
YWCA Lancaster’s advocacy agenda is broken down into five priority areas: connectedness, health, education, public safety, and economic vitality. These agenda items are driven by our county-wide racial equity profile, which unearths the systemic racial inequalities in Lancaster County. This profile, the first in Pennsylvania, is developed by the national equity firm PolicyLink in partnership with nine other prominent Lancaster County community benefit organizations.
YWCA Lancaster addresses contemporary political issues and advocates for the rights of all women and racialized groups with an intersectional approach. The Board of Directors supports the following public policies:
Connectedness: an individual’s ability to be empowered as a full member of society without systemic barriers to participation in democracy
What we support:
- Voter Registration: Along with a bipartisan coalition of community partners, we are focused on equal access to the ballot through its Lancaster Votes initiative.
- Affordable housing: As the oldest continuously running affordable housing option in Lancaster County, we continue to advocate for renter and homeowner rights so everyone has access to affordable housing. Our YForward initiative will add affordable housing units to the already existing housing options in Kepler Hall.
Health Equity: an individual’s ability to receive equal access to physical and mental care, free of systemic social determinants of health
What we support:
- County health department: Lancaster County currently is without a county health department to identify and lead on public health issues like pandemic response, lead exposure, sex education, and preventative care. YWCA Lancaster believes a county-wide department outside of corporate and non-profit control is a common sense first step to taking a data-informed approach to eliminating social determinants of health for BIPOC residents, women, and everyone.
- Abortion access: YWCA has always been at the forefront of making sure individuals are able to decide if and when to grow their family. YWCA Lancaster joined YWCA USA in standing for reproductive freedom at the Supreme Court by signing onto the Amicus Brief in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization supreme court decision.
- Transgender and LGBTQIA+ rights: YWCA Lancaster is opposed to any local or state policy that rejects the humanity of queer people, which would also be in defiance of the Title IX protections of sex, gender, and orientation. Locally, this means defending transgender rights at the school board level and beyond, and leveraging municipal data to identify areas of need for LGBTQIA+ rights through the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.
Education: ensuring equal access to an education that is both empowering, truthful, and prepares individuals for 21st century living
What we support:
- Universal PreK: YWCA Lancaster is in support of the current push for universal pre-K through the Build Back Better Act, including a continuation of the Child Tax Credit that lifted an estimated 40 million children out of poverty.
- Fair Funding: Pennsylvania is in the bottom five in the nation in its equitable funding of schools. Because of the extreme reliance on property taxes, schools that have a disproportionate amount of low income and BIPOC students are affected the most. YWCA Lancaster is dedicated to joining the fight for the full execution of Pennsylvania’s already approved Fair Funding formula.
- Empowering preK-12 education: Schools should be places where students feel comfortable in their own skin and identity. YWCA Lancaster opposes any attempts for local school boards to withhold a more contextualized and empowering education for students, and supports social emotional, trauma informed, and equitable educational initiatives at the foundation of all learning
Public Safety: an individual’s ability to receive equal treatment within and beyond the criminal justice system
What we support:
- Ending cash bail: In the Lancaster County Prison, sixty-six percent of incarcerated individuals were being held pre-trail, many because they couldn’t afford bail. Cash bail disproportionately affects BIPOC individuals and unfairly incarcerates individuals for a period of time without trial.
- Effective tracking for sexual assault evidence: Pennsylvania is without an efficient and transparent method for handling sexual assault evidence. Along with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, YWCA Lancaster supports a state-wide tracking system that will allow victim-survivors to obtain real-time updates on the status of their evidence, and require the explanation of important rights and resources for victim-survivors.