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Advocates highlight ongoing issues adversely affecting Connecticut women

Locker space for children is pictured in the childcare center at Kids & Company in Boston's Seaport District on Aug. 20, 2019. On-site child care is offered at a number of businesses and some co-working spaces, but a day care in the Seaport District is set to flip that concept on its head, offering a dedicated space where harried parents can work for free for an hour or two, or all day, while their kids are in classrooms down the hall. When the co-working space opens Sept. 3, it will be the first such operation of its kind in the country, according to Kids & Company, the Canadian child-care provider that runs the Seaport site.
David Ryan / Boston Globe
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Locker space for children is pictured in the childcare center at Kids & Company in Boston's Seaport District on Aug. 20, 2019. On-site child care is offered at a number of businesses and some co-working spaces, but a day care in the Seaport District is set to flip that concept on its head, offering a dedicated space where harried parents can work for free for an hour or two, or all day, while their kids are in classrooms down the hall. When the co-working space opens Sept. 3, it will be the first such operation of its kind in the country, according to Kids & Company, the Canadian child-care provider that runs the Seaport site.

A group of women gathered in Hartford to raise awareness about topics that continue to affect Connecticut women’s lives and careers. The event was organized by the Commission onWomen,Children,Seniors,Equity andOpportunity in honor and celebration of Women’s History Month.

The panel included diverse women discussing equal pay, childcare, workforce inequity, women's health, and domestic violence.

Elizabeth Fraser, the director of policy at the Connecticut Association of Human Services, said for families to be able to return to the workforce, there are three childcare issues to be addressed: affordability, schedule flexibility at daycare centers and easier licensing for providers.

"Childcare is overwhelmingly occupied by women surviving by low compensation despite their educational credentials, training, and experience,” Fraser said.

According to Procare Solutions, a company that provides child care software, infant care typically costs $1,292 per month in Connecticut as of 2020.

Fraser said she had seen mothers unable to follow a career path because of child care costs, leaving them at a financial disadvantage and a lower chance for a successful future. She added that early education providers, who often are women of color, face economic challenges.

The policy director at the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund, Nicole Sanclemente, said transparency in the workforce is critical to addressing women’s wages. She referred to several proposed bills and hoped for their passage, which she believes would help low-income families and women.

"We are pushing for the expansion of sick pay days,” Sanclemente said. “We see that workers that are left out are part-time workers, domestic workers, and those who do not fit the definition of service worker. And women, especially women of color, who are present in all these categories."

Last week, workers, union representatives, and some state legislators gathered to support three bills to raise tipped minimum wage rates, require predictable scheduling, and expand paid sick days.

Ayesha R. Clarke, interim executive director at Health Equity Solutions, sought change in areas of women's mental and physical health, as well.

Meghan Scanlon is the president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She explained that nearly 100% of survivors who followed up with domestic violence services were identified as still being in “high danger.”

"People in 99% of cases experience financial abuse, and when an individual gets ready to leave, that is one of the most dangerous times," Scanlon said.

She added that her organization is working on several bills to protect women's life and financial independence.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.