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Community leaders celebrate Women’s History Month

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Queens residents came together at C Restaurant and Lounge in Kew Gardens to celebrate and honor women’s achievements.

Rahana Rampershad, co-founder of WE RULE, and Rose Deonarine, founder of ReadySetRose, collaborated to make the event “I am Every Woman, We are Every Woman” a safe space for women in the community to network, celebrate other women’s milestones and self-reflect on their own journeys.

Both hailing from Richmond Hill, Rampershad and Deonarine’s respective organizations focus on highlighting stories of female founders and inspiring and educating the masses, which is what motivated them to localize those missions through the event.

“The goal of our event was to inspire and encourage each other to be better versions of ourselves. The name itself ‘I’m every woman, we are every woman’ and the lyrics by Whitney Houston represent that we as women are the embodiment of so many beings,” Deonarine said. “So when we say that phrase, it’s to be inclusive of all the other women in the room.”

“We did not want it to be about us or government officials, we wanted to make sure it was very inclusive. Everybody had a little piece to play in the room,” Rampershad said.

“There were people at the event that we met for the first time, and they were the first ones to message us and ask when the next event was,” she continued. “It was very powerful.”

Ebony Young, Queens deputy borough president; Vjola Isufaj, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar; and Mone’t Schultz, deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson showed their support at the event.

Jyoti Bindra, owner and manager of Vikhyat USA in Richmond Hill, was presented with a citation from Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar’s office to honor her contributions to the community during the height of the pandemic.

While the main specialty of Vikhyat USA is providing customers with customized Indian attire, Bindra and the shop’s 70-year-old seamstress worked together to sew masks and distribute them around the U.S. for free during a time where they were in high demand.

“It was so encouraging for her, and it brought her to tears,” Deonarine said of Bindra. “She runs this business with her mom and they depend on it for survival, and yet she did this out of the goodness of her heart and possibly saved lives. That’s why we had this event in March, to celebrate women, whose rights have been oppressed for several years. We’re finally getting our voices heard and we have a long way to go, but on that day we just wanted to celebrate us.”

Women have chance at majority on Council

For the first time in the history of the City Council, women have the opportunity to hold a majority of the seats.
If all of the June primary winners are victorious in the general election this November, 30 women will hold 51 of the seats in the legislative body.
Last week, some of those winners and their colleagues in government rallied outside City Hall with members of “21 in ’21,” a grassroots advocacy group founded in 2017 with the goal of getting more women elected to the City Council.
If the results stand, the group surpassed its goal by nine seats.
“It is incredible to see this idea finally turn into a reality that has led to a historic moment,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “When women run and have the support around them, women win.”
There are few competitive races later this year, so it is likely most, if not all, of the primary winners will join the City Council on January 1.
Nantasha Williams, Shahana Hanif, and Mercedes Narcisse would claim seats never held by a woman in Jamaica, Cobble Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The LGBTQ+ Caucus would be bolstered if the primary results hold. Crystal Hudson and Kristin Richardson Jordan would be the first openly gay Black women to serve in the City Council. Tiffany Cabán would be Astoria’s first openly gay representative.
Sandra Ung, a Chinese American from Flushing, won the primary for the seat being vacated by Peter Koo.
And Linda Lee and Julie Won will be the first two Korean-American women in the City Council, while Felicia Singh and Shahana Hanif would be the first two South Asian members.
“Over half of my district’s residents are foreign-born, but I am set to become the first immigrant and the first woman to represent these neighborhoods,” said Won. “As trailblazing elected officials have done before me, I will partner with the rest of the incoming City Council cohort to create a professional pipeline for progressive Asian, Black, and Brown activists to ascend to the highest levels of government and elected office.”
Hanif would also hold the distinction as the first ever Muslim council member.
“I’m excited to forge a model of leadership in coalition with all the women that is deeply committed to enabling and expanding a multiracial, participatory democracy,” said Hanif. “It is past time for the women of our city to be front and center.”
Singh arguably has the strongest challenger in the general election in Queens Republican Party chair Joann Ariola. However, if Singh were to lose, the seat would still go to a woman.
Additionally, the City Council will now have 11 mothers.
In 2017, former speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and former council member Elizabeth Crowley co-founded 21 in ’21. At the time, women held only 11 seats in City Council despite accounting for 52 percent of the city’s population.
They’ve expanded their coalition over time by partnering with 17 different organizations, including Emily’s List and She Will Rise.
“I am enormously proud to have taken the baton and gotten the organization across the finish line,” said Amelia Adams, president of Adams Advisors, a firm focused on government affairs, community relations and political consulting. “With the help of our membership, mentors and candidates, we created a sisterhood that is going to continue in the body of the City Council and beyond.”
Some advocates believe the increase in female representation was a direct result of ranked choice voting, which was used city elections on a large-scale basis for the first time in the June primaries.
“For the first time ever, New York City’s government will actually reflect the diversity of our city, thanks to ranked choice voting,” said Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, COO at NYU’s McSilver Institute. “Ranked choice voting results in more wins for candidates of color and women, and the proof is in the results.”

