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UConn College Democrats hold Women's Caucus session

By Fatir Qureshi
On March 27, 2014

On Wednesday evening, the UConn College Democrats held a session of the Connecticut Young Democratic Women's Caucus (YDWC). The event included participation by not only UConn students, but also by students from Eastern Connecticut State University.
"We saw UConn as the perfect venue for this event. Our former president showed by example and was elected to a board of education. We saw this the caucus as a way to encourage other young women to seek a place in politics as well," said UConn College Democrat President, and 8th-semester history major Steve Dixit.
The event featured special guest Teresa Younger, executive director of the permanent commission on the status of women and state representative for the 44th-district Mae Flexer.
Younger discussed the work her commission has done to advocate for women's rights and fight for greater gender equality. She encouraged student participation in government, particularly among young women.
"Please come to Hartford. Every year there is a bill which tries to subsidize housing for college students, and every year it has died," Younger said.
Younger explained many of the challenges that women face in Connecticut from being underpaid at work, to being underrepresented at the state legislature. She said that "Women in Connecticut are paid, on average 76 cents for each dollar earned by a man and only make up 28 percent of the seats in the Connecticut House of Legislator despite making up 51 percent of the total population."
Despite her commissions non-partisan nature, Younger has faced opposition on her advocacy.
"I have gotten a lot of hate mail, more hate mail than I expected," Younger said about some people's reactions to her previous efforts to prevent a hospital merger that would hamper women's health issues.
A significant event towards closing the gender pay gap occurred on the same evening as the caucus. A landmark bill was passed which would raise Connecticut's minimum wage to $10.10. This is the highest minimum wage has ever been in the country.
Senator Mae Flexer who was involved in the bills passage said "I'm proud to say we passed an impressive minimum wage bill today. One in three women in Connecticut earn the minimum wage. The average minimum wage earner is 35 years old. The means a huge difference for both those living in poverty and those not living in poverty."
Flexer further discussed the importance of women's entry into politics, and emphasized the vicious cycle of women delaying their entry until they are older.
"If women don't run at the state level, especially if their under 40, you will never see parity on the federal level," Flexer said.
Many of the students in attendance at the event were inspired by the event.
"I would say that it inspired me, and excited me, and that it was interesting to all the data presented," 2nd-semester political science major Brianna DeVivl said.

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