Young women gather on the steps of City Hall in support of New York City's new campaign.
Young women gather on the steps of City Hall in support of New York City's new campaign.

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–Young women lined the steps of New York’s City Hall on Oct. 8 holding signs with words like “invincible,” “recognized” and “fierce.”

The women were there for the kickoff of the Young Women’s Initiative, which launches today and will focus on improving young women’s access to jobs, health care and education with an emphasis on how race, gender and sexual identity differently impact women.

“We want young women to tell us what they feel is missing in the way the city is serving them,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the New York City Council, who led the event.

The City Council-led working group, which they say is the first of its kind for a city government, embraces young women ages 12 to 24, including transgender women and gender-nonconforming people. To determine the direction of the initiative and related future policies, the group is conducting research with a cohort of young women and community-based organizations and consulting with gender experts. Policy and funding recommendations will be announced in February. No funding amount was made available at the launch.

Organizations, like Legal Momentum, NYC’s YWCA, Girl Scouts of NYC, the New York Women’s Foundation and Teen Mom NYC joined the event.

Attendees waved small placards with the words ” ,” the official hashtag of the working group’s digital campaign. From Twitter to Vine, #SheWillBe is intended to give young women of color a platform to tell their stories.

“We are experts in our own lived experiences,” said speaker Amanda Matos, founder of the WomanHOOD Project, a leadership organization for women of color in the Bronx. Matos explained at the event that she has seen young women across New York City already act as leaders in their communities.

Nala Simone, a member of the working group, praised it for embracing the experiences of transgender women like herself, and said that its data-driven efforts will help the group figure out what women of different experiences need.

Danielle Moss Lee, CEO of NYC’s YWCA, said that young women are ready to knock down the barriers of sexism, racism and ageism.

“I promise if we do this right, she will be, they will be, amazing,” she said at the event.

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