Women have chance at majority on Council

For the first time in the history of the City Council, women have the opportunity to hold a majority of the seats.
If all of the June primary winners are victorious in the general election this November, 30 women will hold 51 of the seats in the legislative body.
Last week, some of those winners and their colleagues in government rallied outside City Hall with members of “21 in ’21,” a grassroots advocacy group founded in 2017 with the goal of getting more women elected to the City Council.
If the results stand, the group surpassed its goal by nine seats.
“It is incredible to see this idea finally turn into a reality that has led to a historic moment,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “When women run and have the support around them, women win.”
There are few competitive races later this year, so it is likely most, if not all, of the primary winners will join the City Council on January 1.
Nantasha Williams, Shahana Hanif, and Mercedes Narcisse would claim seats never held by a woman in Jamaica, Cobble Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The LGBTQ+ Caucus would be bolstered if the primary results hold. Crystal Hudson and Kristin Richardson Jordan would be the first openly gay Black women to serve in the City Council. Tiffany Cabán would be Astoria’s first openly gay representative.
Sandra Ung, a Chinese American from Flushing, won the primary for the seat being vacated by Peter Koo.
And Linda Lee and Julie Won will be the first two Korean-American women in the City Council, while Felicia Singh and Shahana Hanif would be the first two South Asian members.
“Over half of my district’s residents are foreign-born, but I am set to become the first immigrant and the first woman to represent these neighborhoods,” said Won. “As trailblazing elected officials have done before me, I will partner with the rest of the incoming City Council cohort to create a professional pipeline for progressive Asian, Black, and Brown activists to ascend to the highest levels of government and elected office.”
Hanif would also hold the distinction as the first ever Muslim council member.
“I’m excited to forge a model of leadership in coalition with all the women that is deeply committed to enabling and expanding a multiracial, participatory democracy,” said Hanif. “It is past time for the women of our city to be front and center.”
Singh arguably has the strongest challenger in the general election in Queens Republican Party chair Joann Ariola. However, if Singh were to lose, the seat would still go to a woman.
Additionally, the City Council will now have 11 mothers.
In 2017, former speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and former council member Elizabeth Crowley co-founded 21 in ’21. At the time, women held only 11 seats in City Council despite accounting for 52 percent of the city’s population.
They’ve expanded their coalition over time by partnering with 17 different organizations, including Emily’s List and She Will Rise.
“I am enormously proud to have taken the baton and gotten the organization across the finish line,” said Amelia Adams, president of Adams Advisors, a firm focused on government affairs, community relations and political consulting. “With the help of our membership, mentors and candidates, we created a sisterhood that is going to continue in the body of the City Council and beyond.”
Some advocates believe the increase in female representation was a direct result of ranked choice voting, which was used city elections on a large-scale basis for the first time in the June primaries.
“For the first time ever, New York City’s government will actually reflect the diversity of our city, thanks to ranked choice voting,” said Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, COO at NYU’s McSilver Institute. “Ranked choice voting results in more wins for candidates of color and women, and the proof is in the results.”

Just one step

Dear Editor,
Women Creating Change (WCC) stands in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and the families of countless other Black and Brown people taken from us by police violence.
While the Derek Chauvin verdict demonstrates that some accountability is possible, the urgency for systemic change remains, as evidenced by the numerous police shootings that have taken place since Mr. Floyd’s murder last May.
Reimagining a public safety system that values life and equity above all else will require institutional changes and sustained advocacy.
Last summer, New Yorkers and people around the world from diverse backgrounds took to the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to demand justice.
The verdict is an important milestone, but it is just one step on what we know will be a long road. Working together, we can effect real change and create a more just and equitable nation.
Much work remains, and WCC is committed to supporting and working alongside our peers to fight for equity and justice.
Sincerely,
Deborah Martin Owens
Board Chair
Carole Wacey,
President & CEO

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