The White Plains Examiner

First Westchester Women’s Summit

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Rev. Noelle Damico of White Plains, keynote speaker.
Rev. Noelle Damico of White Plains, keynote speaker.

Women from all over Westchester County will be gathering at the Yonkers Riverfront Library on Saturday, March 2 at 8:30 a.m. to confront the issues concerning women in the County—issues including economic development, housing and homeless prevention, violence against women, health and mental health, children’s services, civil and criminal legal services, and immigration. Their goal is to engage women in creating a stronger, more just, and more egalitarian Westchester. The event is sponsored by the Westchester Women’s Agenda, with financial support from Eileen Fisher and others.

Planning for the Summit, the first of its kind in Westchester, grew out of the realization that the economic downturn which hit the United States in the period of 2007-2011 has also created hardship in Westchester County; particularly for women and children.  For example, according to the U.S. Census, over the last five years the percentage of people in poverty in Westchester rose by over 50%, from 4.9% to 7.5%.  For families headed by women, with no husband present, the poverty rate in 2011 was 22.4%.  The comparable figure in 2007 was 15.9%.

While incomes dropped over the five-year period from 2007-2011, the relative cost of rental housing increased. In 2007 43% of households paid 35% or more of their income for housing. By 2011 that percentage had risen to 48%. Owners’ costs also rose relative to income, but not as much. For owners the rate of increase was 4%. For renters it was 12%.

There are also great disparities between communities within Westchester. For example, according to data provided by the Westchester Children’s Association, in Briarcliff in 2011 99% of high school students graduate within four years. In Mount Vernon the rate is 53%. The four-year college readiness rate in Bronxville in 2011 was 99%. In Yonkers it was 14%.

Keynote speaker for the Summit will be the Rev. Noelle Damico of White Plains, who serves as the Associate for Fair Food within the Presbyterian Church’s Hunger Program and coordinates the PC (USA) campaign for Fair Food. A sought-after speaker and educator, Reverend Damico has been a keynote speaker on human trafficking issues and writes and speaks on the church’s role in advancing a human-rights based approach to addressing modern-day slavery. She lives in White Plains and is active in local food justice, conservation and religious organizations. State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will deliver welcoming remarks to the gathering.

Break-out sessions will take place in each of the proposed issue areas, at which participants will discuss specific challenges and decide on priorities for action.  The event is open to the public.  Registration is free, but participants must register to attend.  Tickets are limited.  Attendees can register online at:

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