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For International Women’s Day, DCF Division on Women, NJ Advisory Commission on the Status of Women,
and Other Partners Seek Input from Women on Their Top Policy Priorities

CONTACT: NJ DCF Office of Communications, 

TRENTON, N.J. – As New Jersey joins states across the country in observance of March as Women’s History Month, on this International Women’s Day (March 8th), the NJ Advisory Commission on the Status on Women (NJACSW) and the Department of Children and Families, Division on Women (NJDCF-DOW), as well as their partners, are seeking input on the policy issues that matter most to the women of New Jersey.

The Commission, in collaboration with DOW, the Council on Gender Parity in Labor and Education in the State Employment and Training Commission, and Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Work, have issued a report, Equity for Women in New Jersey: Identifying Needs and Priorities, which compiles information gathered over 2 years via survey and in-community and virtual conversations. NJACSW and DOW have made the report available for a two-week public comment to capture additional feedback from women throughout the state.

The NJACSW was established in 1974—simultaneously with the Division on Women—to serve as an advisory arm. The NJACSW is composed of members appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the state Senate. The current membership includes diverse women leaders from various backgrounds and sectors. These members joined the Commission two years ago, bringing about new energy and ideas that reflect their commitment to a more equitable and just state for women.

“Periodically, it’s important to take the pulse of the community to learn about the things that are affecting women and their families every day,” said NJACSW Chair Ana Duarte McCarthy. “This information gathering process was made possible thanks to a long list of committed state, local, and community partners that worked together for over two years engaging and listening to thousands of women from across the state. We are so appreciative of their wisdom and ideas.”

The initial phase of the work entailed a survey that was issued in 2022, in multiple languages, and shared online and in the community. The survey received more than 3,000 responses from individuals seeking to provide input. To further explore the survey’s findings, and to help develop a multi-year action plan, 11 in-person meetings and three virtual community conversations were held throughout the state. A total of 170 women participated in these sessions, representing 104 partner groups, which were led through CWW.

“Our work at the Division on Women is wide-ranging, from supporting women to overcome some of the most challenging moments in their lives as survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual assault, to advocating for and empowering them through linkages to community resources and educational training opportunities that help them strengthen their job skills and become financially self-sufficient,” said NJDCF-DOW Executive Director Anna Martinez.  “Working with the Commission and our partners, this survey was integral in our efforts toward inclusivity, community connection, and ensuring we engaged women of diverse cultures and backgrounds, education, and economic levels. We all deserve a seat at the table and a voice in the direction of policies and programs that support women and their families.”

Some of the identified areas of priority align with work already happening across state government to address access to health care, child care, adequate housing, equitable pay, and educational and job readiness opportunities, among other areas of interest.

”One of the main goals of the NJSETC-GPC (New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission – Gender Parity Council) is to continuously research and identify workforce readiness to meet shifting labor needs and gaps, and to ensure that New Jersey’s workforce remains competitive and able to participate in the ever-changing labor landscape of the 21st Century,” said NJSETC Deputy Director Joan Desmarais. “Many of the participants touched on similar issues. We look forward to working with our partners on exploring and implementing strategies that will facilitate greater professional and economic opportunities in communities across the state.”

Overall, the report underscores the need for comprehensive, collaborative efforts to address the multifaceted challenges facing women in New Jersey, with a focus on both immediate interventions and long-term systemic changes.

“The report provides New Jersey—the state and its local partners—with a snapshot of the needs and concerns of women and some solution-based recommendations, largely identified by community partners themselves, that hold the potential to help women in New Jersey thrive,” said Glenda Gracia-Rivera, with the Rutgers Center for Women and Work.

“In our respective roles, as DCF-DOW staff and NJACSW members, we are not done yet, as we are seeking comment from women who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the survey or the community conversations,” added DOW’s Executive Director Anna Martinez.  “We hope to hear from ALL women in NJ to let us know if we accurately captured your concerns to advance women’s issues throughout the state.”  

To provide comments on the Equity for Women in New Jersey report, NJ residents can visit and may email with the subject line: “Feedback on Equity for Women in NJ Report.” The Public Comment period for this report will be open for two weeks, closing on Friday, March 22, 2024.

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